How to find a tailor to do alterations
Want to know a celebrity secret? The reason they all look so good is because they get everything altered so it fits them perfectly (or sometimes too tight). It’s not limited to black tie outfits, it includes jeans, t-shirts and even shorts.
How many times have you refused to buy an outfit or felt uncomfortable wearing one just because the fit wasn’t quite right? The colour and fabric were perfect but there was one tiny thing that stopped you from buying it?
This is pretty common. Nello Bianco, owner of Christian Boutique, has been running the store and altering his clients’ clothes for 38 years. He explains that sometimes customers need a little convincing to get clothes altered. “I had a customer say, ‘no, no, I don’t like to touch them because I had a bad experience with another store. If it fits me I’ll buy.’ There’s nothing you can do.”
Other shoppers will buy something even if it doesn’t fit properly and then won’t wear it. This leads to either not having the right clothes for an occasion or having unworn clothing in your wardrobe which is a waste of space and money. Investing in alterations means clothes that fit and flatter but is a way of saving money – really!
Why do alterations?
Apart from looking perfect all the time like celebrities, doing alterations can save you money. Yes, you’re spending more money to get something tailored to you but once that’s done, you’ll have an item of clothing that fits you perfectly. That means you’ll wear it more often and spend less money searching for that elusive ‘perfect outfit.’
What can be altered?
The short answer is almost anything can be altered. We all know that hems can be taken down or up and waistbands can be taken in to reduce the dreaded gap. Other items can be altered including bras and jackets. Bianco has reworked an entire suit for one of his clients so she could attend her nephew’s bar mitzvah. That included shortening the skirt and adding panels to the jacket to fit his customer.
Bianco says that while alterations can be done to almost anything, it’s critical to know when an item can’t be altered. He says that if the required alterations means completely changing an outfit, it might be better to look for something entirely new.
Where to find a tailor?
Most stores will pay for basic alterations like hems and most drycleaners will have a seamstress that can take in a waist or adjust armholes. It gets a little harder to find a tailor for more complicated alterations. Bianco says that tailoring is becoming a lost art.
He says, “Some [tailors] are retiring or they work part-time. There’s not a new generation to take over that kind of work.” He laughs, “It looks easy but it’s work. You have to learn the technique, how to take it apart and put it back again. And it’s a lot of time involved and it doesn’t pay much.”
Bianco suggests talking to friends and always getting references. “How else are you going to find out? There are no listings and even if there are, how do you know if they’re good?
The best thing is if you find someone who can make make a garment from scratch, then they can do alterations because they know what to do.”
Alterations can range from $5 for a hem, $25 to take in the waist and $50- $100 to take in a dress, including adjusting the armholes and darts on the bust line.
If you’re considering alterations, remember to always ask for a reference, ask to see the tailor’s work and alway be involved in the work. Soon you’ll look just as perfect as the celebrities.