Why Every Man Needs A Good Tailor (And What They Can Do For You)

Good fit is one of the major differences between looking great and looking lost in your clothes. It’ll highlight your best features, which can make you appear taller, broader in the shoulders and slimmer at the waist. It can also make your clothes more comfortable to wear. Ultimately, a good fit breeds confidence. But with off-the-peg garments available in only a handful of standard sizes, finding pieces that fit like a glove immediately is almost impossible.

This is where your local tailor comes in. You might think of them as the person you go to when you need something repaired, or as someone who only deals in suits and shirts. But by adopting this mindset, you’re doing yourself and your wardrobe a disservice.

There’s so much more a tailor can help with than simply fixing a hole in your jeans or taking up the legs on your favourite suit pants. They’re your most valuable resource in the quest for the perfect fit, and they can tinker away with more or less any garment (within reason!) to make it just right for you.

So, what do you need to know before you go? In this handy guide, we’ll take a look at some of the most common questions first-timers have before visiting a tailor, hopefully making your first time as useful as possible. From going fully bespoke to understanding limitations, here’s what you need to know.

What Can A Tailor Help With?

A tailor can be a fantastic ally when it comes to getting your style dialled in and achieving the perfect fit across your whole wardrobe. Find a good one, and they can help to do things such as shortening and lengthening sleeves and legs, tapering pants, reducing waists, tightening up torsos and generally streamlining silhouettes.

They can even create bespoke clothing from scratch if you’re prepared to spend the money.

When Can’t A Tailor Help?

As brilliant as a good tailor can be, they aren’t miracle workers. There are some things they simply can’t do, no matter how good they are.

For starters, items that are too small to begin with can pose a problem for even the most skilled tailors. Some garments have a bit of ‘seam allowance’, which allows the proportions to be increased a little, but if there’s not enough fabric to work with then not much can be done.

Garments with lots of detailing can be tricky for tailors to work with too. Maybe you have a suit jacket with fixed buttons at the cuff. It could potentially be difficult for a tailor to shorten the sleeve from the bottom without interfering with them.

Material is an important consideration too. Most tailors will be happy to work on a wool suit or a pair of denim jeans, but knitwear, for example, often requires specialist knowledge and should be taken to someone with a proven track record in dealing with that type of fabric.

How Much Should Alterations Cost?

Alterations can vary wildly in price. If you’re buying cheap stuff off the peg and having it adjusted to fit, the cost of the alterations could well outweigh the original price of the garment being worked on.

Sometimes it might not be worth it to have a garment altered heavily. For example, if you have an Oxford shirt that needs the sleeves taken up, the hem shortened and the body taken in, it could be more cost-effective to just have a shirt made from scratch.

What Types Of Garments Can Tailors Work On?

A good tailor can work on anything from a T-shirt to a full three-piece suit. Again the things that will cause issues have more to do with materials and construction.

If you’re unsure whether or not a tailor will be able to help you with a particular piece of clothing, your best bet is to give them a call and enquire. Or, better yet, take the garment in and let them have a look at it in the flesh. This way they’ll be able to tell you for sure either way.

Is Fit Really That Important?

Honestly, we’d say so. It’s arguably more important than material or whose name is on the label too. Fit is make or break. You can spend thousands on a suit hand-sewn using the finest silk-cashmere blend from one of the leading Italian designers on the earth, but if it’s hanging off your shoulders and stacking awkwardly around your shoes, what’s the point?

This is why a good tailor is such a useful person for a style-savvy individual to know.

Is Bespoke Tailoring Worth It?

It can be. If you can afford it, and you appreciate the importance of a perfect fit, then why not go for it? However, for most people, bespoke clothing is an unrealistic luxury.

Thankfully, you can get pretty close to the real deal by buying high-quality secondhand clothing and enlisting a tailor to make some minor adjustments for you. As far as we’re concerned, this is the most cost-effective way to dress like a baller.

How To Find A Good Tailor

Gieves & Hawkes

Do your research. The internet and social media are treasure troves of information when it comes to finding skilled workers and reputable businesses, so check the review sites and get on your local groups for recommendations. If you live in America, this tailoring directory by PutThisOn should be your go-to.

If you have fashion-literate friends, ask them too. Any decent-sized city should have several options to cater for all manner of materials and garments, and the best way to find out what they’re like is to give them a go. Why not take something small in for a quick alteration or repair? You’ll be able to gauge pretty quickly whether they’re worth giving return business to or not.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.