How I Spent $131 At The Tailor.

April 6, 2010

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.

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