How to Convert Clothing Sizes to Japanese

Written by umiko sasaki
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How to Convert Clothing Sizes to Japanese
Converting U.S. sizes to Japanese is deceptively simple. (measuring tape image by Andrzej Włodarczyk from Fotolia.com)

Converting your clothing size from the United States to Japan is easy in theory, yet there's still an amount of guesswork involved when it's actually put into practice. While the formula is easy to remember, clothing manufacturers in Japan don't conform to any one measurement chart when choosing which size to attach to each article. Even when converting your clothing size by yourself, use the converted size as a guideline when you purchase Japanese clothing rather than a rule.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Online inches-to-feet converter
  • Phone (optional)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Take your measurements. Note the circumference of your waist and hips, adding bust measurement if you're a woman. Have a friend take your inseam measurement to help you determine which height category you'll fall under---petite, tall, and so on. Keep in mind the average height for Japanese people is shorter than those in the U.S., so if you're over 5 ½ feet (or 167 centimetres) some stores may consider you "tall."

  2. 2

    Find your current U.S. clothing size using the measurements you took. Accuracy is especially important in this case, because Japanese clothing doesn't always run "large" or "small" according to a given size as they do in America. It may be easier converting inches into centimetres at this point, so when you shop for Japanese clothing you'll be able to tell if any measurements are off.

  3. 3

    Convert your size to its corresponding Japanese size, according to the formula used for your gender. Women's sizes, in theory, are pretty straightforward: simply add 3 numbers to your U.S. size. If you're a size 8 in America, you're a size 11 in Japan; the size system is based on odd numbers rather than even. Conversely, for junior sizes---normally young girls and teenagers---are usually odd in America, and to convert them to Japanese sizes you subtract 1. Therefore, if you're a junior size 5, your Japanese junior size is 4. Mens' sizes are slightly more uniform than women's' sizes: for suits, a size 36 and below is a Small in Japan, a 38 corresponds to Medium, and 40 or higher will be a Large or bigger. Pant sizes depend on the length, and are usually measured at the waist and inseam. Simply convert inches to centimetres for the Japanese pant size.

    Of course, since everybody's measurements are different, given the less stringent measurement standards among Japanese clothiers this conversion chart should only be considered a guideline rather than a rule.

  4. 4

    Call the store you plan to purchase Japanese clothing from to verify you are, in fact, the size you think you are. Have your measurements in centimetres on hand for a more accurate answer. If the merchant speaks English and is familiar with U.S. sizes, this process will be much easier, but as long as you've completed the previous steps, your chances of a perfect match are good. If possible, try the clothing on first before you purchase it.

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