Ask A Tailor: Minor Fixes, Jacket Styles, and More

In the wide world of tailoring, there’s more to it than just taking in the occasional suit jacket, or removing a few buttons here or there. Master tailoring is an art, of sorts, where the slightest tuck, stitch, or hem can turn a man into a style legend.

In addition to helping you look your best, the right tailor can guide you with a wealth of important information, and knowing exactly what to ask your tailor can mean the difference between a good suit and a great one. So, we enlisted the help of one of our favorite tailors, Manny, a master of his craft. Manny’s got 40+ years of experience and is ready to be your new tailoring yoda.

 Q: What's the reasonable cost for minor fixes (i.e. hems, cuffs, holes and tears)?

A: There are several variables that come into play when it comes to quick fixes like the occasional tear or an emergency hem. First, it’s best to avoid combination shops that offer up one too many services under the same roof. If you have a neighborhood tailor who also dabbles in shoe repair, hatmaking, taxidermy, dry cleaning, deli meats, and more, it’s okay to be a little leery. Very rarely do shops that specialize in “a little of everything” provide the best quality. So it’s best to stick to established tailors and alteration shops for any small jobs you may have. Ultimately this is the type of guy you want to build a long-term working relationship with.

As far as proper pricing goes, some tailors charge by the job while others have hourly rates. For example, one tailor may charge $20/hr for any “general alterations”, which could include everything from hemming suit pants to adding buttons or fixing tears. Another tailor may have a set pricing list for those same general jobs, like $10 for a hem, or $25 to fix broken zippers or clasps. Ultimately, finding the most reasonable costs for these fixes depends on where you draw the intersection between price and quality. If you find more value in paying a skilled tailor $15/hr to a full audit of your favorite suit, then that’s what you should go for. Just remember it never hurts to pay a little extra for a higher quality of service, especially if it’s tweaking a new suit to make it fit its best.

Q: What is a jacket vent? Which style is best?

A: Just like your favorite style of beer or how you like your burger, it's mostly personal preference. On most suit jackets, you’re given the option between a center vent (a slit down the lower half of the jacket) or side vents (a slit on either side of the jacket, also extending down the lower half). The center vent is more traditional, while side vents tend to be a little more stylish and prevalent in both British and Italian suiting options. Determining which one is the right style for you depends on your personal tastes. Are you a little more conservative in your suiting choices? Go with the center vent. Alternatively, side vents tend to be a little more formal, but with a rakish flair to them, that will undoubtedly set you apart from many of the other suits in the room.

Q: What should I have tailored? Just suits? What about shirts? Jeans, even?

A: If you’ve been blessed with a body type that lends itself to being able to wear off-the-rack clothing with minimal tailoring (and a polite screw you, you lucky S.O.B), you shouldn’t have to worry about getting every piece of your clothing tailored. On the other hand, if you don’t happen to fit that mold, which is the case for a lot of us, your off-the-rack options become slim. Big and tall men should especially consider getting clothing outside of their suits tailored. This will create a more comfortable fit for everything from dress shirts to chinos and even jeans. The thing to remember, though, is that getting so many pieces of clothing customized can cost you money, so you’ll have to weigh your options to determine if tailoring outside of your suits is truly a viable option. But, ultimately something that fits you impeccably and boosts your confidence is tough to put a price on.

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