There is no standard waist measurement for jeans. They vary considerably by brand, because designers have different, specific visions for the look and fit of their jeans.
In other words, jeans are not true to size. For all the denim brands we have evaluated, the actual waist measurements vary between 1” and 3” over the labeled size. For example: a jean with a 34 size label actually could measure anywhere from 35” to 37” at the waist. To make sense of this, the customer would need to have knowledge of the designer’s intentions. The Levi’s brand may prefer a longer rise for their standard fit, and the jeans need to sit higher on the waist to prevent sagging in the crotch; therefore, Levi’s may target 1” over the labeled size. In contrast, Diesel may prefer a shorter rise, and the jeans need to sit lower on the waist to keep the crotch from riding up; thus, Diesel may target 2 1/2” over the labeled size.
At Todd Shelton, our target is 1 ½” over our labeled size. Upon ordering a Todd Shelton jean, the customer will be shown exactly and clearly the method to determine his waist size based on the jeans he already owns:
1. Select the jean with the best fitting waist.
2. Lay it flat on a counter and smooth out the wrinkles in the waist.
3. With a ruler (or tape measure), measure across the middle of the waistband.
4. Double that measurement.
5. This actual dimension will be the target spec not the size you order. (Be aware that we add 1 1/2” to the target spec to arrive at the labeled size; therefore, if the target is 34 ½”, the customer should order Todd Shelton size 33”.)
For a more detailed description of this process, the customer may visit the jean sizing help category on any jeans product page.