4 Simple Tips To Finding a Good Tailor

“I think every girl should have a tailor…we have this assumption that when you take something off the rack, it will fit you. I don’t care if you are like a supermodel size zero or a plus size girl, clothes are not meant for every single person…I think it is important..to be able to give clothes the little nips and tucks that make them feel perfect for you.” Kerry Washington, actress

(If you want to read the longer whole quote or her interview, click here.) 

Kerry Washington summed pretty well why you need a tailoress (as women who tailor are called): If you want clothes to fit right, you need to find a tailor to help you. Finding one is not difficult. You can probably find someone around the corner or at your dry cleaner to make minor alterations. Finding a tailoress that you’ll trust with your favorite dress or expensive designer blazer might be a little more challenging. 

Do you remember the last time you went looking for a hair stylist? Did you go to the one your BFF uses? Did you Google that person? Or did you go to several and check out their work to see which one understood what you and your hair needed? Believe it or not, trying to find a master tailoress is not unlike finding the ideal hair stylist.  

Like a good hair stylist, a tailoress is highly skilled.  She will be knowledgable of different body types and sizes and will have the ability to deconstruct and reassemble your garment to be the custom fit masterpiece that flatters you and your body. 

Why can’t I just use the dry cleaners to make alterations? 

You can. An alterations specialist is perfect for tasks like hemming a dress or skirt, shortening pants or adjusting your garment’s waistline. For a truly well-fitted garment, you’ll need a tailoress to properly refit and restyle the garment which may include adding cuffs, collar, or pockets. 

Here are some tips to help you find the right tailoress for you: 

#1 Ask Around

If you have well-dressed friends, ask if they use a tailor. If none of them don’t, don’t worry. You can visit a department store like Nordstrom’s, Neiman-Marcus, or Dillard’s or the shop you bought your garment and ask one of the sales associates for some referrals. And don’t be shy. If you see someone who looks marvelous, don’t be shy. Go up to her and tell her so. Then ask if she uses a tailoress and if she would mind sharing the one she uses. 

#2 Use a Search Engine, then use Google or Yelp Reviews 

After you make a list of tailors/tailoresses, look at the truly helpful reviews and ignore the general, non-specific remarks like these listed on Yelp. 

“Diana is absolutely brilliant at what she does.  She transformed my dress exactly the way I wanted it, with precision and ease.” 

“Very professional work. Had some major work done on a jacket. When i got it back it was perfect.” 

#3 Instead look for a review like this one. 

“Rafael was amazing–very kind and very diligent–he asked me how I wanted the dress to fit and offered suggestions. The dress was complicated, with an elaborate pleated one-shoulder bodice thing (sigh) which entails lots of work, and it was massive, so there was a lot of work to be done in that regard as well… The dress was ready right on time, fit perfectly…Rafael is a super diligent, personable, and skilled fabric magician!!” 

If the referrals you asked about have positive reviews as well, it looks like you found candiates for your shortlist! 

#4 Meet and Greet 

Tailors are like any other skilled trade, and they are human. Some are better than others. Years in the profession does not make a master tailor. Rather, someone who pays attention to detail and works on improving skill will be the one you want to find.  

Before visiting each of the tailors/tailoresses on your list, write down your questions. After you meet with each one, ask yourself which one seemed to be a match for you. Did he/she make the time to speak with you and listened to your concerns? Did he/she guidе уоu in asking better questions of the services offered? Have they shown you finished work and explain what was done? Were you able to look at the quality of stitching? How about symmetry – were sleeves or seams even? Did the finished garment look like a high-end piece? Did he/she explain typical turnaround times for different types of work? 

The Test – Part 1 

After picking 2 or 3, it’s time to give them a test! Bring in a garment and tell the tailor the type of changes you want made.  Seek their advice by asking for suggestions on alterations or refit ideas, so you can get a feel of that person’s experience and knowledge. Try not to tell the tailor what the garment needs. This test is to see the what value he/she brings to your clothing investment. 

The Test – Part 2 

If you’re comfortable at this point, it’s time to check out the work. Bring each of these tailors older dresses, shirts, jackets and skirts that don’t quite fit properly. We all have those beautiful clothes sitting in the back of the closet that we keep telling ourselves we’ll wear when we lose a few pounds. There is a cost for good tailor work, so make sure the clothing is something of value (financial or sentimental).  

When you receive the finished clothing, ask yourself if your expectations were met based on your Part 1 answers. Your dress, shirt, or overcoat should look like it was custom-made couture. 

The Results Are In 

Hopefully, you’ve a found a tailor or two whose work you admire. Now, use them! Like your hair stylist, you should build a strong relationship. Your tailor will better understand your sense of style and have a better idea of what you want. 

Yes, you want your clothes to fit. More importantly, you want your clothes to look good. So find your new BFF, Mr. Tailor or Ms. Tailoress, and look even better.

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