Finding a tailor to suit your needs

Finding a tailor to suit your needs

Q. Hello. I read your article regarding pleated trousers. I have an extensive wardrobe with many suits, sport coats, and slacks by Brioni, Oxxford, etc. Most were made-to-measure: Super 120’s wool fabric, hand stitching, 2 button, double-vented jackets with peak lapels, and functioning button holes. All with pleated trousers, both in single- and double-pleats. The upside is the fit is still fine, but the downside is the trouser style makes me a bit self-conscious . . . feeling that I’m wearing dated clothing.

Six years ago I semi-retired and moved to a small town.  I’m now doing some part-time consulting work and have begun traveling again. Unfortunately, the store where I made the purchases in my former city has closed. And now I don’t have access to a tailor that has the talent to make such alterations. Can you recommend a tailor who does this type of work that I might be able to ship to?

A.    Yes, I think I can help. I’ll end this answer with a recommendation as well as what to look for if you stay local. I should point out that if a man has to have a clothing problem, yours is a rather nice one to have. The only thing better than finding wonderful suits at bargain prices in a gently-used clothing store, is finding them free in your own closet. It is certainly wise to update such high quality clothes, clothes that you like so well and that you already own. It is an even better decision given that your suits have many extra fine points of tailoring that add to your pleasure in wearing them.

There certainly is a healthy cost to having significant alterations made — and removing trouser pleats is far from as simple as adjusting length, or even the seat or the waist. However, these days, Oxxford or Brioni made-to-measure suits begin at around $5,000 and go on up (they could actually sell for as much as $17,000). Having your suits brought up to date by paying about $100 to remove the trousers’ pleats is a totally logical investment.

Even so, before you work with a tailor locally or a suggested one from afar, you still should keep a few recommendations in mind.

The very first one is to begin with only one suit. Once you have determined that you like the tailor’s work and that it suits you, then you can proceed to trust more suits to his skills.

I appreciate the extra difficulty you are having finding a tailor when the store where you originally made your purchases is no longer in business. Other stores feel no obligation to be helpful; this is why it is always good to find an excellent independent tailor.

Not every tailor is qualified to go beyond simple alterations. Ideally, for removing pleats what you want is a “custom tailor,” who not only repairs and alters, but who also makes suits from scratch. He probably learned his skills as a long-time apprentice; his garments are custom fitted for the wearer. Unfortunately, this person is not as easy to find as it once was.

When working with a tailor, especially one not nearby, measurements are crucial. Interestingly, accurate measuring is not an exact science. When I spoke with the custom tailor I know and recommend below, he said he has a preferred solution when the man is not there to be measured in person. To be sure the fit will be perfect, he requests that, along with the garment to be altered, the customer sends another pair from his closet (with plain fronts) that fits exactly as desired. Then he can match his work to that preference.

For any complicated tailoring need, the first concern is that it is truly doable. As my regular readers know, the one alteration I do not generally advise making is to the shoulders of a jacket (usually a mistake). While, just about every other area can be altered by a skilled tailor, including removing the pleats from trousers and turning them into plain-fronts, you will be better able to judge the success after you see the first pair results.

The tailor I mentioned above is Tony Orsino Custom Tailoring (914-834-0373) I can also recommend D’Agostino Custom Tailors (914-834-0630) You might even send a pair to each of them to compare. Once you have one pair updated to your liking, you can start sending out more and have the excitement of weekly “new” suits at a fraction of the price of shopping truly new.




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