From repairing, to reinforcing, to re-imagining, a tailor is an asset to the everyday shopper, but to the secondhand-styled, they can be a godsend! Sometimes all it takes is a much needed alteration to transform an ill-fitting relic of yesteryear into a dashing closet staple. Smart tailoring not only doubles your money by buying secondhand and vintage, it also lets you explore your creative side with custom rejigging all the while supporting local businesses. Here are seven tips you’ll want to check out before you get those pants taken in.
Look High, Look Low
A good tailor is worth their weight in gold and are almost always kept busy by their faithful returning clientele. To find a tailor to befriend, ask your sharply dressed co-workers and neighbors, read reviews, and check out alteration shops in your neighborhood for a visible representation of their work. Know their policies, deadlines, and guarantees before you drop off that hand-spun silk family heirloom.
Haggling Not Recommended
While hemming pants may take less than 10 minutes at the hands of a master tailor, reconstructing a suit jacket or slimming a pair of slacks will undoubtedly take longer and cost more. Alteration shops take this extra effort and time into consideration when quoting prices on individual pieces, so this is not the time to break out your bartering skills. Instead visit several shops and find the comparable going rate in your area.
Seams, Repairs, and Hardware
A good rule of thumb to know when it comes to tailoring is that alterations involving fit are usually made along pre-existing seams. Consider how seams lay before purchasing, especially among shoulders, backs, and the seat of pants. Rips, tears, and holes can often be patched up for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Buttons and zippers come in a variety of styes and can make a noticeable aesthetic difference to a piece of clothing. Be sure to take your tailor’s advice on which hardware is better suited for the garment ensuring your alteration will stand the test of time.
When it comes to buying shirts and jackets, it’s important to pay attention to the fit of the shoulders and neck. The shoulder seam should lay right at the point your shoulder begins to slope downward and collars should fit snugly around your neck. Keeping in mind that it’s always easier to take in items that are baggy than it is to let out seams, the chest and waist shouldn’t pull at the buttons. Darts can be added to remove some of the volume along the back or under the bust, and sleeves can be shortened and slimmed to a more modern shape.
Bringing The Bottoms
When shopping for casual pants, look for trousers and jeans that fit comfortably in the crotch, butt, and waist because only slight alterations can be made discretely. Slacks and skirts made of suiting material can hide larger alterations more easily such as darting or a total re-cut of the seat. All pants, jeans, skirts, and dresses can be slimmed along the sides with the exception of items featuring voluminous pleats. Hems are pretty standard across the board, but tailors often charge more if a garment is lined or if you prefer a heavy cuff. It is crucial when getting fitted to bring the shoes you are most likely going to wear with the item. The tailor will need to make adjustments to the length and fit depending on heel height and stature.
Quality footwear can last a lifetime if cared for properly and routinely. A cobbler can replace the insole and cushion, refinish leather uppers and hardware, and fix cracked or worn heel bases to keep you in good standing order. Have you noticed that your boots or shoes tend to wear down faster on one side? Let the repair shop know and they can protect your soles against future wear. Specialty services such as mending broken straps, stretching leather, or custom design work can run a pretty penny depending on how labor intensive it is. It’s important to note that not every alteration shop offers services on rehabbing shoes, however several high-end brands offer in house services.
To Tip or Not To Tip
Now tipping isn’t usually expected with your common alterations, but if you find your tailor doing more than basic handiwork for you — a little monetary appreciation couldn’t hurt. You know you’re in the presence of a great tailor when his regulars treat him like family and send a little extra love around the holidays.