• Welcome to The Fedora Lounge!

How much can a suit easily be altered?

Discussion in 'Suits' started by Geesie, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. Geesie

    Geesie Practically Family

    I wear a 42L jacket and 30x33 trousers. Naturally, I cannot find anything of these dimensions in thrift stores or vintage stores.

    How far beyond suit measurements can simple alterations take the garments?
  2. Depends on how much you are willing to pay. Sizing down obviously gives the tailor the most to work with.
  3. Dr Doran

    Dr Doran My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I wear a 42L jacket as well. All 42 sleeves have had enough cloth inside to extend them to a 42L. You need to look up in the sleeves. On Ebay you can ask a seller how much cloth there is up in the sleeve. The "skirt" of the jacket is another story. I have never asked a tailor to extend that -- I've heard horror stories. If you are slender, which you must be if your waist is 30, then you should be able to fit in a lot of 40 jackets.

    As for trousers, if you don't need cuffs and there are cuffs and the pants are too short, then you can very easily flip down the cuffs and iron it down. But cuffs are very nice. It is possible to keep the cuffs and extend the leg of the pants if there is room up inside the cuff. Again, you can ask the seller on Ebay or look at the item yourself.

    The trouser-waist normally has some extra room that can easily be taken out by a tailor. Sometimes this is visible in a photo. Very, very often there is 1.5 or 2 or more inches of room extra in the waist. If your waist size is really 30, I don't think you will have too many problems. It's not an unusually fat size for vintage trousers.

    Good luck!
  4. This really depends on the suit. A competent tailor can let out a seam to the taping, and only needs about a quarter of an inch of extra material in a cuff to make the fold. I've also had a jacket's skirt lengthened before, by the better part of an inch. It went well in my case, but I can see how that can be a hairy operation.

    Really, you need to know how much fabric is leftover. As Doran says, ask if you can't measure for yourself. I'm about a 38L and can get most 36 jackets to fit around me, but I'm finding that I'm passing on more and more suits now because I can't make the sleeves or trousers long enough work. There just simply isn't enough fabric to do it.

    As an extreme case, the third vintage suit that I acquired was enlarged by about four inches around, the sleeves lengthened more than an inch and the skirt lowered by almost as much. Plenty of extra fabric and a very good tailor made that all come out just great. 'Cept now I need to have it brought down to about the size it was when I bought it!
  5. dakotanorth

    dakotanorth Practically Family

    Altering suits- the neck!

    Funny this should come up right now, because I bought a suit jacket and I believe either A. The neck is too tall or B. The shoulders were made for someone with sloped shoulders.
    I think this because there is a sag/fold at the base of my neck in the back- it's not the shoulders pulling either, I can feel they are fine.

    SO, has anyone had the shoulders or neck reshaped?
  6. Only thing I ever had done to shoulders is narrowing. My New York Korean tailor used to insist on it. I have fairly narrow shoulders, plus, I think it was the only way he could pay his rent. The job was $80+ even then - I'm sure it's more now.

    The narrowed shoulders looked fine but I lost the slight "pucker" at the sleevehead, which is no longer done even by most custom tailors.
  7. I've been a on the hunt myself, but the trousers keep giving me issues. What I'm finding is that the coat is usually in the ball park since I wear a 40R, but the trousers always seem too small. Usually I find a 28 or 29 inseam. I need at least a 31-32 ( I think). I've resigned to looking for larger items and hope my wife or a tailor can do the job. So far IF I find a suit that works, it way out of my budget or I get sniped at the last second the feebay.
  8. The puckered sleeve head survives today as the Neapolitan shoulder (spalla camiccia, or shirt shoulder - in Napoli you'd say spallagameech', real fast).
  9. zetwal

    zetwal I'll Lock Up

    Interesting link. Thanks -
  10. Geesie

    Geesie Practically Family

    How much can a trouser waist be taken in without the whole thing becoming absurd?
  11. Dr Doran

    Dr Doran My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I think about 3-4 inches but I don't know. Maybe someone who knows more than I do about this (and there are MANY such people here) should answer this.
  12. Interesting thread

    How about a 44 jacket down to 43? I'm a 43 now, and they're pretty hard to find, whereas there are a lot of 44's out there. But I just swim in a standard 44 suit. My problem is that while my shoulders have stayed the same my waist has crept over the last about 20 years.
  13. About trou waists: The deciding factor seems to be the pocket placement. You don't want your hip pockets too close together, nor do you want to have to reach behind you to get to your front pockets. Most pants seem to maxx out at about 3" one way or the other, it's true.

    About 44 to 43: It shouldn't be any big deal.
  14. the limits of alterations

    Thats a great idea for a sticky thread, the limits of alterations.

    I will throw in that Ive had good luck having sleeves shortened by tailoring at the shoulder. Its always nice to have the sleeve at the perfect length so you dont look like youre wearing your big brother's suit. And this was a lovely Mohair suit that I didnt want to pass up.
    Ive never bothered to try the reverse of having a sleeve lengthened.
  15. I have. I purchased a vintage suit that had one arm shorter than the other. I believe it was the left arm that was 3" or so shorter than the right.
    After consulting with my expert tailor (a.k.a my mother;) ) she guessed the extra material was folded into the sleeve (not cut off) and let it out.
    It worked out fine.
  16. rise

    Couldnt agree more. The pants can end up fitting, but the fit isnt always right.
    I believe a lot of modern mens pants are sized up by cutting the pattern so the front of the pants accommodate the gut. So theres not a lot of play between the rear pockets.

    I have on occasion gotten some newer Ralph Lauren pants a size or two too large, so that when tailored down, the rise would be higher than if I had just gone with a standard fit.
    It helped. But it wasnt ideal.
  17. seam ripper

    Feraud, I took a similar chance last summer. There was a nice `60s mohair evening jacket at Odds, which fit except for the sleeves. I used a seam ripper to cut the treads, and the sleeves unfolded to their proper length.
    One of the buttons needed to move down , but thats no big deal.
  18. reenactor tailoring

    Feraud, I noticed amongst the WWII reenactors some desperate tailoring to get their kits together. Namely one paratroop reenactor who had his tailor widen a small size wool dress jacket with panels scavenged from a matching pair of GI trousers.
    There was a very large fellow who did the same with a brit/canadian battledress. He was ecstatic over the results.
  19. .

    Mr. Bern, your last post is (unintentionally?) very funny! What a "visual"!

  20. Sponge and repeat.


Share This Page