We all know by now that whether it’s a $20 blouse or a $200 dress, we need to visit a trusted tailor for the achieve the most flattering fit. Bodies come in all shapes and most brands seem to never be using a model shaped like the procurer of their fine garments. But not everything can be fixed. For instance, a piece cannot magically become bigger, but we can almost always make it a size or two smaller. Envisioning what the outfit will look like after a visit to the tailor has given me the comfort to purchase clothing that might not have fit just right off the rack. But how do you know what magic a tailor can perform? If what you imagine is even possible?
From How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing, I put together a list of alterations that are worth giving a go and some that are just best avoided. Dapper husband and I often find ourselves inspecting the fit of the garments for each other through the lens of this list: Can that be changed? How difficult is such an alteration? Is it worth it?
7 Alterations to Consider
- A shirt that is too long: Shorten it or ask for a shirt-tail hem
- Boxy Shirt: (by far the one I run into most often) Anywhere a straight seam exists you can have it taken in. I have also requested darts be added to a few of my boxy, button-up blouses without issue.
- Strappy shirt or dress that hangs too low: You can have the straps taken up.
- Pants or Skirt too long? You can get them hemmed.
- Pants or Skirt too big at the waist? You can add darts right above the roundest part of your bum for a flattering taper fit.
- Sleeves too big and poofy? You can have them slimmed down.
- You can also taper a trouser leg
And bonus tip: it is always a good idea to replace plastic zippers with metal ones
Also, I had thought (and even read in a few places) that it is impossible to alter a sweater. My tailor has proven this is not true. If it has a seam, it is worth asking for. I had a handful of sweaters that were great quality wool (and such a steal!) but too boxy. My tailor fixed them right up.
So what about the things you might want to forego attempting?
- Bad armhole
- Too long jacket sleeve if there are details that might be difficult to move (cuffs, buttons, etc.)
- Too long or too wide of a body with pockets. Pockets can make it nearly impossible to bring in seams.
- Too-small garment- there’s only so much fabric
3 Things that tend to run more expensive than others:
- Pleated, Sequined, beaded, lace, or chiffon is labor intensive
- If it has a lining it will be about two times the amount to alter it as it’s two times the work.
- Leather or suede is expensive. If you want to go for it anyway, you would want to check to make sure they are materials your tailor works with