I picked up a big order at my tailor on Saturday. Last time folks told me they really appreciated hearing about what an actual person actually spends on tailoring, so I thought I’d try it again. My tailor is a friendly Korean guy who also makes weird knit suits for matronly Korean ladies. His wife translates for him. They love my dog. It’s a good spot – he does good work at a reasonable price.
- Slimming two pairs of pants – $40. I bought two pairs of Bill’s Khakis M3 trousers from Sierra Trading Post. I was delighted with the quality of the pants, but not so delighted with their cut, despite the fact that these are Bill’s slimmest model. That said, they were cheap ($40, from about $130), and the quality was there, so I had the tailor take in the legs to match another (expensive, designer) pair that I liked better. He took them in from both sides, so it was $20 a pop.
- Taking one pair in at the waist – $15. They only had the color I liked in a slightly large size, so I just bit the bullet and paid for the waist reduction.
- Finishing both pairs – $20. So that makes $90 spent on two pairs of pants – more on alterations than I’d spent on the pants themselves. Even factoring in alterations, I still paid about 25% less than retail, and I got out of the whole thing exactly the pants I wanted.
- Taking in a vest – $20. I got a linen suit cheap from J. Crew at the beginning of fall last year, and the vest of the suit was sized S-M-L-XL. The large turned out to be too big for me, even with the cinch at the back cinched.
- Shortening some pants – $10. A 34" inseam is too long for me; a 32" inseam is too short. I had to get the too-long one and shorten.
- Taking up the sleeves of two jackets – $20. At 6’3", I wear a long coat, but my arms aren’t extraordinarily long relative to my body. So I usually need to shorten the sleeves of my coats by about half an inch. Sometimes I don’t bother, and just pretend that I don’t like to show cuff, but I figured as long as I was there, I should go whole-hog.
- Replacing buttons on a jacket. I bought a sportcoat from eBay recently that arrived with a broken button and no spare. I loved the jacket, so I bought some nice horn buttons (again, from eBay) to replace the coat’s buttons. I figured it was an easy job, so rather than taking it to my tailor (who’s no longer down the block from me), I took it to a “tailor” (really an alterationist/seamstress) in my neighborhood. She did such a bad job (the sleeve buttons weren’t even in a straight line) that I had the tailor re-do it. He charged me $6.
So that’s it. $131 spent, a lot accomplished. I’ve got some khakis that are exactly how I’d like them to be, that I expect will last me years. I’ve got two great summer suits that I can wear casually or more formally. When fall comes, I’ve got a great sportcoat I grabbed cheap from eBay – and a lesson about not trusting a seamstress to do a tailor’s work.
As far as I’m concerned, money spent at the tailor is good money. There is always plenty of good, but the tailor helps take your clothes from good to great.