Buying a pair of pants does not always come with a perfect fit that calls for no alterations. In fact, the majority of gents, especially those stickler for fit and detail, turn to a tailor to alter jeans or pants. Today, and for all of you that seek ways to stand out from the average man with perfectly-fitting outfits, we have prepared a guide with the most common trouser alterations a tailor can do for you. From issues that any decent tailor can take care of pretty easily to the most challenging ones that you’d better have an expert professional take the reigns, here is all you need to know about how to have your pants cut specifically for you. Don’t worry. Ultimately, you will learn to identify the styles that fit you best right off the bat!
List of Easy Fixes (up to $30)
1. Inseam (Shorten or Lengthen)
It is very easy to fix trousers that are either too long or too short. Plus, it is an alteration that won’t cost you more than $10-$20. There are also some brands, whose trousers come with unfinished hems so that you can decide the optimal pant length per your likings. Most of the times, you can just tell them what your preferred break is and their in-store tailor will do the rest for you.
Speaking of pant length, if you don’t have the remaining fabric cut and the tailor just tucks it under the edge of the hem, you can follow any trend and show off your socks like many trendy gents do nowadays or go for a more generous break. No matter what you decide, your tailor can always let your trousers down or shorten the inseam for you.
2. Waist Too Small or Too Big
If you feel like you are suffocating inside your pants (they are super tight around the middle) or that the waist is too big and the pants are falling off of you, a tailor can take the waist in or out pronto and give your trousers a more comfortable fit.
Note: When you do alterations to the waistband, you will most likely need changes to the parts covering your rear end (aka seat of the pants). For example, if you had to take the waist in, there will be excess fabric on the seat of the trousers that will need to be removed (let the seat in), and vice versa, of course.
3. Crotch Too Roomy or Tight
If the crotch of your trousers makes you feel uncomfortable because it is either not roomy enough or too roomy, work with your tailor. A good tailor will be able to find a medium in which you feel good in your pants.
Note: If you also find the part around your upper thighs a bit too roomy for your likings, ask your tailor to trim the excess fabric out and take in the sides of the pants. He should be able to do this with relative ease.
4. Add Suspenders
Wearing suspenders is a popular trend for the last few years and a great way to make a (chic) statement with your stylistic choices. Plus, suspenders help you look leaner as they create the illusion of an elongated torso. Now, you can opt for clip-on suspenders for a more casual look (worn with jeans, of course) or be a “perfect gentleman” and have your tailor add suspender buttons. Don’t worry. They won’t be seen from the outside of your pants since they will be sewn on the inside of the waistband. It is a super quick and easy job, especially for the experienced professional. However, if your tailor lacks that experience, you can bring your suspenders along when you visit him so he can place the buttons the right way.
5. Taper the Pant Leg
Without giving yourself a legging-like or skinny-jean-like look, you can taper your pants and look slimmer with a skinnier fit at around the calves that goes skinnier down your ankles. As long as there is enough material to work with, you tailor will manage to do the alteration and be happy with the result. In any other case, the work will look bizarre and probably disappoint you.
Tip: Besides these typical, easy fixes, you can also utilize your tailor to repair stuff, such as the old zippers, hook, and eye of your pants replaced when they break down.
Tougher Trouser Alterations (Around $50)
These include alterations that are more difficult than the types of alterations mentioned above but definitely feasible. This means that they don’t require ultimate expertise and lots of money to complete.
1. Line up the Creases of the Pants
Ideally, the crease of your trousers should visually divide the knee vertically. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t line up all that well with the centre of the leg creating a sloppy effect. In this case, the tailor can help line creases properly.
2. Alter the Waistband to Create New Belt Loops
Not an everyday task in a tailor’s routine but certainly doable provided there is enough material to work with. If you are in need of new belt loops, then you might want to consider the option of having suspender buttons instead. This is a less costly alteration; plus, it will complete your look if you decide to wear suspenders the best possible way.
More Challenging Alterations (>$100)
Some alterations are very demanding and will probably cost you a lot. However, if you do decide to go on with them (i.e. expensive fabric, an item with sentimental value, etc.) you definitely need to find a true professional and an experienced tailor that specializes in these kinds of fixes. That way, you can be sure the result will reward you.
1. Waistband too High – It requires a LOT of work. You can lower the front waistband and keep the back high, which is fairly easier, or lower both sides. It is an alteration where the tailor will have to open up of the waistband and the pockets, unpick the belt loops, and potentially put an extension in the band and/or unpick each stitch of the band if they can’t stitch it on with a chain stitch, among others.
2. Remove Pleats – Ideal option to revive an old suit with pleated pants that you want to convert to flat front trousers. The tailor is called to rip out the seams along the waistband and will need to go through 2-3 layers of liner to achieve that. They will also have to rip out the seams below the pocket along the side of the leg, cut along the front of the pocket, wrap the excess fabric (that of the pleats) around the pocket edge and many more.
3. Reduce Pants to More than One Size – If you have lost a lot of weight and you find 2 of you fitting in your old pants, it’s best to purchase a new pair of trousers rather than ask the tailor to re-cut the entire pants. However, if it is important to you that you have that kind of alteration done to your pants, an expert tailor will know how to tear the pants apart and put them back together again for you so that he/she provides the desired result.
Tips to Choose the Most Competent Tailor for your Alterations
Tailoring pants can easily turn from a quick fix into a disaster if you trust the wrong hands. So, it is imperative you do your research before asking for a tailor’s help to do even minor alterations to your trousers. Search for credentials and, of course, feedback and high review ratings in your city that justify the choice of the particular tailor. Also, consider those that advertise as knowledgeable in menswear tailoring. There is no reason to go to a tailor known to make exceptional wedding dress alterations (only) when you need your pants’ waistband changed! For the same reason, avoid the dry cleaner and department store tailor if the alterations you need are more demanding than having a simple pant hem done. Finally, ask to see a piece of their work and start with an easy alteration (i.e. pants that need the waist taken in) to check out the waters before handing over a piece of value!