Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

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ThankYouJack
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Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by ThankYouJack » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:14 pm

I just bought a suit from Jos. A Banks and was surprised the alterations came to about $75. I realize having a good fitted suit is very important but was higher than I expected and wondered if going to a local tailer would be better. What's been your experience in terms of quality and cost from the local tailors to the large retail chains?

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:20 pm

Call your local tailor and ask his cost. He will know what's needed for your suit as it's standard issue. I've done both and found no difference in result or cost.

I found that my local tailor also was very good with information. He told me which suits are good for easily tailoring and which were not. And it had nothing to do with price.
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annielouise
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by annielouise » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:24 pm

Don't know about suits, but I paid $60 a few years back to a local tailor to alter a $50 Nordstrom Rack dress! $75 doesn't sound too bad, except that not that long ago tailoring came free with the suit from those chain stores.

ResearchMed
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:27 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:14 pm
I just bought a suit from Jos. A Banks and was surprised the alterations came to about $75. I realize having a good fitted suit is very important but was higher than I expected and wondered if going to a local tailer would be better. What's been your experience in terms of quality and cost from the local tailors to the large retail chains?
It's impossible to know if $75 for alterations is outrageously high or a cheap bargain without knowing what was done.
Were only the trouser legs shortened?
Or the sleeves, too? (Or lengthened?)
Or did the shoulders need to be opened up and changed somewhat?
Did side seams on the jacket need to be taken in, or let out?
Did the waist need to be altered, or the seat?
Etc.

I don't know about the tailors at Jos. A Banks, but a good tailor can make a huge difference in how any suit fits.

RM
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by ThankYouJack » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:14 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:27 pm
ThankYouJack wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:14 pm
I just bought a suit from Jos. A Banks and was surprised the alterations came to about $75. I realize having a good fitted suit is very important but was higher than I expected and wondered if going to a local tailer would be better. What's been your experience in terms of quality and cost from the local tailors to the large retail chains?
It's impossible to know if $75 for alterations is outrageously high or a cheap bargain without knowing what was done.
Were only the trouser legs shortened?
Or the sleeves, too? (Or lengthened?)
Or did the shoulders need to be opened up and changed somewhat?
Did side seams on the jacket need to be taken in, or let out?
Did the waist need to be altered, or the seat?
Etc.

I don't know about the tailors at Jos. A Banks, but a good tailor can make a huge difference in how any suit fits.

RM
Didn't seem like anything major - legs shortened, waist increased 1/2", and I think one or two changes to jacket. It's probably a typical price and I'm assuming they'll do a good job, just figured I'd post here for next time.

themesrob
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by themesrob » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:57 pm

I have seldom had good luck using a store tailor (Jos A Bank, Men's Wearhouse, J Crew). I think it's worth consulting Yelp and finding a local tailor with a good reputation -- you'll almost certainly get better results, and more often than not you'll save money, unless the store is offering the tailoring for free as they sometimes do with basic stuff.
Last edited by themesrob on Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

VaR
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by VaR » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:16 pm

themesrob wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:57 pm
I have seldom had good luck using a store tailor (Jos A Bank, Men's Wearhouse, J Crew). I think it's worse [than] consulting Yelp and finding a local tailor with a good reputation -- you'll almost certainly get better results, and more often than not you'll save money, unless the store is offering the tailoring for free as they sometimes do with basic stuff.
I think you missed a "than" in your statement above in bold.

I agree that if you can find a local tailor, they are the better solution for most cases outside of getting a custom tailored suit or (obviously) a bespoke one.

An additional plus is that your local tailor will be able to keep the suit fitting well over time despite changes in temperature, humidity, and waistline.

I also like @Jack FFR1846's comment about asking your tailor about which off-the-rack suits are more easily tailored.

themesrob
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by themesrob » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:36 pm

VaR wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:16 pm

I think you missed a "than" in your statement above in bold.

I agree that if you can find a local tailor, they are the better solution for most cases outside of getting a custom tailored suit or (obviously) a bespoke one.

An additional plus is that your local tailor will be able to keep the suit fitting well over time despite changes in temperature, humidity, and waistline.

