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tailor alteration guide

Every piece has a history, and with the right adjustments, it can be tailored to look as though it was made just for you. From suits and trousers to dress shirts, this guide will show you how even the smallest alterations can transform your garments into perfectly fitted attire


jacket / coat

taking in the side seams

This common alteration improves the fit of a jacket by slimming the torso for a more tailored silhouette. It's ideal for adjusting the overall width and ensuring the garment fits snugly against the body.

jacket / coat

taking in the center back seam

Adjusting the center back seam instead of the side seams is particularly useful for refining the fit around the waist and improving the jacket's alignment with the wearer's natural back curve. This alteration is chosen over side seams when the jacket needs a slight adjustment for a better contour without altering the structure too much.

jacket / coat

taking out the sides and/or center seam

When tailoring a jacket to create more room, deciding whether to take out the side seams or the center back seam hinges on the areas that require additional space. Adjusting the side seams is ideal for enlarging the chest and waist areas, enhancing overall comfort. Conversely, letting out the center back seam specifically targets easing tightness across the back, particularly improving comfort while seated. In some cases, both alterations may be needed if the jacket is uniformly snug across all areas, ensuring a balanced expansion that maintains the jacket’s proportions while accommodating a broader torso.

jacket / coat

Shortening and Lengthening the Sleeves

Lengthening the sleeves is typically possible by about 2 to 3 cm (0.75 to 1.2 inches), depending on the seam allowance available at the cuff. For shortening, if the adjustment needed is more than 2 cm, it's advisable to make the alteration via the shoulder. This method maintains a proportional balance between the lowest buttonhole and the end of the sleeve, which is crucial for maintaining the garment's aesthetic integrity. Shortening from the shoulder involves detaching and repositioning the sleeve higher, which allows for significant length adjustments without affecting the placement of the cuffs and buttons. However, it is important to consider the fit around the bicep area to ensure that the alteration does not make the sleeve uncomfortably tight, preserving both appearance and comfort.

jacket / coat

Shortening and Lengthening the Jacket Length

Generally, the length of the jacket can be lengthened by about 1 to 2 cm (0.4 to 0.8 inches). This is generally limited due to fabric constraints. Typically, the length of the jacket can be shortened by about 4 to 5 cm (1.6 to 2 inches) maximum.

jacket / coat

Reshaping the neckline and collar

This alteration is necessary when there is gaping, which occurs if the neckline does not sit flush against the neck or the collar does not lay flat. Gaping often results from a mismatch between the jacket's cut and the wearer's body shape. Reshaping can involve adjusting the angle or tightness to eliminate any awkward puckering and ensure a clean, sharp finish.

jacket / coat

Square Back Neck

A square back neck alteration addresses excess fabric that bunches at the back of the neck. This is often required for individuals with more erect postures or those with a flatter upper back curve. Altering this area helps the jacket hang smoothly and uniformly, enhancing both comfort and appearance.

jacket / coat

Tapering the jacket sleeves

Narrows the sleeves for a more fitted look.


Waist adjustments

The waistband can usually be altered by taking in or letting out about 2 to 4 cm (0.8 to 1.6 inches).


Adjusting the seat and crotch

Both taking in and letting out are possible, typically up to 4 cm (1.6 inches) to improve comfort and fit.


Tapering the legs

If narrowing the trousers by more than 3 cm (1.2 inches), it should be done from the two side seams and the seat to maintain the shape of the trousers. Tapering just from the seat may cause a twist in the seams on the sides, affecting the overall look.


Adjusting the rise

Modifying the distance between the crotch and the waistband can significantly enhance both comfort and style. Whether increasing for more ease or reducing for a sleeker look, this tailored adjustment ensures your trousers sit perfectly at your waist, providing an impeccable fit throughout your day.


Hemming the length

The length of trousers can often be extended by up to 3 to 5 cm (1.2 to 2 inches) by letting out the hem.

shirt / knitwear

Adjusting sleeve length

Sleeves can typically be shortened to better fit the arm length.

shirt / knitwear

Taking in the sides

Provides a closer fit, especially if the shirt is too baggy in the waist or chest.

shirt / knitwear

Darts at the back

Adding darts can create a slimmer fit and better contour the shirt to the wearer's body.

shirt / knitwear

Shortening the shirt length

Useful if the shirt is worn untucked and needs to hit at a specific point on the body.

shirt / knitwear

Altering the cuffs

Adjusts the cuffs to accommodate preferences for tightness.