How to Approach the Tailor, the Right Way

I’m sure everyone has been reading article after article about Manshion-approved fashion; and now that you’ve done some shopping or rummaged the closet, it is time to put advice into action. Well the best way to do this is by visiting your local tailor, but before you do, make sure you have the right ingredients in order to minimize your costs.

First, let’s start with shirts. I usually work from the ground up, but hey…they are easy. When you buy a shirt, please, pretty please make sure it has the proper arm length and neck size. If you are a 16 ½ 34 like I am, do not march in with a 17 33. It is much easier to abuse the shirt length on the excessive side (say 35), then it is to lengthen where there is no extra fabric (actually, by the laws of physics, that’s impossible).  I’d hesitate to ever abuse the collar size, as this will be expensive, confusing, and may Picasso your shirt.  To recap; get the exact neck size, we aren’t tailoring it…and make sure that if you get the wrong sleeve length, that it is longer, not shorter. Now you are ready for the tailor to crush the excessive fabric by cutting the sides around your rib cage and pinching excess sleeve material that otherwise have you looking like Megaman.

Second, the pants. A bit trickier, so please remember, it is a tailor, not Merlin the Magician. My main message is to always overshoot the sizes rather than undershoot. The next message is – DON’T overshoot by more than one size! If you come in with baggy slacks that look like they double for a sleeping bag, 1) you’ll be embarrassed, 2) it will cost you way more money, 3) it may be impossible to fix with alterations even by a very skilled tailor.  So try to nail your waist size or get one size up, so the operation is painless.  If you find yourself with a size down, that’s a near fit and worth the trouble, ask your tailor how much room there is to let them out.  I’m pushin the overshoot route, though, as there’s typically no more than 1/2-1″ to let out in the waist/crotch of an unpleated pant. If you are getting flat front slacks, most likely they won’t have cuffs at the bottom, but if they do they are easily removed. If you have pleated pants, either wear them with your suit or giving to charity, because you don’t want to pay to un-pleat pants, nor does your tailor want to try…they may never be the same again! Remember when you consult the tailor about pant length, that you don’t want any bagginess at the bottom, so don’t be afraid if a little sock shoes when you are walking, when you stand still the pant and shoe will meet as if in sync with one another.

The goal is to never need a belt for functionality, just as an added bonus! The goal of the shirt is to not be able to skydive without a parachute! You have the keys for success, now do it as cheaply as possible. Remember, tailor things that are closest to your true measurements, the more work the more money it will cost you and the more room for error.

-A Business Man

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