Do I Need a Tailor? How to Choose Your Go-to Guy for Alterations

Finding a good tailor is just as important, if not more important than finding a good barber. Everywhere you go, appearance is the first thing you’re judged upon, and like a bad haircut, ill-fitting clothes can crush your chances at making a great first impression.

When it comes to your formal wear, a tailor is absolutely necessary for every guy, especially when it comes to suits. Suits come in generic sizes, and the trousers are left extra-long under the assumption that they will be tailored before they’re worn.

But aside from your dress clothes, an experienced tailor can come in handy for garments like polos or casual oxfords, especially if you have a unique body type or work out often. Below we’ve listed a few tips for finding the right tailor, as well as some things to keep in mind when making the final decision.
Choosing a tailor
When looking for a tailor, you’ll want to compile a list of candidates before settling on a tailor. Unless the guy kicks the bucket or relocates, he’ll be one of your go-to guys for years to come, so you’ll want to make the right choice the first time. That said, it’s important to stick with the same tailor once you find one, because he’ll understand your body type and memorize your fit preferences after a couple alterations.

Begin by asking friends and co-workers who they go to for tailoring. If you can find a friend or co-worker who has a similar body type as you, that’s even better, since you’ll be able to see a solid sample of the tailor’s work. You’ll also be able to pick your friend’s brain about the tailor and find out how much he charges, and whether or not he’s personable and experienced.

Department stores typically have suit salesmen who double as tailors. The good news is that you can sometimes haggle free or discounted alterations into the price of a new suit. But keep in mind, alterations from a department store can cost a pretty penny.

You can also look on consumer review sites like Yelp for a tailor. In a worst case scenario, a simple Google search of tailors in your area will turn up a huge list of tailors, as well as some consumer reviews.

In addition to the quality of the tailor’s work, some other factors you’ll want to keep in mind when deciding on a tailor include:

  • Price. You generally get more for your money with a tailor, but you’ll want to compare a tailor’s prices with others in the area. Avoid downtown price gouging, unless the convenience is worth it.


  • Turnaround time. Typical turnaround time for a suit is about a week. Any longer than that, and dependability might become an issue down the line.


  • Experience says a lot about the quality of the tailor’s work, but the wizened tailor who has been in town for 40 years might not be too keen on the slim preferences of the modern man. Make sure that your tailor is capable of giving you that sleek, modern look, and don’t hesitate to take in some pictures from magazines to better explain what you’re looking for.


  • Friendliness. Is he the know-it-all who is telling you how you should look, or the smart tailor who is listening to your preferences and chiming in with friendly recommendations? Before visiting a tailor, we recommend reading over our Suit Style Primer to learn about how a suit should fit.


  • Breadth of work. Is he strictly a suit guy or can he alter other clothes besides dress clothes?

Yes, picking a tailor isn’t the easiest decision you’ll make, but it’s definitely worth the effort. 

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