What Alterations Can Be Made to a Suit?
Every gentleman knows that alterations are a reasonable and natural, step when purchasing a suit. The exact same 3 piece suit, in the exact same size, will look completely different depending on who wears it because no two bodies are identical. Even bespoke suits, which are tailored to your measurements, will eventually need some alterations, simply because suits remain constant over time, unlike e.g. your waistline.
The important question, therefore, is not whether a suit needs post-purchase alterations but which elements of a suit’s anatomy can be altered and to what extent. This will help you determine whether your new purchase just requires a bit of nipping and tucking or whether the size and fit is all wrong for you.
Easy suit alterations your tailor can help with
1. Jacket waist
This is a very common alteration. A tailor can take in or let out the jacket for a perfect fit around your chest and waist. Needless to say that we are referring to small changes that will accentuate your figure and not taking the jacket one size up or down.
Both the length and width of sleeves can, and in fact probably should, be adjusted to fit you perfectly. However, if the sleeve buttons are functioning, as in our Aristocracy London 3 piece suits, you may want to consult an experienced tailor who will alter the sleeve length from the armholes, leaving the button area pristine.
3. Trousers’ length
Most gentlemen will ask their tailor to adjust the length of their new trousers. However, you should never let your tailor have the final say on hemming because a trousers’ break, or where you want your trousers to sit in relation to your shoes, is a matter of personal preference. You can read more about different styles of breaks in our blog on the anatomy of trousers.
4. Trousers’ waist
Another easy alteration. Our Aristocracy London trousers have enough fabric allowance to let out but you can also take the waist in, as required. If you find trousers that sit well on your thighs but are a bit wide around the waist, fear not. It’s much easier to sort this problem out than the other way around. Tip: A good tailor will always check whether the seat also needs adjusting after working on the waistline.
Difficult suit alterations to steer clear of
1. Jacket & waistcoat length
Technically speaking, a suit jacket can be made shorter, but not longer. However, this is an alteration you probably don’t want to make because your suit will have been designed with specific proportions in mind, in terms of where the pockets, buttonholes etc. should sit in relation to the hem. It would take a very skilled tailor to not mess this up and it may not be worth the cost. The same applies to your waistcoat length.
2. Collar, shoulders, lapels
Is it theoretically doable? Well, a tailor may offer to try but any change in this area could throw the jacket’s architecture off-balance. A true connoisseur of sartorial traps will not attempt an alteration here but will rather ask himself whether he needs a different size or style altogether.
3. Leg width
We would advise you to stay well away from the shape of your trousers’ leg. Maybe taking the thighs in a notch or a little tapering is ok, provided your tailor is experienced enough to do it well, but ultimately leg shape is a structural element of the suit and interfering with it can end in tears.
This is the distance between the crotch seam and the waistband. Although a tailor could try to alter this for you, it’s an integral part of a suit’s architecture. Some brands go for low-rise, others go for high-rise and, all said and done, it’s how the suit is designed. Re-structuring it may cost in time and money without yielding the desired outcome.
We hope this brief outline of what a good tailor can help with has been useful but you may want to learn a bit more about the elements of a suit so do visit our blogs on the anatomy of jackets, as well as our guidelines on how a suit should fit. Once you have a clear understanding of how a new suit should look on you, you can browse our collection with more confidence and trust our suit size calculator to help you made the perfect choice. And always bear in mind that, should your suit not fit as you’d like it to, we offer free and streamlined returns.