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How to vet a tailor?

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    How to vet a tailor?

    So I haven't tried any tailors in town yet. The choices are few and far between around here, so I only have maybe 3 "mom and pops" to choose from, and then about 2 very high end besoke clothing companys that will tailor things. Is there anything special I can ask or say to try and see if they know what they are doing? Or things I should look out for? I plan on bringing a blazer to them that needs a reasonable amount of work, but also didn't cost a lot (in the even they ruin it) to see if they can make it right. It needs more work than my other clothes, so I would have to assume if they can make it right, they will have no problem with the other stuff.


    What I've read over and over on the other various style forums/sites is to take in clothes that you won't care if they're ruined or not, the implication being the clothes aren't that expensive.

    I started with old clothes and have slowly entrusted more and more work to the tailor. Old pants (waist taken in, inseam hemmed). Then a $5 thrifted blazer (sides taken in). Then an old (but still wearable) dress shirt (sleeves slimmed, sides taken in, darts added). And to cap it off, my boxy, oversized, suit jacket (sleeves slimmed, sleeves shortened, center back taken in).

    Now all of that might seem like throw-away money, but they're relatively inexpensive and it's helped me to trust their work so that if/when I need to take in something that I really like, I won't have that anxiety.

    Compare that to my experience where I took in a pair of $18 Old Navy dress pants to a local tailor with some mention on StyleForum, and I don't think he even did the inseam alteration but his seamstress helper. It wasn't even in length & it was shorter than where he chalked it. I'm not taking my stuff back to him anymore.



      Before you walk in, know what alterations you want. But don't tell the tailor immediately. Ask for his recommendations. See if his ideas seem like good ideas. See if he misses anything obvious. Don't expect him to agree exactly on style details, but he should have a good idea of what good fit is.

      If you and he disagree stylisticly, it's good if he makes his opinion clear, and justifies it, but if he doesn't convince you, he has to go with your wishes without reservation. He should have a strong sense of style, but it's not necessary that it matches yours. It's his tailoring that has to match your sense of style.

      Ask him to explain exactly what he's going to do, and how. Tell you, and show you. If there are any questions, ask him to to show you by pinning the jacket (obviously, that's only or taking-in alterations, you can't do that with letting out).

      I go this route with pants first; obviously a jacket has different needs. Look for how tight it buttons. Look for that roll beneath the collar at the back. Wear a dress shirt that you would wear with the jacket, and check the "reveal" at the cuff. Sitting. Standing. Buttoned. Unbuttoned. Arms down at your sides. Arms up in the air (i.e. hailing a cab). All in front of a mirror.

      And then, go through it again thoroughly when you go back with the alterations done. If there's something you're not completely happy with, he should be ready to make adjustments. Don't leave until you like the look and the fit. There may be something he can't accomplish. Expect him to explain why.

      Are you happy with your jacket? Do you think you got a good value for your money? If so, I would not recommend looking any further at this time. Go through the whole process a second time, next time you get another jacket (or pants). Does it go smoother? Does he remember you? Does he remember how you like the fit? (Of course, if it's two months later, he should remember; after two years, maybe not).

      If you like him the second time around, and it goes more smoothly than the first time, you need look no further. If you have any doubts at all, and there's another tailor in town, try him the next time. A good tailor is a good find, and when you find one, it's worth a good price to get quality service and workmanship.

      OTR pants rarely fit me properly; jackets never, and went through several tailors. Thought I found the right one, and then decided not (he made some serious mistakes ... pants too short, without enough fabric to lenthen them to the correct length). Very happy with my current tailor. We have a good conversation about the details, and he makes sure I know what to expect, and what he'll do. And what he can't do, just as important. He's a likeable guy, too; we have some chit-chat about unrelated subjects. Not necessary, but it always helps to deal with someone you like.

      Starting with a low-value garment is wise. Going cheap with a budget tailor or seamstress is not wise at all. A dry-cleaner who does a few alterations on the side is not really the way to go. My current tailor is an expert alterations tailor. He does dry-cleaning on the side. His prices are higher than average, and I drive 15 miles to his shop. And it's worth it. Budget tailoring is probably not a good value. A good tailor can work wonders with very inexpensive clothes that don't initially fit well, but there are limitations. Shoulder width of a jacket not to me messed with, and letting ot garments is limited by fabric allowances.

      A good tailor will develop a relationship with you, and you will learn abaout tailoring as he learns about your style and fit needs.



        I brought in photos of Barron from EG as an example of my ideal fit. That helped a LOT. Especially since every tailor I've dealt with doesn't speak English very well.



          @nicholascrawford Link ? August will be my tailoring month. No clothing purchase (easier said than done), all my money goes on tailoring. This could be helpful.










                I have a bunch of items that I need to get

                altered, but I haven't yet due to my lack

                of experience and knowing what I want/should

                get done.

                thanks for the link NC. I had no idea you

                could slim sleeves of a jacket.

                - what does he mean by "slimming down the

                seat of the pants"?



                  It's altering the seat. The seam that follows your buttcrack would get taken in.



                    a big part of getting effective tailoring is being confident enough to ask for what you want....good tailors listen and accept guidance. Pay attention when you walk into the much space in the store is devoted to tailoring (vs dry cleaning....tux rental...etc)...that will tell you something.

                    Pants, in general, are won't really know a tailor's worth until he alters a jacket or shirt for you.....



                      @Nicholascrawford - Thanks for the before/after shots- they demonstrate a marked improvement. However, why did you not button the working buttons on the jacket sleeves to test the length of each sleeve? Is that how you'll be wearing them? Also, I might have considered taking in the pants around the thigh area a bit. It might be a trick of the light or how you're standing in the pictures, but the last few pictures look like you're wearing crop pants since there is bulging around those areas.

                      Great review on the suit, by the way!



                        Thats not him



                          Yeah...I'm not Barron. =D

                          If I can speak for him, he unbuttoned the cuff to demonstrate that the buttons are functional and to show off the contrast lining. For the thighs, I think he's got a pretty athletic build and probably didn't want to go too tight.

                          If it were me, I would go much slimmer in the legs, but I have chicken legs.



                            Jordan, am I remembering correctly that you're in TN? I'm having the same issue as I'm looking for a tailor here in neighboring KY. Difficult to find in a relatively rural landscape.



                              Kidsampson - Yeah im in TN. An area that could care more about where the next big mac is coming from than how they are dressed/look

                              I dropped off my LL Bean navy chino sportcoat at the tailor im trying first. He didnt measure me, but did pin everything up and basically let me direct him on what i wanted. And the jacket fit well except the middle being brought in and the sleeves so maybe that negated a lot of need for a measurement? He fought me a bit on showing the cuff, as he said that's too short. I showed him a pic of Sabir from MensStylePro and that seemed to make him back off a bit. He was up front about the increased cost of moving the sleeves up via the shoulder rather than the cuff since the buttons are functional (this is one reason I brought my most ill fitting blazer to him, to see if he would do that or just chop it off mid button and call it good). He even showed me examples of people who wanted it chopped at the button because it was cheaper and said he didn't agree with it. There was a pretty thick language barrier, but I went into it expecting that. It will be done next saturday ( i told him no rush). So I will post a before and after pic at that point so you guys can critique.