Whether you're conducting a virtual boardroom meeting or leading an in-person session, how you present yourself matters. What you wear matters. When deciding between an "off the rack" suit or a tailored outfit made just for you, the latter is always the better pick - but it's essential to understand why.
Off the rack suits are any ensemble bought from a clothing store and wear "as-is." The problem is that off-rack clothes come in standard estimated styles, such as Small, Medium, or Large. Some variations exist, like Athletic and Tall sizes - yet few people fit perfectly into these categories.
A Medium suit may fit you perfectly around the waist, but you might find the sleeves are too long or the suit is too tight around the shoulders.
Tailoring solves these issues and ensures you get a suit ideally "suited" to your unique body measurements. After all, you deserve an outfit that you'll feel comfortable and confident in.
While the benefits of a custom suit are many, we know that some people stall at having that first suit tailored out of uncertainty. As with anything in life, it can be unnerving to visit a tailor for the first time, especially if you're not exactly sure what to ask for.
Here are some of the most common types of alterations for suits, as well as the correct terminology you can use when stepping into a tailor shop for the first time.
When buying a suit, purchase one size larger than your regular clothes. Cutting away fabric is significantly easier than adding on material to an outfit.
The sleeves of a suit should ideally lie between 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the shirt cuff. You want just a bit of that main shirt to show when wearing a suit jacket. The sleeves of that shirt should also lie just below the wrist. Test this by standing with your arms hanging down at your sides.
The term for shortening the sleeves of either a jacket suit or a dress shirt is to "bring up" or simply "shorten" a garment. When bringing your outfit to the tailor, if possible, wear a well-fitted dress shirt so your tailor can accurately measure where to hem.
Ill-fitting pants are often the number one complaint related to off-the-rack suits. An individual's leg and waist size are highly personalized based on genetic and levels of fitness. Finding that "perfect fit" right in-store is a rare accomplishment.
To shorten or lengthen pant legs, the correct terminology is to have them hemmed. While exact length is a personal choice, the consensus is to have the bottom of the pant just barely rest on the shoe.
Tailors use the term "break" to refer to that small fold of pant fabric that rests upon the footwear. So when going to your local tailor and looking for this, you should request for the pants to "have the hem adjusted for a slight break at shoe's top."
If you don't like how loose your pants are at the waist or want a tighter leg cut, request to have your pants "tapered." Tapering refers to the narrowing of pant legs - also sometimes referred to as having the fabric "taken in."
However, it isn't easy to loosen pant legs (which, again, is why we recommend you go a size larger when purchasing any off-the-rack suit). Tailors can make the waist and crotch area a bit roomier as well as parts around the upper thigh. Most pants will already come with a little extra hemmed-in fabric in this area.
The phrase to ask for here is to have your tailor "let out the waist." Note that generally, professionals will only be able to let out pants a half-size (and in some cases one full size).
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