The perks of tailoring
Why you should be friends with your tailor
Words— Kate Dingwall
Friendly reminder: Masks are mandatory inside stores, please be sure to bring your own as well as to sanitize your hands after stepping in. If you or anyone you’ve been in contact with are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home and follow your local health department’s instructions.
A good tailor doubles as a magician. You bring him (or her) your droopy jeans, your too-long shirts and they’ll conjure them into perfectly fitted garments. They can abracadabra your off-the-rack blazer into an I'll-never-believe-it's-not-bespoke piece. Your old jeans? Well, they're your new favourite pair of shorts now.
Think of your tailor as your fairy godmother. You don’t deserve to have clothes that don’t fit you perfectly, and a tailor can transform your worn shirts and baggy blazers into pieces that feel made for you (well, that’s because they are). It doesn’t require a sky-high budget either: simple tucks will cost around $20, with more major alterations maxing out at $50.
Have you been making excuses for not seeing a tailor? That’s common. It feels expensive! It’s hard to haul your clothes around! It’s so much effort! But we’re making a case to cozy up to your tailor.
Make Off-the-Rack Bespoke
Most folks aren't sample size, so chances are, not every piece you pull off the rack will fit you perfectly. After all, there's a reason there are a million pins in the back of mannequins. But instead of hanging an ill-fitting piece back on the rack, consider a tweak from a tailor.
Loose waistband? You can alter that. Shoulders slightly large? The tailor can alter that. Keep this in mind when you hit the mall next time: it’ll open a million new doors.
When you’re shopping, look for bottoms that fit the widest part of your body: the rest can be tailored down. Follow this for tops and outwear as well: find pieces that fit in the shoulders are bust line, then taper the rest in.
Upgrade Your Vintage Game
Many are deterred from buying vintage gear: it can feel like a gamble with sizing, especially considering that sizing conventions have changed drastically over the last few decades. With a little nip and tuck, pre-owned or vintage threads can feel just as good as buying them new.
It's the thrifty choice
Speaking of savings, a tailor can salvage items otherwise destined for the trash. That shirt you've had since college that doesn't quite fit like it used to? It can be let out! Those designer jeans with a crotch rip, courtesy a late-night dance bonanza? A patch or two and they can be good as new.
Instead of buying new clothes, try investing money in simple clothes. You’re keeping clothes out of landfills, and each piece you repair will save you the cost of a new garment. Let the savings accumulate, then splurge on a big-ticket item.
Revise and refine almost anything
A genuinely excellent tailor can go beyond a few small alterations. They can take stale buttons of a vintage blazer and add new ones, giving it a new edge. They can add elbow patches when trends dictate or patch up ripped jeans with hip fabric swatches.
Tips for Tailoring
- Know Your Limits: When you are buying vintage, keep in mind that a tailor is talented, yes, but they aren't miracle workers. They can only alter what is already there: if the pants are too short, they can’t conjure more fabric.
- Build Your Trust: Build your relationship with your tailor. Start by giving them small tasks—a rip here or a tuck there, then work your way up to more significant alterations. Next thing you know, your tailor will be the one sprucing up your wedding day suit.
- Trust the Menswear Experts: Finding a good tailor is like finding an apartment you like and isn’t a million dollars: it is like finding a needle in a haystack. The easiest solution? Ask the folks at your favourite higher-end store who they use. They've probably got a guy, and any of the staff will be happy to direct you their tried-and-true tailor. If they are good enough for the menswear experts, they're good enough for you.
- Communicate: When you bring your piece in, speak openly about what you'd like the finished piece to look like. Communicate how you would like it to fit. You can even bring in a favourite piece you own for a fit reference. A good tailor should be able to talk you through what they're doing, pinning and marking as they go along.
- Know When to Skip: While we vouch for tailoring, there are a few pieces you shouldn't be bothered to alter. No amount of alterations can save poorly constructed pieces: think those cheap-and-cheerful fast-fashion pieces. Anything trend-forward can be skipped as well: by the time you purchase a piece and have it altered, chances are the trend has passed.