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Tailoring secrets - Alterations - The Mitchelli - Modern Gentleman

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Tailoring secrets – Alterations

Although the pinnacle of men’s style, not everyone can afford to visit a gentleman’s bespoke tailor. So how do you make sure your clothes fit you perfectly? Buy from the high street and visit an alterations tailor to turn a garment that fits you well into a garment that looks like it was made for you, there’s a big difference.

Since most high street clothes are deliberately cut generously to accommodate the largest number of potential customers, most clothes will ‘just about fit you’. For the masses this is good enough, but for a modern gentleman whose clothes have to be ‘just right’. Using an alterations tailor you can get bespoke fit from high street clothes.

What clothes can be altered by a tailor?

If you can wear it, chances are there will be a tailor who can alter it. The notable exception is knitwear, but other than that you should feel confident in having it professionally altered. Trouser leg length and adding darts to your shirts should be a staple of every man concerned with how his clothes fit, but that’s not all. Denim jeans can look amazing tailored in both leg length and in the waist band. Suit jackets can also respond well to being taken in at the waist for a tailored look and overcoats can look amazing with some alterations.

Price guide for alterations

To give you an indication of what can be changed, and the approximate price for the alteration, I found this table of prices from the well respected Cad and the Dandy. The pricing below shows the cost to alter machine made and hand made suits, and reflects the extra work involved in altering hand made jackets. Most off-the-shelf garments are machine made.

Jackets Machine By Hand
Shorten / Lengthen Jacket Sleeves from Shoulders £45 £55
Shorten / Lengthen Sleeves from Cuff £30 £35
Shorten / Lengthen Jacket Length £40 £45
Narrow Shoulders £50 £60
Square Neck £35 £40
Take in Centre Seam £35 £40
Take in Side Seam £45 £50
Take in Side & Centre Seams £55 £60
Relining Jackets (Including Lining) £135 £150
Shorten Collar £75 £75
Deepen Armhole £35 £40
Trousers Machine By Hand
Shorten / Lengthen Trousers £25 £25
Shorten / Lengthen Trousers with Turn-Ups £27 £27
Taper Legs £35 £35
Take in or let out Waist £25 £25
Re-Fork £35 £35
Add Braces Buttons £25 £25
Reline Waistband £45 £45
Replace Zip £25 £25
Remove Belt Loops, make Side Straps £40 £40

The magic of invisible repairs

One little known, but amazing service offered by many Alterations Tailors is invisible repairs. For those of you who only bought one pair of trousers with your suit (not something I would ever recommend), have you ever thrown it away because the seat of the trousers have worn through? I’m embarrassed to say I have before I learned that many alterations tailors can fix that issue with a straight forward repair. Even more impressive is the ability to make holes, nicks and tears vanish. Quality clothes you might feel have been ruined by a minor lapse in concentration can almost certainly be saved by Alterations tailor making an invisible repair.

Next Steps

  • Look through your wardrobe for items that could be improved with a minor alteration. You will be surprised how many garments could be improved by the tailored look or need minor repairs.
  • Search through your local directories for a list of local alterations tailors. Most will be walk in stores, but there are a growing trend of kiosk style alteration tailors so you may be surprised how many there are local to you.
  • Start small! Don’t take your favorite suit jacket for major reconstructive surgery with a tailor you have never used. Take a pair of trousers to have the length you adjusted to ensure you are happy with the service and you can trust you prized clothes with them.



  • The Smutty Professor March 1, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    I’m my experience a good alterations tailor who is capable of doing something more complex than hemming trousers or adjusting a waistband is a hard thing to find.

    I live in one of the major cities in the north of England and have had experiences ranging from so-called ‘tailors’ telling me that they don’t know how to narrow the shoulders on a jacket, to those who have sewn braces buttons to the outside of a pair of suit trousers. As a consequence I have had to give up having clothes altered, as I would prefer to have a garment in which the fit is slightly off, than have an expensive jacket or pair of trousers ruined by someone masquerading as a tailor who is really only capable of letting out the waist on a pair of jeans.


    • The Mitchelli March 2, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Hello The Smutty Professor, great name! I agree that once you find a really good alterations tailor, they are worth their weight in gold. However, on reading your comment, I can’t help but feel you need a bit more support. The only tailor I would trust to alter the shoulders of a garment is the tailor who made it. Shoulders are the heart of a jacket and it’s probably the hardest alteration to do. This is of course if the construction would even allow them to be changed. Many ‘ready to wear’ garments are cheaply assembled, even if they are high end, expensive designer labels. My advice is get the right shoulders and have the sleeves adjusted, or the back/sides taken in or out. It’s a much simpler approach and you will get better clothes every time. I would rather buy cheaper and get a perfect fit, than expensive and having an off fit. As for the tailor who put button on the outside, move along and find a better tailor. There will be some great ones no matter where you are in the country. If you really can’t find one, be prepared to travel. Your style will thank you for it.

      p.s – Get in touch with your town/city and I will look in my black book for someone recommended and close.


      • The Smutty Professor March 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm

        Thanks for your advice.

        It would be great if you could recommend someone within a reasonable distance of Newcastle upon Tyne. There are a couple of businesses in the city centre that market themselves as ‘tailors’ but they are in fact merely retail outlets flogging appallingly boxy, machine-made, suits produced in a factory near Leeds.

        Looking slightly further afield, there’s Thomas Mahon and Steed over in Cumbria and Des Merrion down in Leeds, but I’m not aware that any of these gentlemen offer an alterations service for garments other than their own.

        Any suggestions you have would be gratefully received.


  • Mantor.Me June 2, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    My dad was a bespoke tailor at Sam Arkus in Berwick Street, he once took me to an invisible menders.

    When I told this story to my wife, she asked “how did you find it?”


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