What to Know Before Going to a Tailor
Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by Alterations Express Staff
Fit is the most important aspect of your style. We know you’re probably sick of hearing this from us, but it really is. And finding a tailor to help you achieve the perfect fit is essential to mastering this aspect of style. The best way to get your clothes to fit well is to take them to the tailor. We understand that going to a tailor or seamstress for the first time can be a little intimidating. Especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for or have never visited a tailor before, you’re not sure what to expect during your visit.
So, we’ve created an all-encompassing guide of tips & tricks on what to know before going to a tailor for the first time. Curious about what to expect during your visit to Alterations Express? Check out this short video to learn what to expect during your visit.
- Get referrals & recommendations
- Research to find the right tailor
- Understand what alterations you’ll need
- Do you need to tip a tailor?
- Take in sample clothing as a try out
- Make sure your clothing is clean
- Find out pricing & estimated costs
- Bring the proper shoes with you
- Try on at pick-up
Get Referrals & Recommendations on Where to Go
If you’re not sure where to start or how to find the right tailor for you, we recommend first asking your friends, family, coworkers, and favorite retailers for their recommendations. Ask the people in your life whose style you admire and would want to emulate. You’ll get a pretty good idea of the best alteration shops in your area, what they can alter, and how they’ve helped others in the past.
Pro Tip: Don’t get caught up with terminology around tailors, seamstresses, tailoresses, etc. In fact, most of the time, both tailors and seamstresses can perform alterations on both men’s and women’s clothing. Instead, find out what these providers specialize in and make sure that it aligns with what you’re looking to have done to your clothing.
Research to Find the Right Tailor for You
Research to Find the Right Tailor for You
We also recommend going a step further to research local alteration shops, tailors, and seamstresses in your area. Head to Google or Yelp to read reviews from customers, check out their website, and make sure that they offer the services that you’ll require for your alterations. Also, make sure to factor in their shop location and their hours of operation. We highly recommend finding an alterations provider that is close to your home or work, and their hours of operation will work for your schedule!
Once you’ve narrowed down your options to two or three tailors, call the shop to ask questions about what you’re looking to have done to your clothing. You’ll learn a lot about what a tailor or seamstress can do with just a quick phone call. And most of the time, you can also get pricing estimates over the phone so you can easily shop around for the best deal too.
Understand What Alterations You’ll Need
Walking into a tailor shop with a better understanding of the tailoring, what is in style, and alterations will make your trip much more convenient. And it’ll also make you feel more confident during your visit and alieve some apprehension. Familiarize yourself with some common alteration terms:
- Hem – To shorten the length of your pants or sleeves. (keep in mind that with dress shirts, this often involves removing the cuff, so expect to pay a few more dollars)
- Let it out – To release the hem a bit in order to allow for more length or girth
- Take it in – Tighten pants at the waist or a shirt or jacket around the chest. (this usually involves removing the fabric from the back)
- Bring it up – To shorten the length of pants, jacket, or overcoat
- Inseam – The seam from the crotch of your pants down to the bottom of the leg
- Rise – Pants rise is the length from the waist to the bottom of the crotch
- Darts – Folds sewn into a garment to improve the shape and reduce bagginess. A common, affordable way to slim a shirt
- Taper – To narrow sleeves or legs. (think about how modern pants are more narrow at the ankle than at the thigh – this is a taper)
- Original hem – Cutting fabric from the bottom of jeans, then sewing the factory hem onto the new bottom. (Preferred method.)
- Cuff – The end of a dress shirt sleeve or bottom of dress pants that have been rolled up 1-3 inches
- Off-the-rack – Produced in mass quantity; purchased online or in a store
- Unfinished hem – Pants that have no sewn hem at the bottom. A lot of dress pants come this way.
Terminology & definitions from Primer.
Definitely do some research about what’s currently in style and how you want current trends to influence the fit of your clothing. For example, know what type of pant break you’d like for your suit. Or if you’d like your pants tapered for a slimmer fit.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
And don’t be afraid to ask questions and share your opinion during your visit! When you visit a tailor, you’re paying for a service, and they want you to be satisfied with your alterations. During your fitting, be sure to pay attention to the pinning. Speak up if you’d like something to be changed, taken in more, or tapered differently. You won’t offend anyone, and ensure that you’re satisfied with the final product.
Do You Need to Tip a Tailor
You do not need to tip a tailor or seamstress during your visit.
Take in Sample Clothing as a Try-Out
We recommend during your first visit to a new tailor that you start out with a simple alteration project, like a jean hem. Once you’ve built trust with your local tailor, then bring in more complex alterations like suit alterations.
Make Sure Your Clothing is Clean
Some tailors and local alteration shops reserve the right to only work on clean clothing & garments. Keep that in mind before making the trip to the tailor of your choice.
Find Out Piricng & Estimated Costs
Before your visit, get an idea of what you can expect in terms of cost. And shop around for the best deals. Most of the time, you can get price estimates for alterations over the phone. However, often you’ll have to bring in your clothing to get an accurate price estimate.
Bring Proper Shoes with You
Don’t forget to bring the proper shoes with you for your fitting. This is essential, especially when you’re getting pants hemmed. Also, if you’re getting a dress or formal altered, make sure to bring the proper undergarments with you, as shapewear can change the way a garment lays.
Try On at Pick Up
And finally, remember to try on your clothing before you leave your local alteration shop to make sure that you’re satisfied with the work. Most of the time, tailors can make adjustments immediately and free of charge at pick-up if necessary.
You can find out more about what to know before going to a tailor or what to expect during a visit by watching this video. To find out more about how much alterations cost, how long alterations take, or tips on how to tailor your suit, visit the Alterations Express blog.
It was helpful when you said to look for local shops. My sister told me on the phone last night about her wedding dress being too big on her, so she wants to make sure she can find the right alterations shop to fix it for her as soon as possible. I’ll pass these tips along to her so she can know how to find the right alteration shop to go to for her wedding dress.