Last Updated on May 22, 2023 by Alterations Express Staff
We’ve said it once & we’ll say it again — FIT is the most important aspect of style. BUT especially suit style. Everything else about your suit does not matter — cost, fabric, designer, label, whether it’s custom-made, bespoke, or off-the-rack; if your suit does not fit you well, it will not look good.
Alright, so now that we agree? Buying an off-the-rack suit and having it tailored to perfection IS the smartest decision for your suit style. And your wallet. But the question is, how do you take a $75 off-the-rack suit & get it to fit you perfectly? What are the most common alterations completed on suits? And how much will it cost to tailor your suit?
Tips for Buying Off-the-Rack Suits
- Know Your Measurements: We cannot overstate the importance of this one! Especially when buying an off-the-rack suit, knowing your proper pant & sport jacket size is essential. If you don’t get this step right, you’ll spend even more on tailoring and probably not be as satisfied with the final fit. Where to get measured? Most local tailors will measure you free of charge (we do this, so feel free to visit any Alterations Express & we can measure you for your suit on the spot!). Additionally, most menswear retailers (i.e., Bonobos, Indochino, Men’s Wearhouse, Brooks Brothers, Jos. A. Bank, etc.) can measure you.
- Sport Jackets & Fit in the Shoulders: If all else fails, be sure that your sport jacket fits you perfectly in the shoulders. A tailor can usually and fairly affordably tailor your suit in all the other areas. But the shoulders are a different story. Why? Firstly, when the shoulders of a suit jacket are too big, it’s extremely noticeable. Take a look at the image below to get an idea of what we’re talking about. Secondly, the shoulder area of a sport is a bit difficult and expensive to alter. So, instead of spending more money on tailoring, invest in a higher-quality suit that is your correct size from the start.
Suit Tailoring is NOT like other Alterations
Tailoring a suit is very different from other alterations we perform for customers. Why? Because of the precision with which a suit is designed, taking in an excessive amount of material (i.e., 2 inches or more) will change the original fit of the garment. The change in design will likely require more alterations to be done to correct the fit & allow the garment to lay as it was intended.
We know that was a bit confusing. So, here’s an example to get our point across. Let’s say you want to get your suit pants tapered, but you need each leg taken in about two inches on the outside. Remember that your pants have a center crease that runs the length of the garment. And if you take in two inches from the outside seam, you’ll lose your center crease and the symmetry of the pants.
Therefore, to preserve the original design, a tailor will instead perform an in & out taper on the pants. An in & out seam taper (in this case) would take in an inch on each side of the pant to maintain the center crease.
Clearly, suit tailoring is very complex. That’s why it’s important to find a skilled tailor that you can trust.
Sport Jackets & Pants vs. Suits
When you’re getting a suit tailored, it’s helpful to think about your pants & sport jacket as separate because that’s how your tailor will price your alterations. Just remember that your suit will be treated as two separate garments, pants & sport jacket.
And your alterations will be priced accordingly.
Most Common Suit Alterations
- Blind Hem: $15 – $20
- Take-in Waist & Seat: $18 – $35
- Taper Hip to Floor: $22 – $50
- Knee to Floor: $20 – $45
- Hip to Knee: $15 – $45
- Shorted Sleeves with Vents: $28 – $35
- Vents & Buttons (Lined): $25 – $50
- Vents & Fake Buttonholes (Lined): $30 – $45
- Vents & Cut Buttonholes (Lined): $35 – $50
- Take-in Center Seam (Lined): $18 – $25
- Sides (Lined): $23 – $30
- Center Seam & Reset Vent: $30 – $42
- Sides (Lined) & Reset Vents: $45 – $60
- All 3 Seams (Lined): $35 – $50
*Garments with a lining cost more to alter than unlined garments
The most common alterations for suits are: shorten sleeves with vents & buttons (lined), blind hem, and taper pants knee to floor. To learn more about tailoring terminology, check out our guide on What to Know Before Going to a Tailor.
How Much Does it Cost to Tailor a Suit?
We strongly recommend having your measurements taken by a professional before buying an off-the-rack suit. This will help you save money on tailoring & help get a better overall fit. On average, you can expect to spend between $60 to $135 to tailor your suit.
If you have other questions about tailoring, suit alterations, or suit style, check out more blog content from the AE team by visiting The Tailor Shop. And don’t forget to browse our expedited alteration services so you can take advantage of same-day & next-day suit tailoring by Alterations Express.