How to Find a Tailor on a Budget

Tailored Suit Athletic Build
PHOTO CREDIT: Tailor Made London | Tailored Suit

Whether you are a regular at the local tailors or a complete alterations novice, it is always vital to stay up-to-date with the changes in tailoring. This handy guide provides you with all the tips you need to get the most out this revered service on a budget.

Read more Men’s Style Guide features.

Anyone who has ever bought off-the-rack clothing from high street stores will be well aware that mass-produced garments are designed with generic body types in mind. This unfortunately tends to mean that clothes exist in two extremes: too tight or too loose. With companies looking to maximise sales, average body type measurements are used during the manufacturing process. As a consequence, many shoppers are often left short-changed in their search for form fitted clothes.

This problem is not helped by each brand having a different concept as to what constitutes, for example a medium shirt or a large blazer. As a result, many of us often spend an age trekking from store to store to find the best fits, more often than not, leaving us with ill-fitting clothes.

What is a Tailor?: What Do Tailors Do?

That is where tailors come in. These highly trained professionals are tasked with modifying your garments to ensure the correct fit is achieved. Tailored clothing not only adds finesse to any outfit but it can also boost morale and confidence. There is nothing quite like a bespoke or tailored suit when it comes to making a good first impression.

If you are keen to learn a bit more about the types of modifications and alterations that a tailor can provide, watch this video by an expert British Tailor that runs through the different options at your disposal.

Whilst tailored clothing may make you feel like a million dollars, its service shouldn’t set you back a full six digit figure. To help you, we have devised a simple guide to ensure that, whatever your budget, you are prepared the next time you need a few alterations made.

How to Find a Tailor Near You

Finding an ideal, best tailor or local tailors can often be a long and unforgiving task. Luckily there are a number of options you can take to make your search to find a tailor easier so you don’t need to ask, where are mens tailors near me?

Online

This is probably the easiest way of finding Tailors in your area. Use Yelp, as their reviews can be a good indication as to the quality of service on offer. Try to take a balanced approached towards the reviews however. It is after all more common that unhappy customers post their view than those who have had a pleasant experience.

Personal Recommendations

Ask your friends or work colleagues for advice. They know you better than anyone else and will give you unbiased advice. Take into account their own personal budgets of course. Some people are willing to spend more on tailoring than others.

Savile Row

If ever in doubt, try Savile Row; the street is famous for its bespoke suit-makers. You can also find a number of renowned tailoring shops that offer a wide range of alterations. Be aware that due to their reputation, general alterations are likely to be costlier than most other Tailors.

savile row
Everything You Need to Know About Savile Row
PHOTO CREDIT: Caominh

Department Stores

The majority of Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser retail stores offer an in-house tailoring service. This is a convenient choice, due to their accessibility and ease of use, especially If you are purchasing your clothing from these stores already.

A word of warning, these retailers are often inundated with orders which can sometimes lead to items being rushed. This option is only ideal if you are buying a suit in-store and for a one time shirt alteration.

Do Dry Cleaners Tailor Clothes?

If none of the other options work, you can always take your piece to the local dry cleaners. Most, if not all, dry cleaners will have a trained tailor on site. Getting your clothes tailored at the dry cleaners should be reserved for threads likely to be used once, such as fancy dress costumes or on simple alterations such as shortening the sleeves on cheap pieces of holiday wear.

Before You Go

Jargon

It is vital to be informed of all the tailoring jargon before you set off. Research common terms to have a better idea of the potential recommendations made by the Tailor. This knowledge will then come in handy when communicating with your Tailor about your exact needs and fashion wants.

Do not leave before you know what you want done. The worst thing you can do is enter the Tailors clueless and gullible to any suggestions. Do you want the sleeves shortened? Tightened?

tailoring tools
PHOTO CREDIT: Robert Old

Be Prepared

  • Call the tailor to ask whether they are open; smaller businesses may veer from the official opening times posted online.
  • Ask the Tailor if they provide the service you require. You may be surprised to hear, but not all Tailors alter blazers; some are specialised in other garments. If the Tailor does not sound overly enthused or is unsure about your requirements then continue your search.
  • Use the call as a way of introducing yourself. Try to gauge whether the tailor is the right one for you; tailors are very much like good hairdressers, good ones are hard to find but equally treasured when found, so make sure to build a good early relationship because you are likely to call upon their services again.

How Much do Alterations Cost?: Price and Time Frame

Most importantly, ask about price. Not only will asking for an estimated cost prevent red faces when the bill arrives, it will also mean you are less likely to be conned. Finally, request a time frame for the piece; small alterations may take a few days but more complicated alteration could take up to a month.

tailor at norton and sons savile row
Tailor at Norton & Sons, Savile Row
PHOTO CREDIT: Norton & Sons

Once at the Store

  • Ask to see some examples of the tailors work. By doing this, you become more familiar with the Tailors style. Some are known to be rather archaic when it comes to style, whereas others are more progressive in their methods.
  • Strike up a conversation and talk about your interests.
  • Trust your tailor with his recommendations but stay firm on what you want.
  • When asking for your jeans or trousers to be modified ensure you take the pair of shoes you see yourself wearing with those trousers to gain an idea of how they fall on the leg, once altered.
  • Recommend your tailor to your friends. Not only will they appreciate the business but it will fortify your relationship.
  • Tipping when on a budget can seem ludicrous, but its all about the long-term gain. Rounding off the £7 from a shirt alteration to £10, might seem costly now, but in the future the tailor will be more likely to offer discounts and extra adjustments free of charge.

