How To Size A Wetsuit For Men, Women & Kids

If you’re trying to buy wetsuits online, getting the sizing right can feel challenging! Luckily, here at Wetsuit Centre, we have over 20 years of experience and know everything when it comes to selecting the right suit!

No matter your age, gender or watersport, we can help you out! In our guide, we offer our best advice for wetsuit fitting for men, women and kids!


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How Should a Wetsuit Fit?

A wetsuit should fit like a second skin. It should feel tight but not restrictive, with no gaps in the nooks and crannies of your body such as under your arms, the lower back and behind the knees.

Check the Lower Back

An excellent way to tell if your wetsuit fits well is to ensure there is little or no excess neoprene on the lower back. The body of your suit must fit well to your body, with the lower back protecting and keeping your kidneys warm.

If your kidneys stay warm, then you will continue to pump warm blood around your body. A little bit of material under the arms is not the end of the world -the actual body is far more critical.

High on Your Neck

The suit shouldn’t tug at the shoulders and neck and instead be high on your neck to create a good seal and prevent flushing in the wetsuit.


The length of the suit is also essential for adults. Ensure a good fit around the torso, especially the shoulders where it is important to maintain maximum flexibility.

The length is especially vital for winter wetsuits. When wearing wetsuit gloves and wetsuit boots, the suit needs to be long enough to fit snuggly over your wrists and ankles to create a seal when boots and gloves are worn underneath.

In-Between Sizes

Many respectable wetsuit manufacturers such as O'Neill, Rip Curl and Billabong have made sizing a wetsuit much easier these days by creating in-between sizes. For example, instead of only having the standard sizes of S to XXL, they may have short (S), and tall (T) sizes too. Therefore, your size might fall in-between the standard sizes, such as medium-tall (MT), large-short (LS), 8-short (8S).

Brand Sizing

Different wetsuit manufacturers can vary in their cut and shape, meaning a MT in Billabong may fit you better than a MT in O'Neill, for example.

It is always best to compare the measurements available on a brand’s size guide when buying online. If in doubt, our lovely team at Wetsuit Centre are always on hand to help and guide you!

how tight should a wetsuit be

How Tight Should a Wetsuit Be?

Ultimately wetsuits should feel relatively tight and fit snuggly to your skin – there should be no pockets of air or wrinkles when you put one on. However, they shouldn’t be so tight as to limit your range of motion or dig in uncomfortably. 

Wetsuits work by trapping a layer of water between your body and the suit. This layer of water is warmed by your body heat, preventing you from losing heat while you’re submerged in water and helping you maintain a warmer body temperature. 

If your wetsuit isn’t tight enough, you may find that it cannot properly do its job to keep you warm. When your wetsuit fits more loosely and has gaps around your wrists, ankles or neck, that crucial layer of water won’t become trapped between your skin and the wetsuit. Instead, cold water will constantly flush through your suit, preventing this warming layer from forming. 

To find out more about how wetsuits keep you warm and how their efficiency can depend on whether they’re a proper fit, check out our guide on how a wetsuit works

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Does Wetsuit Thickness Affect Sizing?

In short, no. You will find that it does not make too much difference whether you are buying a winter or summer wetsuit in terms of sizing.

The only difference is the thickness - a winter wetsuit will feel tighter than a summer version, but the fit should be exactly the same. As we have all sizes in stock for men, women & children, we will be able to kit you out!

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What Size Wetsuit Should I Buy?

If you’re completely new to buying a wetsuit, the best place to start is with your current dress size for clothing. Check with the brand to see if your measurements compare to their size guideline.

Many customers often ask if they should go up or down a size from their dress size. This only applies if you have compared your measurement to those provided by the wetsuit brand; choose your size based on that.

How Do You Measure a Wetsuit?

To measure the length of a wetsuit before trying it on, you can hold it to the back of the wearer and check that the length reaches from the shoulders to the ankles.

If you don’t have the wetsuit at hand, refer to the brand’s guidelines and compare your measurements.


Wetsuit Size Guide – Women


Wetsuit Centre Wetsuit Size Guide – Women

For most women, a significant factor when deciding which wetsuit size you need is your current dress size. Wetsuit cuts for UK women are usually spot on.

This may not be the case if your dress size varies between the top and bottom half of your body, or you are quite tall or short.

If you are different sizes from top to bottom, the larger of the two sizes should still give you a very good fit as neoprene is super stretchy and should mould to your body shape.

Tall and Short Woman’s Wetsuits

If you are either tall or short, then we have sizes made to fit you. Another thing that a lot of women say is a wetsuit can feel too tight around the neck. However, fear not, as this will loosen once in the water - a new wetsuit will always feel more restrictive until you are in the water.

It is worth bearing in mind that it does need to be reasonably tight around the neck to stop any water flushing through the wetsuit and making you cold. If you are in any doubt, then please feel free to call us for helpful advice.

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Wetsuit Size Guide – Men


Wetsuit Size Guide – Men

The most important part of wetsuit sizing for men is the waist and chest. Perfecting these measurements will ensure you stay warm.

For men, a common complaint can be tightness on the arms and legs. However, after the first few times of using the suit, the material will give a little in these areas and this feeling will go.

If the body fit is great and you have a little bit of material under the arms, it’s not really an issue as the fit above your bum is where it needs to work correctly.

If you are tall or short, we have just the wetsuits for you, as the brands we stock all make these sizes.

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Wetsuit Size Guide – Children


Wetsuit Size Guide – Children

If you’re a parent, you will understand the expense of changing your kid’s wetsuit every six months if they are going through a growth spurt!

However, it is still a mistake to buy a wetsuit for your child that’s far too big. It will be a waste of money as they will still get cold.

If you are going to buy a wetsuit that is a little bit bigger for them to grow into, ensure that there isn’t too much excess material in the torso region, as that is where the water will sit and they will get cold quickly.

In terms of sizing, the most important factors are the waist and chest measurements as these two points will ensure they stay warm. It does not matter too much if it is too long on the arms and legs, as this has no additional warmth properties.

If they are much taller than the size guide shows, ideally you want to choose the next size up, providing it is not a massive leap around the chest and kidneys.

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For more advice from an expert, check out our video below or feel free to call on 01202 302943 for further information!