We have all been there: The fit of that Off-the-Rack suit looked great in the store, but now you look like a garbage bin liner when you put it on at home. Perhaps Store mirrors are different than yours? Perhaps you had a sudden weight change in the last 48 hours? Perhaps just hanging it up makes wrinkles actually appear? Whatever the reason, don’t despair. You can still get it restyled especially for you and look even better than you did before forking over that $200.
A completely glove-like fit can’t be bought unless you go bespoke (made-to-measure). The reason for this is that ready-to-wear suits – even expensive ones – are designed to offer a reasonable fit across a range of different body shapes, sizes and silhouettes, and they all compromise as a result.
With your local tailor on speed dial, you can defeat that concession by making your new suit fit perfectly for you: A kind of made to measure-lite. This isn’t just hemming the pants to suit you, but a whole range of tucks and re-stitching that can make you look like a GQ cover, and not as if you wear things that simply don’t fit you.
A year ago, we offered some ideas on Getting Your Perfect Look , so here are some more ideas on how you can make your cheap January purchase looks like it was made for you. You can also update an old suit by asking for the same surgery to be performed on hem – and it IS surgery. Here are just some of the tasks that a proficient tailor will do for you:
Lengthen Or Shorten The Jacket Sleeves
In an ideal world, a suit’s sleeves should fall to the wrist, and show around a quarter-of-an-inch of shirt cuff beneath. But let’s face it – we’ve all got different arms! If you struggle to find jackets with sleeves that finish where they should, this is easily fixed. An tailor should be able to move a jacket’s cuff buttons and pick-up or let down the sleeves of your jacket by about an inch.
‘Chip’ The Jacket’s Shoulders
If all else fails, it is also possible to take the shoulders of a jacket in – an alteration that tailors call ‘chipping’ because it involves taking off the sleeves, cutting or chipping away the shoulder pads, and then sewing the whole thing back together. If you struggle to get a jacket’s shoulders to fit you snugly, this is definitely worth a go. Try this alteration is you are slight of frame.
Take In the Jacket’s Waist
This alternation, perhaps more than any other, can transform the look of a ready-to-wear suit: A suit is supposed to offer a masculine take on an hourglass figure; building up your shoulders and following the natural line of your waist. If you have big shoulders, or a hollow back, often this doesn’t happen, and extra cloth in the jacket’s waist can swallow you up. Avoid this by having the jacket taken in through the side-seams – it will fit the whole thing to your frame, and clean-up any bagginess. Most tailors can pin a jacket to you and get it fitting like a glove inside a week.
Rotate a Jacket Sleeve
Changing the ‘pitch’ of a jacket’s sleeve – the angle at which the sleeve is attached at the shoulder and the corresponding way it sits on your arm – isn’t so much a routine alteration as an impressive feat of engineering. The pitch you require generally depends on factors such as your posture, but of course off-the-peg suit retailers don’t know you personally, which is where this sartorial edit comes in. Of course, even the slightest change in pitch requires the sleeve to be removed entirely to be tilted, so reserve this one for a blazer or sports jacket you see yourself wearing for many years to come.
These are the most popular re-styling tips, but we haven’t even addressed Pants or shirts – all of which can be ‘reverse engineered’ to make them your, rather than the other way around. More on these ideas in a future post.