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Design & Style

A Guide to Tailoring: 5 Tips for Getting Clothes Tailored

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 21, 2020 • 3 min read

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Tan France Teaches Style for Everyone

The key to looking refined and sophisticated on a budget is choosing the right clothing and then having it tailored to get the perfect fit.



Tan France Teaches Style for EveryoneTan France Teaches Style for Everyone

Queer Eye cohost Tan France breaks down the principles of great style, from building a capsule wardrobe to looking pulled together every day.

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What Is Tailoring?

Tailoring is the art of adjusting clothes to fit a particular person's unique body shape. Tailors can adjust anything from the sleeve length and shoulder seams of a suit jacket to the inseam of a pair of denim jeans to the drape of a wedding dress.

3 Ways Tailoring Can Improve Your Wardrobe

Stylists know that the secret to finding great-fitting clothes is actually to have clothes tailored to your own measurements. Tailoring can upgrade your wardrobe in three key ways.

  1. Tailoring can make clothes look high-end. You can buy something that's relatively inexpensive and have it tailored to fit your body perfectly. It doesn't matter how much a suit cost you if it doesn't fit right.
  2. Tailoring complements your unique body type. Ready-to-wear clothes are designed for a fit model (a model who tries on clothes for a designer), but a tailor can alter them for your body shape and lifestyle needs. Perhaps your clothes are a bit too long or slightly baggy; a tailor can help you find the perfect fit. For example, if you have a wheelchair, you can crop your jackets so they hit just above the wheel.
  3. Tailors can repair damaged favorites. Did the zipper break on the gorgeous vintage sheath dress you found at a thrift store? A good tailor can fix that. Though they can’t always work miracles, tailors can save clothing you love that is in danger of becoming unwearable.
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5 Useful Tips for Taking Clothes to the Tailor

If you're going to the tailor for the first time, there are a few things you need to know.

  1. Give your tailor time. The time it takes to tailor an item will depend on the complexity of the task and how busy your tailor is. Give yourself plenty of time so that you can avoid a last-minute tailoring emergency. Communicate clearly with your tailor so that you know exactly when to expect your item back.
  2. Respect your tailor’s limits. If you’ve found a reliable tailor for basic clothing alterations (like hemming dress pants), that doesn’t necessarily mean that person will be able to fix a complicated beading issue on a couture gown or create a bespoke suit. Ask your tailor if they feel comfortable with your project, and if not, go to a specialist. Fabrics that might require special treatment include silk, fur, and stretch fabric. Expect an additional cost for those items.
  3. Ask about the cost of alterations upfront. Most tailors don’t list pricing for their tailoring services because the cost can vary depending on the complexity of the project. Ask for a cost estimate before you go in for a fitting.
  4. Start small. If you're looking for a new tailor, start with minor alterations. Bring your new tailor a pair of pants in need of a simple hem or a blazer with jacket sleeves that aren't the right length. This is a good way to start your relationship and see if you actually like their work before bringing in more complicated pieces.
  5. Learn how to handle basic DIY repairs. You don't need a sewing machine to make simple repairs to your own clothing. Hem tape is a great temporary solution for when you need to deal with excess fabric ASAP. And if you don't know how to replace a popped button on a dress shirt, it's time to buy a needle and some thread. Knowing a few small repair tricks can help a lot when you don't have time to get to the tailor.


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Want to Learn More About Unleashing Your Inner Fashionista?

Get a MasterClass All-Access Pass and let Tan France be your very own style spirit guide. Queer Eye’s fashion guru spills everything he knows about building a capsule collection, finding a signature look, understanding proportions, and more (including why it’s important to wear underwear to bed)—all in a soothing British accent, no less.