What size does a BDSM collar need to be? And how tight do cuffs need to fit?

If you ever wondered how to find the right measurement for your BDSM accessories, this post is for you! 🙂

Tools for measuring

You need:

  • measuring tape or
  • lineal and non-elastic ribbon or paper strip

Optional tools:

  • sticky tape (if you want to measure with a paper strip)
  • Scissors
  • Mirror (especially usefull when measuring your neck)

Ideally, you’d have a measuring tape at hand – a cloth tape measure would be your best option, that you can use to measure the body directly. But we will show you how to use a stiff measuring tool and a non-elastic ribbon as well.

If you’re about to buy a collar a mirror might proof useful as well. Helpful, but not neccesary, are paper, sticky tape and scissors.

When you have the needed utensils at hand you’re ready to go.

How tight do I need to measure?

The measuring tape should

  • lay directly on the skin
  • without pinching
  • without leaving leeway (do not put a finger under the tape to add some room)

Please do not add any additional allowance, we need the acutal measurement to find the correct size.

What else do we need to watch out for when measuring?

Finding the right spot

When measuring, the correct spot is the one where the item will be worn later. That’s not neccesarily the spot you’d think of first, so you should take a few minutes to locate the right position.

To do that, you place the measuring tape as if it was the finished item and move it up- or downwards until you found a location you like an that feels “right” to you.

paperstrip as a measuring tool

If you don’t have a measuring tape at hand, you can also use a paper strip to find the right position. This method is especially helpful when you’re abou to order a wider product, like a wide collar or wide cuffs. We tell you the widths of our cuffs in the product descriptions.

Cut a strip in the desired width and wrap it around your wrist, ankle or neck. Don’t hesitate to move the strip up and down until you find the “perfect” spot. Measurements are taken in the middle of the paper strip.

For example: if you consider to buy a 5 cm wide collar, you cut a 5 cm wide paper strip and place it around your neck in a position you’d also like your collar to sit. You take the measurements in the middle of the paperstrip (at 2,5 cm in that case).

What if I don’t own a soft measuring tape?

If you don’t own a soft measuring tape, you can use a ribbon or string to take your measurements. For that, it’s very important that your tool of choice is not elastic.

Beware: wool yard for example streches a few cm under tension, even though they are stricly speaking non-elastic. So please make extra sure this is not the case before measuring.

To do that, hold a piece of your ribbon (at least 30 cm) between your hands and slowly build up tension. If your hands don’t move further apart, the ribbon is suitable. Otherwise you better look for another material to not get a falsified result.

When you have found your tool of choice, wrap it around your neck, cuffs, ankles… as described above with the measuring tape and mark the length of the ribbon. Now you can take the measurement from the ribbon with the help of a ruler.

From measurements to actual sizes

Here at penumbra, we manufacture all items for their future owners after an order is placed. That means there is no “too small” or “too big” because we craft individually and personally for you. Every piece is handcraftet in our workshop in Austria and can therefore be thouroughly adjusted to your needs.

If you took your measurements correctly, you can find your size when placing an orer in our shop. If you, for example, measured 40 cm as your neck circumference and our shop says a size medium collar will fir 37,5-42 cm, this is your correct size.

What if I want to wear my collar (or cuffs) tighter or looser?

penumbra has produced collars and cuffs for many years and Lena, the founder and trained seamstress, has measured a lot of customers by now. That means all our sizes do have a little leeway in both directions if you took your measurements correctly.

An example:

If your neck measurement is 40 cm, you choose a medum sized collar (fitting for a neck circumference of 37,5 – 42 cm). The collar will be adjustbale in the back and should fit neck measurements from roughly 36,5 – 43 cm. So yes, our shop size recommendations are a bit more conservative than our actual size estimantion, to account for people who like to wear their collars in a different tightness than we’d expect. Generally speaking, our customers are really happy about the fit of their collars.

To be absolutely sure: the custom size

If your measurements are on the edge of or outside the size reccomendations in our shop, or you want to be extra sure to pick the right size, you can always go for the “custom size” option. That means we manufacture your penumbra product exactly to your specifications.

If you, for example, order a collar for a neck measurement of 37 cm and choose the “custom size” options, we create a collar that fits a 37 cm neck in the middle adjustment and roughly meets our size recommendation for a 35 – 39 cm neck.

The perfect collar: where should it sit?

There is no one answer to this questions, since there is not “the place” that is perfect for everyone. Where exactly a collar should sit depends a lot on your body type and personal preferences.

Our tipp: it’s always important to go with your gut and figure out the location that just feels right.

As a general rule, most collars sit in the lower third of the neck. To find out if this applies to you or your partner as well, just stand in front of a mirror and wrap the measuring tape (or tool of choice) around your neck. This isn’t meant to find your measurement yet, just to get a feel for the correct position.

If you want you can also use a paper strip in the width of the future collar and use that as a reference.

Did you find the spot? Great! You’re already done with the hardest part! Now all there is leaft to do is measurung.

Pay attention that the measurign tape or paper strip lay in a horizontal line around your neck.

Further up the article you find more advice on how to correctly take measurements (for example how tight the measuring tape should be or how to use your measurements to find your perfect penumbra size).

Off the cuff: where the hell is the “correct” position for wrist and ankle cuffs?

Here, too, a lot is about your personal preferences. Since penumbra created a lof of cuffs over the past years, here are a few insights from us:

Don’t do this

A lot of times it is assumed that you measure the part between wrist and carpus or ankle and tarsus. Since this is not the place most people like to wear their cuffs, we do not recommend to do that as a standard.

Good practice

As a rule of thumb for wrist cuffs you can measure the spot where you’d normally wear a watch. If you want to be extra sure you can grab a paper strip in the width of your cuffs and figure out where it feels natural to you (see “paperstrip as a measuring tool”)


I want to give someone one of your products as a gift, but I want it to be a surprise. Can I send you a photo and you guess the size?

No, unfortunately we can’t do that. We can only work with actual measurements. To help you find the right size, we prepared a blog article with helpful tricks, where you can check how to measure your partner without them noticing.

Can I just measure an old collar / old cuffs and tell you how big my item needs to be?

Yes and no. To a degree we can work with exisiting, fitting products. However, we need to know you didn’t take the measurements from a human being. Ideally, you’d send us a photo of the existion product you took as a template so we can make sure we’ll be able to create the right size for you. Of course we prefer measurements taken direktly from a human 😉

Are your sizes the acutal measurement of the products?

No. We give size recommendations for our standard sizes. That means, if you measurement falls in that area, the item will fit according to our experience.

My measurements are outside your standard sizes – can I still order?

Yes, of course! All our products can be adjusted to your needs. You can choose the “custom size” option in our shop. Let us know what measurements the item should be made for, and we’ll create it according to your specifications.

And, no worries: of course there is still room to adjust a little in both directions.

My measurements are in between two of your standard sizes. Which one should I choose?

That depends on your personal preferences. Do you like to wear your collar a little on the loose side? In that case you’d better take the larger size. You don’t like it when your cuffs overlap too much? The smaller size might be the better choice.

If you’re not sure, there’s always the option to have the product made specifically for your measurements. You can choose the “custom size” option in our shop. Let us know what measurements the item should be made for, and we’ll create it according to your specifications.

And, no worries: of course there is still room to adjust a little in both directions.

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