Of all the factors involved in making a man look good, fit is paramount. It’s the difference between looking sloppy and turning out sharp, making a great first impression or shooting yourself in the foot.
Yet finding the perfect-fitting tee, trousers or suit is virtually impossible when buying off-the-peg. Sure, shimmy and writhe your way through a few different sizes and you’ll find one that fits well, but a glove-like fit can’t be bought unless you go bespoke.
Which is where a tailor comes in. With a good tailor on speed dial you’ll have all kinds of sartorial sorcery at your fingertips – from giving tired pieces a new lease of life to making a high street suit look a whole lot more expensive.
These are the most important things your tailor can do for you:
1. Replace Buttons And Zippers
No, it’s not exactly rocket science, but having your tailor replace missing buttons or faulty zippers saves you having to carve out the time to do it yourself. (Or, you know, learn how to do it in the first place.)
2. Make Your Trousers Longer Or Shorter
When choosing between a pair of trousers that fits well at the waist but not through the leg and a pair that fits nicely through the leg but not at the waist, always plump for the former – because your tailor can help you with the rest.
Altering trouser leg length is a relatively low-cost, fuss-free alteration. To shorten trousers or jeans, a tailor simply removes the garment’s original stitching (and any excess fabric) and creates a new hem that sits higher up the trouser leg.
Lengthening, on the other hand, is more complex (and costly) and involves sewing on additional fabric to the leg and lowering the hem to achieve a better trouser break.
3. Taper Trouser Legs
One for guys who don’t skip leg day, tapering trouser legs is an easy way of ensuring trousers or jeans that fit at your waist and thigh also fit well through the lower leg.
Tapering involves slimming the trouser leg down from the mid-thigh/knee area to the break, stripping away excess fabric and creating a new seam that sits closer to the body. Ideal if you want your denim or chinos to look less like your dad’s.
4. Make Your Shirt Fit Better
You might not prize your shirt as highly as the tailoring you wear on top of it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth streamlining.
Adding darts (subtle sewn-in folds) to a shirt can instantly improve how it fits through the torso, tucking in excess fabric and giving you a sleeker silhouette.
Although you’ll find plenty of DIY guides on adding darts to a shirt, it – like most alterations – is best left to a tailor you trust unless you consider yourself a skilled seamster.
5. Give Your Shirt A New Neckline
Always thought that crew neck would work better as a boat neck? Or maybe you want to kill the collar on your favourite button-down?
A good tailor can help you achieve both. Although in many cases, like with a T-shirt for example, it’ll be easier (and more affordable) to just buy a new one, having your tailor work on the neckline is not only a more environmentally-friendly approach, it’ll also allow you to keep what you like about the garment (e.g. the colour or print) while optimising how it fits at the neck.
You can also have your tailor switch up your smarter shirts by replacing the collar (and cuffs in some cases) with a different style – e.g. scrapping a classic straight point collar for a tab collar, or trying a different colour in the same style to create a custom contrast collar shirt.
6. Get Rid Of Pockets
Some shirts look better sans chest pockets. So if you’d rather your favourite shirt had a more minimal appearance, check in with your tailor who should be able to remove the pocket(s) without leaving behind much of a trace.
Results vary, with holes from where the pocket was originally stitched sometimes visible, so get your tailor’s professional opinion before pushing the button on this one.
7. Slim Down A Suit Jacket
Arguably the best thing about buying a suit off-the-peg is the money it saves you. But, while it’s possible to pick up a pretty close fit, chances are you won’t look bespoke by buying ready-to-wear.
There is one tailoring solution that can make a serious difference, though – taking your suit jacket in at the sides. Many of us already know that suit jacket sleeves can be shortened and trousers can be made slimmer, but your tailor can also give your suit jacket something closer to a custom fit.
This works especially well for guys with a naturally broad back and shoulders. Just make sure the suit you opt for is as close a fit as possible – especially through the shoulders and back – so that a simple taking-in at the waist is all that’s needed to look on-point.
8. Reline A Suit Jacket
Love your off-the-peg suit jacket but want to make yours more personal to you? Your tailor might be able to help.
Relining an entire suit jacket isn’t easy, with intricate work required to fashion new interior pockets and ensure the new lining sits just right in the shell of the blazer. So, while prices vary hugely, this alteration typically doesn’t come cheap.
9. Rotate A Jacket Sleeve
Another fix that’s definitely not for newbs, changing a jacket sleeve’s pitch – that is, the angle that the sleeve is attached to the body of the jacket at the shoulder and the corresponding way it sits on your arm when it’s at rest – isn’t so much a routine alteration as an impressive feat of engineering.
Even the slightest change in pitch requires the suit jacket’s sleeve to be removed entirely in order to be tilted, so reserve this one for a blazer you see yourself wearing for many years to come.
Are there other tailoring fixes you’d like to find out more about? And have you tried any of these at home?
Let us know below.