By Wendy Kilmer
Before you toss, donate or consign the dress that just doesn’t fit properly or the shapeless top that doesn’t flatter, consider consulting with a tailor or alterations specialist. You may find you already own a piece you love – once it fits perfectly.
Fran Stone, owner of A-Town Cleaners, said the most common items brought in for alterations are pants to be hemmed or re-hemmed and buttons to be replaced. However, Stone suggests online finds or even second-hand finds could be given new life with a better fit, with some caveats.
“Be careful and know what you are buying,” she said. “Bargain or inexpensive clothing may cost you more to have tailored than the item itself.”
Ndulu Amagito, tailor at Men’s Wearhouse in Abilene since 2012, said he sees all types of garments come through the store for alteration, particularly suits and men’s clothing, but nearly any type of clothing could be a candidate for tailoring.
“Sometimes people’s bodies will change, and their clothes cannot fit, so they may think they can’t be worn,” Amagito said. “My role as a tailor is to appreciate or respect what people do in their lives, and if things change, if they lose or gain weight, they need to stop by or contact a tailor and look at their options.”
Beyond items that are too small or too large, tailoring can give clothes a more custom look or can update a dated piece.
“It can change the look of the garment and the entire wardrobe,” Stone said. “For example, changing the buttons can change the whole look of a jacket.”
Amagito said people are often unaware of the options available to them through tailoring. Men’s Wearhouse offers tailoring for men’s clothing purchased in its store or elsewhere and does some limited, basic tailoring services for women’s clothing as well.
“As a tailor, I have the opportunity to help people buying clothes, and an important part of my role is to help customers get what they need and save them time and money,” Amagito said. “I always try to keep that in mind when helping a customer.”
Terms to Know
Excerpted from an article by RJ Firchau in The GentleManual (ties.com/blog). Reproduced with permission.
Hem: The edge of a piece of fabric that is (or needs to be) sewn to prevent it from unraveling. Most suit trousers are sold unhemmed with the intent of you taking them to a tailor to give them a custom fit.
Inseam: The inseam is the seam that binds the inner pant leg. It is also the measurement of the length between the bottom crotch and the lower
ankle. This is normally the length that pants sizing refers to when they give you waist and length measurements. The opposite of the inseam is the outseam, which measures the distance between the waistband to the hem of the pants.
Rise: The rise refers to the difference between a pair of pants’ inseam and outseam lengths.
Break: How much of the bottom of the trousers meet the shoes. This can range from no break (absolutely no folding over/pants just skim the top of the shoe) to a full break (one full fold above the shoe).
Cuff: Cuffs are intentional folds created by the tailor at the bottom of your pants. They are more traditional than un-cuffed pants, and lend themselves well to trousers that are pleated. However, un-cuffed hems are better suited to slim, tapered pants. Be sure to let your tailor know if you want cuffs or not so he can factor it into his alteration.
Waist: your literal waist (smallest part of your torso) measurement Seat: your hip measurement at the widest part
Bottom: the desired hem circumference of your pant legs
Taper: Tapering means narrowing, and in the case of fabric, it means when something is ‘taken in.’ Examples of tapering would be the narrowing of a pant leg, the narrowing of a jacket waist, and the narrowing of a jacket sleeve.
Suppress (the waist): Cinching/tapering a jacket’s waist to accentuate the “V” shape of the torso.
Take in: Another term similar to suppressing the waist, and one that’s arguably more common. Taking in the sides refers to removing fabric at the seams on either side of a shirt or jacket.
Darts: An overlapped/folded over and sewn piece of fabric that’s meant to add dimension and shape to a garment. Darts can be added if your
jacket or shirt fits relatively well and you want a more defined shape without taking in/removing fabric.
Vent: A slit or slits located at the tail of a jacket. Center vents (1) are traditional, whereas double vents (2) are more modern and will allow for an overall more fitted jacket. If your jacket has no vents, consider adding 1 or 2 for a more tailored fit and increased ease of mobility.
Darning: A sewing technique used to repair holes with only a needle and thread. This technique is usually reserved for mending holes that don’t run along a seam.
Overweaving: The process of fixing small holes by using fabric found elsewhere on the suit, and weaving it together in order to create a near-invisible patch. Reweaving is reserved for small holes.
Reweaving: The process of literally weaving individual threads into the original cloth to stitch a tear back together and make it appear as if it were never torn in the first place. Once again, this process is reserved for small holes and tears.