I also like @Jack FFR1846's comment about asking your tailor about which off-the-rack suits are more easily tailored.
ha, good catch -- I meant "worth" consulting yelp (edited to reflect). I find that reviewers who take time to write reviews of businesses like tailors and barbershops generally provide solid guidance

VaR
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by VaR » Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:46 pm

themesrob wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:36 pm
ha, good catch -- I meant "worth" consulting yelp (edited to reflect). I find that reviewers who take time to write reviews of businesses like tailors and barbershops generally provide solid guidance
Oh! That's even better! :)

Yeah, I found my local tailor on Yelp. She reminds me of my grandmother. This is a good thing. Oh, and she's much better at tailoring!

The yelp reviews were spot on.

I think you're right in your assessment that there are differences between yelp reviews of different business types. I found the tailor reviews much more credible than, say, the ones of plumbers or air conditioning companies. And I don't even want to talk about the complexity of analyzing the restaurant reviews.

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lthenderson
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by lthenderson » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:11 am

Just got a suit back from my local tailor and paid $36 for alterations to the pants length and arm length. The caveat is that it took about five weeks to get the work done because she is so busy. $75 doesn't sound out of line for a chain store alteration and assuming you get it back in a reasonable amount of time.

ResearchMed
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:18 am

Ah... I had forgotten:

In the future, you might try a good dry cleaner.
Some have tailors that stop by, for mending clients' clothing or doing alterations.

DH has found that it is faster and less expensive to take new trousers there to be shortened, than the upscale store where he buys them (on sale, < half price, when there is something nice leftover on the sale rack :wink: ).
And he likes the work they do.

I'm not sure he would have more complicated alterations, especially shoulders, done there, however.

RM
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mak1277
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by mak1277 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:20 am

For me, the bigger question than money is time. I have found that the time it takes for tailoring at Jos A Banks and Brooks Brothers is 2x or 3x longer than it takes for a local tailor to do the same work. Regardless of price difference (within reason) that's the main driver of my decision making.

golfCaddy
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by golfCaddy » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:03 pm

I would imagine any tailor could perform simple alterations like adjusting the sleeve length and adding non-working buttons, finishing the pants, and adjusting the waist by an inch. I've never had more complex alterations done. At most department stores, basic alterations would be free.

Nearly A Moose
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by Nearly A Moose » Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:21 pm

I live in DC, and $75 is on the lower end of normal for me tailoring a suit that didn't require really crazy stuff. I'm usually in the $75-125 range per suit. I view it simply as part of the cost of getting the suit. I've use Joseph a bank tailors in the past, and the workmanship was fine, but it really depends on the eye of the person doing the markuo of the suit (they get tailored off-site). But I now use"my guy" and wouldn't go back in a heartbeat. But the key is finding a tailor who understands your style. I'd go to a standalone tailor rather than the retailer (Nordstrom is the exception - I sometimes use them for basic stuff.).
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

SDLinguist
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by SDLinguist » Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:11 am

golfCaddy wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:03 pm
I would imagine any tailor could perform simple alterations like adjusting the sleeve length and adding non-working buttons, finishing the pants, and adjusting the waist by an inch. I've never had more complex alterations done. At most department stores, basic alterations would be free.
You would be surprised. My mother in law is a tailor at Men's Warehouse and Joseph A. Bank. (My first job was also at a Joseph A Bank as a stock person). Most stores don't actually have a tailor onsite anymore and have sales people mark the suits and have those sent to tailoring centers. My MIL manages the tailors in one of those centers. One of the reasons it can take so long is because they need to send the suit 3 states over.

They are also having really hard times finding competent tailors and sales people have no clue how to accurately mark for alterations. Most of the work is therefore poorly marked up alterations executed by subpar tailors. There is a real difference between having a tailor with an advanced degree in material sciences and who worked for a decade in NY fashion houses or one who did a real apprenticeship in europe compared to a tailor who picked it up at home from their mother who did small alterations. Can you guess which ones are more likely to work at a chain?

I have learned a lot from her in the last 10 years about how to look at alterations and general fit and most of the work out there is terrible. But oh boy does it feel good to slip into a really well tailored outfit, but that isn't what you get at the chains. They will do the basic work of getting the suit into a wearable state. They can't really do more in the time they have. They time how long something should take one of their average tailors: hem pant legs 15 minutes for example. The MIL would do 100-120 hours of "work" in a 40 hour work week before she started managing.

