How To Find and Work With A Tailor

Looking like a million bucks is all about the fit of your clothes. When your clothes fit you perfectly, you look like a smashing success. When clothes are too loose, tight, short or long, you look sloppy and unsuccessful.

Off-the-rack clothing is made from a generic pattern and doesn’t fit anyone perfectly. Almost everyone has a body part that doesn’t fit the generic mold – shoulders that are broader or narrower, a waist that is bigger or smaller, a booty that is fuller or flatter, legs that are longer or shorter. You know your part, it’s the one that frustrates you.

Almost everyone needs tailoring to make clothing fit his or her unique body. Most clothing can be made smaller or shorter. Before buying a garment that is too tight or short, check to see if there’s room in the seams to let it out/down. Or bring the piece to your tailor to see if it can be adjusted. Leave the tags on so you can return it if the garment can’t be altered to fit you.

Finding a Tailor

A great tailor understands garment construction, style and fashion. This isn’t usually the person that does alterations at the neighborhood drycleaners. Beware, an “alterationist” often alters the fashion right out of your clothes and leaves you with a boring, unfashionable, or awkward garment. They don’t adjust button holes on cuffs when changing a sleeve length or rework a waistband to hide darts when reducing the size of a waist. A skilled tailor will transform bad clothes into fashionable clothes or a good outfit into a spectacular one without leaving evidence that the garments were ever changed. The finishes and linings will be perfect, like the clothes were originally made that way.

What Can Be Fixed?

A tailor can change the fit, proportion or style of your clothes. A tailor or seamstress can make minor adjustments:
· Raise or lowering hems on blouses, t-shirts, skirts, or pants,
· Add an extra button, snap, or hook to keep a shirt, blouse or sweater closed,
· Take in/let out waist bands on pants or skirts, or
· Change out buttons.

The skilled tailor can also make major restyling renovations:
· Change a neckline from crew to scoop
· Turn a long full skirt into a knee-length pencil skirt,
· Change the width of lapels,
· Change a lightweight trench coat into a short jacket,
· Turn pants into walking shorts,
· Transform a long ruffle skirt into a sassy mini.

Here are a couple restyling examples (thank you

How much should you spend?

Some stylists recommend reserving 20% of your budget for tailoring. I think tailoring is always worth the money, no matter how much it costs, if the end result fits you perfectly and makes you look and feel fantastic. In general, add the cost of the garment to the cost of the tailoring and evaluate whether the piece is worth the total price to you. For instance, if you pay $20 for a pair of jeans on sale and spend another $35 for tailoring…are you happy to pay $55 for the resulting custom-fit jeans? It’s always okay to pay more for tailoring than you paid for the original garment, if you are happy with the total price of final garment.

So, before you truck off all the clothes you cleared out of your closet for spring cleaning, bring a few to your tailor and see if they can be restyled or reworked. Sometimes those destined-for-donation pieces become your favorite go-to clothes. If you’re stuck or want suggestions about how to fix a specific garment, post a pic below and I’ll be happy to suggest some alterations to make it work for you.

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