TikTok Says the 2:1 Rule Is the Easiest Way to Know If Pants Will Fit, So We Asked a Stylist if It Actually Works

It's surprisingly easy

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Whether you’re braving the crowds at an insufficiently ventilated thrift shop or sweating through your turtleneck at a department store, arms full of clothes to try on, there’s nothing more gratifying than being able to skip the dressing room altogether. But when it comes to pants, we’ve typically not had much luck forgoing an in-store try-on—bulging gap in the back of the waist, thighs too tight, hem length ten inches too long. But what if we told you there was a way to guarantee that your pants will fit nearly every time with a simple trick that can be done anywhere in a store? It’s called the 2:1 rule and it’s a hit on TikTok, so we asked a stylist for her take.

Meet the Expert

Kim Appelt is a fashion stylist, TV personality, author and YouTuber with 11 years of experience in the fashion industry. Originally from Canada, she received professional training in New York City. She currently works with a number of high profile clients, dressing them for red carpet events and more. In addition, she serves as a contributing fashion expert on the CityLine segment of CityTV Toronto. Her YouTube channel, Kim XO, has more than 82,000 subscribers and was selected by YouTube as a ‘Creator On The Rise’ in April 2023. Her book, Style for EveryBODY: A Guide to Curating Your Essential Wardrobe, was published in fall 2023.

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What Is the 2:1 Waist/Neck Rule?

Let us turn you onto the 2:1 waist/neck rule. The trick says that typically the circumference of your neck doubled will likely be the circumference of your waist. With that in mind, the rule states that if hold the waist of a pair of pants up to your neck and the ends meet together with little to no room between the edges of the waist, the pants should fit. Though it sounds kind of bonkers, we chatted with Appelt to get her professional advice on the matter and she explained how the trick can be modified for a wide range of sizes and body types.

“The neck to waist measurement ratio does work for all body types,” she tells us. “I have clients with varying body types and sizes and I’ve used this for them–size 16 and up–and it works effectively! I use this trick regularly when shopping and pulling for clients. I am also able to use my own neck or a store employee’s if I need to do so!” 

Appelt tells us that even if your waist isn’t exactly twice the circumference, you can modify this trick to your specific body type. She explains, “For example, if you use this styling trick and you have found it not to work, you can adapt it to what you have found. Perhaps it's around the neck plus one or two fingers.  Adapt and make it work for you!”

Appelt understands the challenges that come along with finding the right sized pants for your body, especially when looking for plus-size styles, so she gave us a handful of tips to try out when shopping for pants:

1. Measure Yourself Accurately and Know Your Body Shape

“Use a flexible tape measure to measure your waist, hips, and inseam accurately,” she says. “Put these measurements in the notes of your phone and refer to them in the store.” You can also keep a soft measuring tape and/or a small notebook in your bag for on-the-fly use. In addition to knowing your measurements, having an understanding of your body shape and the way clothes will lay on it will help you find styles that you enjoy.

2. Consider Fabric, Stretch and Rise

Appelt tells us, “Fabrics with stretch, like spandex or elastane blends, can offer a more forgiving fit and adapt to your body shape. Look for pants made with these materials in the store if that’s important to you. Opt for pants with elastic waistbands, drawstrings or adjustable tabs. These features allow you to customize the fit to your comfort level.” Depending on the type of coverage that you’d like your pants to have, high-rise options can provide better coverage and support for a curvy body. 

3. Experiment with Different Styles 

“Wide-leg pants can balance out your proportions and provide a comfortable and stylish option for a larger body. Explore various styles such as straight-leg, bootcut or flared pants to see which one complements your body shape best,” (and makes you feel most confident and at ease). If coverage is what you’re focused on, mid- and high-rise options tend to provide more coverage, comfort and support to the body. Appelt also mentions shapewear as an option. “If you desire additional support or smoothing, consider wearing shapewear underneath your pants to enhance your confidence and comfort.”

4. Read the Fine Print and Buy with Intention

If it’s within your budget, buy multiple sizes of the garment you’re considering when unsure about the size that you think will fit best. “Many online retailers offer free returns, allowing you to return the size that doesn't fit,” Appelt shares. “Familiarize yourself with the return and exchange policies of the retailer to ensure that you can return or exchange the pants if they don't fit as expected. [Also] keep in mind that you can always have pants altered by a tailor if they are slightly too large or long. This can ensure a perfect fit for your body.”

5. Confidence Is Key

The most important tip is cheesy but true. “Regardless of your size, confidence can make any outfit look great,” Appelt stresses. “Embrace your body and choose pants that make you feel comfortable and confident.” This trick is a go-to for people who thrift, want to avoid long dressing room lines or prefer to shop online without be able to try things on before buying. That it actually works, according to pros? Icing on top of the sartorial cake.

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Assistant Editor, Trinket Collector, Artisanal Latte Enthusiast

Delia Curtis (they/them) is a New York City based writer and Assistant Editor at PureWow. They have eight years of print and digital media experience covering lifestyle, fashion...