But even a normal tailoring job which will almost always include more than just hem and sleeves just takes at least 2-3 fittings and revisions which just never happen so most alterations are half done. I am just lucky that I have gotten thousands of dollars of free tailoring in the last decade. I would never get any work done at one of the chain stores unless I knew the tailor and had had a chance to look at their work beforehand knowing what I know now.

ResearchMed
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:53 am

SDLinguist wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:11 am
golfCaddy wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:03 pm
I would imagine any tailor could perform simple alterations like adjusting the sleeve length and adding non-working buttons, finishing the pants, and adjusting the waist by an inch. I've never had more complex alterations done. At most department stores, basic alterations would be free.
You would be surprised. My mother in law is a tailor at Men's Warehouse and Joseph A. Bank. (My first job was also at a Joseph A Bank as a stock person). Most stores don't actually have a tailor onsite anymore and have sales people mark the suits and have those sent to tailoring centers. My MIL manages the tailors in one of those centers. One of the reasons it can take so long is because they need to send the suit 3 states over.

They are also having really hard times finding competent tailors and sales people have no clue how to accurately mark for alterations. Most of the work is therefore poorly marked up alterations executed by subpar tailors. There is a real difference between having a tailor with an advanced degree in material sciences and who worked for a decade in NY fashion houses or one who did a real apprenticeship in europe compared to a tailor who picked it up at home from their mother who did small alterations. Can you guess which ones are more likely to work at a chain?

I have learned a lot from her in the last 10 years about how to look at alterations and general fit and most of the work out there is terrible. But oh boy does it feel good to slip into a really well tailored outfit, but that isn't what you get at the chains. They will do the basic work of getting the suit into a wearable state. They can't really do more in the time they have. They time how long something should take one of their average tailors: hem pant legs 15 minutes for example. The MIL would do 100-120 hours of "work" in a 40 hour work week before she started managing.

But even a normal tailoring job which will almost always include more than just hem and sleeves just takes at least 2-3 fittings and revisions which just never happen so most alterations are half done. I am just lucky that I have gotten thousands of dollars of free tailoring in the last decade. I would never get any work done at one of the chain stores unless I knew the tailor and had had a chance to look at their work beforehand knowing what I know now.
The better/major department stores in this area have in-house tailoring, for both men and women.
The person who does the pinning and marking is also the one who does the actual stitching, be it final or temporary basting for another fitting.

There are some free-standing stores/"boutiques" of just one label, and those have the sales rep doing the marking up, and they send it out.
Even if that is "free", I'll still take the garment "as is", to one of the department stores with a specific seamstress I like. DH does the same for a particular favorite department store tailor.

RM
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golfCaddy
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Re: Suit Alterations - chain vs local tailor

Post by golfCaddy » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:42 am

SDLinguist wrote:
Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:11 am
golfCaddy wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:03 pm
I would imagine any tailor could perform simple alterations like adjusting the sleeve length and adding non-working buttons, finishing the pants, and adjusting the waist by an inch. I've never had more complex alterations done. At most department stores, basic alterations would be free.
You would be surprised. My mother in law is a tailor at Men's Warehouse and Joseph A. Bank. (My first job was also at a Joseph A Bank as a stock person). Most stores don't actually have a tailor onsite anymore and have sales people mark the suits and have those sent to tailoring centers. My MIL manages the tailors in one of those centers. One of the reasons it can take so long is because they need to send the suit 3 states over.
I was thinking of places, a tier above Men's Warehouse or JAB.
...
But even a normal tailoring job which will almost always include more than just hem and sleeves just takes at least 2-3 fittings and revisions which just never happen so most alterations are half done. I am just lucky that I have gotten thousands of dollars of free tailoring in the last decade. I would never get any work done at one of the chain stores unless I knew the tailor and had had a chance to look at their work beforehand knowing what I know now.
Like I said, I never had any advanced alterations done: hem the pants, adjust the sleeve length, adjust the waist an inch, and that's it. I look for a suit close to a good fit OTR, not something which requires major surgery.

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