Inevitably, when browsing a consignment store in SoHo, scouring vintage clothing in Williamsburg, inspecting items on a blanket for spots and stains (and putting them back if none exist, because you're a hipster like that) in the East Village, collecting clothing by the pound in Harlem, or culling the racks at a Salvation Army in Long Island City, you will be presented with the dire necessity of fitting pants without trying them on. (How can you people not have a fitting room? Did you really expect that I would have read this writeup before inspecting your wares?) And, if you shop for clothing as much as I do,* you encounter this circumstance a lot.

I hereby present you with a method for fitting pants without trying them on. I learned it from an unemployed actress-cum-bohemian who has so much clothing that, given the real estate premiums for the space it occupies, in reality she is actually losing money by buying it used.

This is also a good method to check if pants should immediately be re-racked before you waste any time in the fitting room.


Hold the pants up against your body. (You probably already knew how to do this.) Bear in mind that pants that are too long can easily be altered to your specifications. You can either get them tailored for a few dollars, which may be worth it, considering how little you are paying otherwise and, for that matter, that you want this object so much so that you would pay good money for it without even trying it on, so much so that your desire thereof could be deemed idolatry. Or, you could read how to shorten your own pants. Or, you could wear the pants until you have trod on the excess so much so that it falls off and the pants become ragged in a manner that suggests authentic age and wear ("homeless person chic").


Take the waist of the pants and wrap it around your neck. If you have difficulty inhaling, the waist is not wide enough. If you have more than an inch or two of excess, the waist is too wide. You will need to experiment in advance with the pants in your wardrobe to see how much excess suits your style, be it tight or loose.

The principle behind this method is that, unless you are a steroid-pumping bodybuilder or a pencil neck geek (in which case you need to resolve your body image issues before engaging in a wholly self-conscious pursuit), your neck is half the width of your waist. For example, a man with dress shirt neck size 16 will have a 32 inch waist (but typically wear 33 or 34, unless he is a mod and needs to rebel against the heteronormative trend of pants that let one's hips breathe, or he is a free man-cum-inmate and needs to rebel against the oppressive trend of pants that do not hang off the hips). Half the width of a pair of pants is the distance from the left to the right side, i.e. the length around your neck.

If you are in a country that speaks British English, you may also find this method is also applicable to trousers. But I know nothing about that.

I hereby disclaim all responsibility that derives from the misuse of the advice contained herein and will not refund your money in the case of a faulty purchase. As with all my advice, this advice comes "as is" with no warranty, either expressed or implied.

*In this case, you may do better to check in to the Betty Ford Clinic, for treatment of a novel form of addiction specific to this modern age, and just skip this writeup entirely.

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