Retail chains have a real challenge designing garments that will fit the wide range of body shapes out there. I was recently thinking about this variability and it reminded me of something I first heard from a school teacher when I was in primary school. When you reach adulthood, she said, your arm span will be almost the same as your height. Also, the length of your foot will be the same as the length of your forearm, measured from wrist bone and to elbow bone.

This sounded like it had the makings of a great Monday morning experiment here on YLF, so I decided to take my own measurements and ask you if you would like to do the same.

I know I have long arms, so I was convinced that my arm span would exceed my height. I stood against a wall and measured my height which came to 66 inches (167.5 cm). Next, I extended my arms and measured from middle finger tip to middle finger tip, allowing the tape measure to lie flat across the bottom of my neck. It came to 65 ½ inches (166 cm). To my surprise, I was wrong. My arm span is about half an inch shorter than my height. I re-measured but the results were the same. It turns out that I do have long arms for my size (long sleeved items are often a little short on the sleeve), but my dainty shoulder width decreases my arm span. It’s interesting that arm span can be a valid measure of height, particularly after puberty and before menopause when your height is pretty constant.

I then asked Greg to measure my forearm from wrist bone to elbow bone and it came to 9 ¾ inches (25 cm). I measured my own foot, being sure to measure the entire length of my foot by including the very tip of my longest toes and the back of my heel bone (which is above the ground when you are standing). My feet measured about 9 ¼ inches (23.5cm). Small-ish feet comes as no surprise.

Overall, my schoolteacher’s rules of thumb were pretty close in my case. How about you? If you’d like to take part in our little bit of research, take measurements of your height (standing straight against a wall, without shoes and not including hair), your arm span (finger tip to finger tip with arms stretched out horizontally), forearm length (for an arm bent at 90 degrees, from the end of the elbow to the middle of your protruding wrist bone) and foot length (from longest toe to the back of your heel).

Post your measurements in the comments below. Are you surprised? Are the results what you expected?