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Getting the Most Out of Your Tailor Shop

Getting The Most Out of Your Tailor Shop

What is it about tailored clothing that makes guys look so good? The fabric plays a big role. So does the styling and combinations of items. But those things can all be ruined by poor fit. That’s why a trip to the tailor shop can make a world of difference and turn an average ensemble into something that oozes effortless sophistication.

Wait, did somebody say effortless? When we think of effortless, we think of the Effortless Gent himself, style blogger and Look of the Week alumnus, Barron Cuadro. So we called in Barron to give us his take on getting the most out of your tailor. From how to choose one, to the terminology of tailors, we break it down for you below with Barron’s help. Check it out. We think you’ll find it only fitting (pun intended) that we chose someone with knowledge and experience to provide a gameplan for working with your tailor.

Things Tailors Do For Love (or Money)

To get what you want out of a trip to a tailor shop, it helps to speak a little Tailorese. Tailors can do a lot of things for your garment and different tailor shops use different lingo, but most stick with the basic terms for what they can do for you:

Tailor Shop Basics - Let Stuff Out

Let Stuff Out: Many garments come with a bit of extra fabric at the seams. Letting a garment out refers to giving you extra room in areas where extra fabric exists.

Tailor Shop Basics - Take Stuff In

Take Stuff In: Just as they can give you more room, tailors can trim parts of garments down by pulling in more extra fabric at the seams.

Tailor Shop Basics - Taper Stuff

Taper Stuff: When a tailor gradually narrows areas of garments, like pants legs, by taking in a little more at the ankle than at the knee, they call it tapering. It gets its name from the tapir, a Central American animal whose snout gradually narrows as it gets closer to the ground. (We might have made that last part up, but trust us on the tapering.)

Finding a Good Tailor

Tailor Shop Basics - Finding a Good Tailor
How do you know if a tailor is any good? A good tailor should take the time to understand the look you’re going for and, once you put the garment on, be able to immediately spot the issues you’ve described and then some.But where do you find a good tailor? “You can find tailors in a variety of places,” says Barron. “Some work from their own stand-alone storefronts, others from department stores, dry cleaners, or even their homes.”Many quality tailors are found in their own tailor shops. But, adds Barron, “Don’t discount the guy or gal at your local dry cleaner who can often handle basic jobs like hemming your pants or fixing a couple buttons on your shirt.”

A Three-Step Process For Finding A Good Tailor

Tailor Shop Basics - Online Recon

1. Do Some Online Recon:

“Use locally-focused review sites or apps like Yelp and FourSquare to find potential tailors,” says Barron. Read reviews, both good and bad, to get a sense of the tailor’s track record. When you do this look for reviews from men (a wedding dress alterations pro may get great reviews but not be very comfortable, or good at, working on men’s suits). And remember, unsatisfied people are more inclined to leave reviews, so take the comments with a grain of salt and look for recurring themes. If multiple people are criticizing a tailor’s specific shortcoming, beware. Conversely, if many people are heaping praise on the tailor for, say, their speed, then you can expect them to be pretty quick with your garments.

Tailor Shop Basics - Ask a Stylish Guy

2. Ask a Stylish Guy:

Barron suggests asking for a recommendation from a well-dressed friend. They may have a tailor shop they visit regularly, or perhaps they have heard good things about one nearby. It’s always worth asking, and going to a tailor who’s been recommended by a well-dressed man takes some of the risk out of the equation.

Tailor Shop Basics - Phone Interview

3. A Phone Interview:

You can learn a lot about a tailor from a quick phone call. Once you decide to try a tailor, give them a call and ask a question like “How much do you charge to shorten a suit jacket sleeve?” A tailor who knows his/her craft should respond by asking “How much do you need to shorten it?” That’s because a tailor can easily, and inexpensively, shorten a sleeve at the jacket’s cuff. A more drastic change in sleeve length (more than three quarters of an inch) will require removing the sleeve from the body and shortening it from the shoulder to avoid displacing cuff buttons. Removing the sleeve is a more costly procedure requiring a greater degree of skill and experience. Great tailors think about these nuances, so ask the tough questions before you bring anything in.

