Finding “your” tailor is much harder than finding “a” tailor. You’re looking for a person to help your create your look.
7 Tips to Finding the Right Tailor
The label doesn’t matter. A good tailor can make a so-so suit look good and a good suit look smashing. No matter how expensive the garment, if it doesn’t fit right, it’s a wasted opportunity to look great.
Don’t let an inexperienced tailor near your clothes. You wouldn’t let an inexperienced surgeon remove your appendix, would you? Good tailors have a long history with cloth. Most apprenticed for years to learn the trade. A surprising number come from a family lineage of tailors. You can ask them how long they’ve been doing it, they’ll probably be glad to tell you.
A tailor’s work should be practically undetectable. I found one common alteration that can separate the good from the mediocre. No matter what size you are, often there is a gap at the center back waist of pants. Having this taken in will make the pants fit perceptibly better.A good tailor will remove the waistband, take in the pants and the waistband separately, then re-attach the two pieces. A mediocre one will just take darts in the back without removing the waistband, creating bulky lumps that never lay flat and can feel like your have rocks against your skin.
A botched hem ruins the look of a garment. The new hem should be stitched the same way as the original hem. Jeans and casual pants can have straight stitched hems (you can see a row of stitches on the outside). Trousers, dresses, and skirts usually have what are called blind stitch hems (these can be done by hand or machine and you can’t see the stitches on the outside). A new hem should never be done without removing the original hem first.
Not all tailors are equal. Some are artists who have a feel for how a garment should fit and the knowledge to make that happen. I’ve tried 4 tailors since I moved to my current town 2 years ago. The best one, by a mile, is Anna. She’s a fit wizard, who also makes custom gowns and suits for some of her clients.
Ask how long it will take. If the wait is unusually long you might want to look elsewhere. You don’t want to lose a season’s wear just waiting for your coat to be taken in.
Ask how much before you leave your items. Most tailors have a list of standard alterations and prices. You usually get what you pay for, but there’s no guarantee that the most expensive tailor will be the best one-that you have to gauge for yourself.
The Designer YOU, the Maker Who?
The new “Design Your Own” websites allow users to design jeans, bras, and shoes. The BIG Caveat? It’s tricky to get it right and there are NO RETURNS. Hmm, sounds like a good case for a great tailor!
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