Ankle measurements are useful for knitting custom socks (why, don’t you?), making jewelry (specifically anklets), and fitting big-poofy-gathered-at-the-ankle style pants (clowns, harem pants, etc).
The Ankle is measured at the level of the inner (higher) ankle bone. The lower ankle bone is slightly below where the foot starts to jut out from the leg, and will result in a larger measurement. Stand in a normal posture, with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. Technically, you should have someone help you with this, but truthfully, I’ve not found that it makes a whole hill of beans worth of difference if you bend at the waist and take your own. Actually, mine’s pretty constant whether I’m standing or sitting. Let me plow through a bag of nice, tasty salty potato chips, however, or eat something I’m allergic to, and my ankles will do their best impression of a puffer-fish. Also, if you’re planning on making something that fits tightly to the ankle (like an anklet), you should take this measurement with the front muscle of the ankle tensed as much as possible to make the tendon pop out – this is an action that happens normally during many movements, including walking, and you ought to account for it. Many people find that their ankles are larger at the end of the day than the beginning, and after hours of standing, walking, or running about.
I’d like to offer a specific piece of advice, design wise, regarding ankles: they’re tricky business. A lot of women (myself included) tend towards the “canckle” situation – a sort of smooth flow between the calf and foot, rather than a sharply defined border between them. Designers like to work with models, who are picked for their long, colt-like legs which often have not only a sharp border between calf and foot but also an entire demilitarized zone of thinness leading into the ankle region. This shows in a lot of designs, where there’s just oodles of detail drawn around toothpick-wide ankles. We’re heading back into dangerous 80’s fashion territory. Remember layering your socks? Or that horrid two weeks where the entire world decided that thicky-ribby-slouchy socks in bright white or bright colors were, like, totally fun and super-cute? *shudder* The unfortunate truth is that those details only work on women with miles calf to spare. If you’ve ever thought about trying to get UN peacekeeping troops in to force your calf and ankle out of each other’s territory, these looks are not for you. Likewise, contrary to all logic, an ankle strap or anklet will do nothing to define the ankle inside the cankle. Miss Piggy may have been the first strong, independent female role model of my childhood and she does still reign as my favorite fashion icon, but I condemn her constant use of the ankle strap. Seriously, if you put a totally hawt heel with an ankle strap on your trotters, and you look in the mirror and visions of the immortal Miss P glitter in front of your eyes, TAKE THE SHOES OFF. I mean it. If your ankle is not naturally well defined, do nothing to try to define it. You can hate me for saying this if you’re so inclined, but trust me… I actually am a trained professional.
This has been a public service message from your local fashion major.