When it comes to tailoring, a lot of us can feel like that's a lavish, luxe service that only people who make BANK can afford. And while we will admit that getting your clothes tailored can be a bit of a splurge sometimes, it's all worth it when you think of how your clothes look and feel once you've had a nip here or a tuck there.
So, why is that? Well to understand tailoring, first you've got to understand why you might need to get your clothes tailored in the first place. Nope, it's not rocket science, it's as simple as you think: Our bodies are different.
"Standard sizes universally fail most women on fit," said Meghan Litchfield, an former GoPro exec working to open up how women get perfectly fitting essentials in their wardrobe with RedThread. "It's the #1 reason for returns and for women walking out of stores empty-handed. Tailoring can alter a garment so that it fits your body perfectly, and to your liking (e.g. more fitted, particular hem length, etc.)."
Of course, it also comes down to understanding how brands and businesses make their clothes. "There are a ton of clothes I have to get taken in and can't just wear right off the rack," said Jamé Jackson, a style and beauty influencer based in NYC. "A lot of designers make batch clothing, so they will cut clothes for a size four the same way they would for a size twelve. The problem is, not every size needs the same type of support, and even if two people are both the same size, how their body wears something won't look the exact same. If I spend a few dollars, I can keep that skirt or that blouse a bit longer in my closet because now I like how I look in it."
But we know what you're thinking: Where do you get the money and the resources to get your clothes tailored? Where do you start? Well, here are three very important tips for the next time you're looking to get a bit of a wardrobe boost:
Understand the limitations of a tailor.
Meghan pointed out that a tailor can only do but so much, so be mindful when you get started. "A traditional tailor can only make an item smaller or shorter since he/or she is working with an already-finished garment," she said.
Jamé added to that point, saying that one of her favorite things to do is get extra fabric so her tailor then can work with it. "I love to thrift, so usually I will find an item that is two, three, sometimes four, sizes bigger than me. At first, it can feel overwhelming, but it's always better to have too much [fabric] to work with than not enough."
Also understand that depending on how much fabric they are working with or the type of material it is, all of that can play a role in how they work with you and ultimately how long it takes. "When you take your clothes to the tailor, be sure to wear flexible clothes that you can quickly throw things on and off of," added Jamé. "I will usually bring a tank top and shorts so that I can put the garment on top and show my tailor exactly where I need the alterations. Don't be afraid to vocalize your thoughts and what you need, it's your clothes!"
Search to find your golden tailor.
The cost of a tailored piece will differ and vary depending on a multitude of factors, but you should search around before settling on one person. "It took me about three or four referrals before I found a tailor in New York City that I really liked and appreciated," said Jamé.
"It's like finding the princess to fit your glass slipper. You have to like the results and live with them, so you might as well take your time."
While you search, take into account costs, but don't make it all about money. "I really think it's too bad that tailoring is something that's seen as something only a few people have access to. And there's some truth to it," said Meghan. "There's the extra cost, yes, but it also takes a lot of time to find a good tailor, get measured, bring in your clothes, etc. We're trying to change that. Because I really do believe that we should all expect our clothes to fit us, rather than the other way around."
Start off easy.
Get referrals from friends and family on places they like to go. Oftentimes, dry cleaners and some laundromats will outsource tailoring services. Also, a simple Google search of tailors near you is an easy way to start.
"If I spend only $3 on a top from the thrift store, I'll take it to a new tailor and ask them to make a specific alteration," said Jamé. "If they do a great job, cool, we can keep working together. If not, I've lost $3."
Meghan is working on bringing in a new way of tailoring through her site, RedThread. She adds, "I'm biased, of course, but RedThread is a super-simple way to get started. We built tailoring into our design process from the very beginning so that we can cut, sew, and deliver personally tailored clothes in under a week."
So no matter what, start easy and simple and work your way up.