THE BLOG

Take It to a Tailor

06/18/2013 11:23 am ET | Updated Aug 18, 2013

At some point in our quest to fill our closets with wearable, fashionable, dare I say trendy clothes, we have all encountered a piece (or two or ten) that doesn't quite fit right.  It's an Yves Saint Laurent blazer you bought at a sample sale three years ago, and it's big in the arms. It's the jeans that fit your bum like a glove, but not all bums come with long perfect legs.  It's an ill-fitting suit, a boxy jacket or too-tight trouser that says so many things about a person's self image, none of them positive.

Time to bring life back into every piece of clothing you own, and revamp your closet without buying anything new.  The biggest favor you will do for yourself this season is not to fall for the summer sales.  Bring back class, sophistication, and a minimalist approach to dressing by wearing what's in your closet and making sure it fits correctly.  How? 

Find an excellent tailor.

In the mash-up that is fashion and retail, clothing that fits properly has taken a back seat to clothing that is new, eye-catching and "designer."  I know women who cuff their jacket sleeves because they're too long and I see men buying off-the-rack at Brooks Brother's annual sale without having anything altered.  You can imagine the buyer's remorse upon returning home to find that yes, the dressing room mirror was actually unflattering AND indeed, realistic.

The key to looking impeccable is not what you wear, but how.  Along with personal style, you must never ignore fit. A well-tailored piece accentuates your positive attributes and hides the not-so-positive ones, changing your entire silhouette. 

An excellent tailor in New York City is not unheard of, but you must sift through the not-so-excellent ones if the endeavor is to be worthwhile.  Not only are you looking for expertise and experience, but the personal relationship you have with each other makes a difference as well.  It's important to be comfortable and honest with your tailor about your body and how your clothing should fit.  

"Often, when people go to the tailor they suck in their gut, stand at their straightest and contort their body into super human shapes for the tightest fit," says celebrity stylist and style ambassador for Spiegel Derek Warburton. "Unfortunately, we live in the real world and have to breath, sit and move around!" 

The modern woman comes in many shapes and sizes, and even global brands like Spiegel have a hard time accommodating everyone.  A tailor is the answer for anyone who feels trapped inside a certain style because they believe it's what looks best on them.  Find a tailor and find your wardrobe freedom with clothes that fit your body. 

Now, some important questions to ask your prospective tailor:

How long have you been a tailor?  
A simple question.  Experience is highly regarded in the tailoring business.

Do you have samples of your work?
If you are going on recommendations from a friend, ask to see which pieces of theirs have been altered to get a sense of their tailor's work.

What is an approximate delivery time? Give them an example of a piece that you want to have altered.
Understand that alterations can take time.

What are your rates? 
Again, focus on garments you will actually be tailoring to be realistic about your budget.

In terms of my body type, what should I be conscious of when purchasing items?
Are your arms short? Do you have a boxy frame? A good tailor will understand almost immediately how apparel should fit you.

"Always make sure a new item fits in the shoulder and thigh," says Warburton.  "Shoulders and arm holes can be very difficult for a non pro to alter.  Thighs can be slimmed, but unless the tailor is a seasoned professional it can be tough."

Finding a trusted tailor and actually using him or her on a seasonal basis may seem excessive, but in reality it is saving you hundreds of dollars spent on clothes that don't always fit and that you never use.  What we wear and how it fits our bodies is invaluable to the image we have of ourselves and the one that we present to the world.  

A great fitting piece supplies instant confidence in your overall look.  Forget your therapist, hire a tailor and watch your wardrobe and your style transform.  I guarantee a tailor is the least expensive form of personal and professional improvement you can find these days.  People will ask what you've changed about your appearance; it's up to you whether to divulge your secret weapon.