How Much Does it Cost to Tailor Clothes?

Unsurprisingly, prices vary from tailor to tailor. Rough pricing estimates can be found online, however a lot will come down to the tailors reputation, the location of the store and type of alteration you desire. The most important aspect when tailoring on a budget is to strike a balance between those features.

When looking to Tailor a piece of clothing, apply the same rule you would do when booking a plane ticket; avoid peak times and reserve early. Asking for a suit to be altered two weeks before New Years will cost you more, as will modifying a suit during the wedding season.

If you’re aware that you may need some work done to your clothing for an important ceremony, it is best that you reserve the tailor well in advance. Apart from saving you a few extra pounds, it will guarantee that the garments receive the attention they deserve and are not rushed off the table to make way for new orders.

How Much to Tailor Pants?

Do you often struggle to find trousers that fit? You are not alone and there is a simple explanation for this. Trousers for suits are regularly left ‘unfinished’ by the manufacturers. Normally an extra 38”  is left on the leg to accommodate modifications. Because of this, it is highly likely that you will have had trousers altered in the past or at the very least, will one day have to do so.

Prices on these alterations vary a great deal depending on whether you are looking to hem, taper or recut your trousers. On average, pants alterations can set you back anywhere from £10 to £35.

mens tailored trouser lengths
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

How Much to Tailor a Shirt?

Expect to spend £15 to £25 on shirt alterations. If you are looking to shorten the sleeves, which happen to be lined, then be prepared to shell out a little more as the procedure is known to be rather complex and time-consuming.

In this regard, remember that the quality of the fabric and material will have an impact on the cost of service. When working with delicate materials such as silk and cashmere, Tailors may charge a steeper price due to the extra care and attention required.

mens smart shirts
SHOP THE LOOK: Shirts

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Suit Tailored?

Despite their unrivalled perfection, bespoke suits are off the table when tailoring on a budget. Luckily, modifying an off-the-rack suit so that it is made to measure, can garner similar results at a quarter of the price. When altering a three-piece suit, including blazer, shirt and trousers you are looking at a cost of £100 to £300.

It may seem expensive but this pales in comparison to bespoke suits that start at £2000 and can reach the dizzying heights of £50,000 depending on the fabric of the suit. If you are determined to own a bespoke suit then you could always try your hand at getting one produced abroad. Many Asian Pacific nations such as Vietnam and Thailand are known to offer identical services available in the UK at microscopic prices.

How Long Does it Take to Tailor a Suit?

This entirely depends on your tailor and the time frame you’ve given them till you need the item. So make sure you give it in advance allowing it be tailored in plenty of time allowing it to stay in great quality.

tailor suit men measuring
PHOTO CREDIT: vestoro

DIY Tailoring/ How to Tailor  

Luckily, unlike open heart surgery, tailoring is something that can be done at home. Although having a go can at times feel just as nerve raking. Whilst your anxiety is normal, you would be surprised at what possibilities are available to you when you invest in a small sewing kit and are brave enough to experiment.

Word of warning, if it is your first time modifying clothing do not pick the most expensive piece you own. Instead try, to start of with altering a simple white t-shirt as it is easy and relatively risk free. Once you gain a feel for alteration you can slowly progress to the more complicated modifications.

mens blue underwear with holes sewing machine
PHOTO CREDIT: Joost De Cock | YouTube | CC Attributions

How to Tailor Your Own Clothes

The best sources of information can be found online at expert tailoring blogs or on YouTube. Videos especially, can be handy as they give you a visual aid that you can follow along at home. Just make sure to watch the whole video first, before picking up the scissors.

When picking a video make sure that the instructions are clear and the source is trustworthy. Zack Plye is one such credible source. His immensely popular fashion blog, Up Your Fashion Game, contains a number of videos which help you through the tricky task of tailoring at home.

Finding A Tailor on a Budget

  • Places to Look: Online, personal recommendations, departments stores & dry cleaners.
  • Make sure you know what you’re talking about when it comes to your alterations otherwise you could end up with something you hate.
  • Clothing Alterations: Make sure the Tailor is keen on the alteration they’re doing, as some are better are specific jobs. For example a blazer alteration is time consuming and some Tailors are better at them then others.
  • Prices: These vary depending on the alterations needed. Have a browse around and do what’s best for your budget.
  • You can always make your own alterations with a handy sewing kit and some How to guides.

On that Note 

Tailoring can often be seen as a luxury and rightly so when taking into account some of the costs incurred. However there is no doubt that getting your clothes tailored takes your wardrobe and subsequent outfits up a level; whether you plan to find your dream tailor or instead opt to save a few extra pennies and venture forth into DIY tailoring.

Hopefully by following the tips in this guide you too can achieve a high level of style, at a fraction of the normal price, which will hopefully turn the idea of tailoring your clothes, from special treat into frequent activity.

SHOP TAILORING