Bringing It All Together

“The toughest part of this whole process is to locate a tailor shop and make sure they do an exceptional job,” says Barron. But by following the steps above you’ll be well on your way to finding your go to tailor.

The more often you work with your tailor, the better he/she will understand your fit preferences. Arming yourself with an understanding of what they can do and terminology will make the relationship even easier.

When you open your closet to see a rack of expertly tailored clothing, your entire arsenal of clothing is available to you. That lets you combine any items you want, however you like, and makes getting dressed effortless.

Have you found a tailor you love? Spread the word, tell us why you like them in the comments below.

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19 thoughts on “Getting the Most Out of Your Tailor Shop”

  1. Orhan London Tailoring says:

    Thanks for posting the information about the tailors. Actually, i was really confuse to select a proper tailor but after reading this blog i got some idea to choose a proper tailor. keep Posting!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Of course, we know how important tailoring is for men of style.

  2. girl clothes says:

    Thanks for finally talking about > Tailor Shop Basics < Loved it!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Always happy to do our readers a solid.

  3. sander says:

    Just dropped of my shirts at two different (!) tailors. Couldnt decide: both got above average reviews. So, I figured I see wich one I like better by letting both do the same job (wich is taking in a casual button down)

    One of the two already earned extra kudo’s for being more funny and patient, so I think personal chemistry is important as well. But lets wait for the results.

    So I was wondering, are there any signs you can look out for when you pick up altered stuff for the first time??

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Here are a couple of things to consider, Sander:

      1. Generally a tailor will conduct a fitting of each garment to make sure that the changes were made correctly but if they don’t initiate this, you should ask for it.
      2. When working with a tailor for the first time it’s a good idea to take a close look at the stitching of the altered areas to make sure that it’s all clean and quality stitched.
      3. Make sure that the garment is devoid of any stains or rips as this is always a possibility. A good tailoring house will not allow for this to happen.
      4. Always ask if garments are pressed in house, garments (suits specifically) should always be pressed and cleaned when being returned to a customer.
      5. Make sure that your tailor offers a screw up guarantee. If the alterations were made incorrectly or the incorrect areas was altered or they just straight up lose your stuff, then they should accommodate a fix for the problem.

      Hit all of those notes and you’ve got yourself a keeper.

  4. James says:

    Which fabric is that on the header photo?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The jacket in the photo is made from the Blue Gray Birdseye, which can be made into a suit, an Unsuit, a blazer, or a pair of pants.

      Like that one, James? You’re not alone. It’s been one of the top performers from the current collection.

  5. Neal says:

    Great article. I loved the look of the jacket in the featured picture. Which suit color is that?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad we could provide some useful info to you, Neal.

      That’s the jacket from a Blue Gray Birdseye suit jacket and, to paraphrase Teri Hatcher, it’s real and it’s spectacular.

  6. Doug Fantauzzi says:

    You can try De Louice Custom Tailors. They are located at 4936 Wisconsin Ave NW, in DC. Not the cheapest but he does excellent custom work!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks for the recommendation. That’s good sartorial karma, Doug.

  7. Travis says:

    I just moved to the DC area.. anyone know of a good tailor?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’ve heard good things about Georgetown Valet. So consider that step two out of the three steps we recommended you take to find a tailor above.

      1. Bobby says:

        also check out http://www.techystailoring.com/.. I go here and he does a good job…

        3301 Mt. Vernon Avenue
        Alexandria VA. 22305

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Good looking out, Bobby.

  8. Matt Jochim says:

    Pinnas and Needles in London — btw Oxford and Piccadilly Circuses. Not cheap but they are specialists and tweaking fine suits and shirts.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nice, Matt. We’re willing to pay a little more for quality too.

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