Tailor's Note: January 2021 - Repair, Rewear
These notes are based off conversations with customers and are designed to help make the process of working with a tailor a little more familiar.
Disclaimer: These ideas are based solely on my opinion, please feel free to ignore, flout and disobey at every opportunity.
I don't know if it is a result of being stuck inside with not much else to do, but it seems many of us have been going through our wardrobes and finally pulling out the items which need a little love. You know the ones I mean, the jacket missing a button, the coat with the torn lining, those trousers which never fit quite right, all the pieces which you've been meaning to do something about for ages.
Now is the time.
Amongst its other sins, the rise of fast fashion made people forget about alterations. 60 years ago, many folk inherited clothes from relatives and neighbours, necessitating alterations. But as the high street developed, the concept seemed to drift from the collective conscious.
I’m thrilled to see people remembering the merit of a good clothes doctor. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to give a garment a new lease of life, to get it out of the wardrobe and into circulation.
I thought it might be worth going over a few of the items which have come across my board this month in case any of the problems sound familiar or it inspires a trip to the back of the wardrobe.
Whether it is a sleeve or a trouser leg, shortening garments is a straightforward alteration which can make the world of difference. Hardly any of us are a sample size and most manufacturers make clothes with their largest/tallest/longest clients in mind because it’s much easier to make something smaller than bigger.
One customer came in with an overcoat which he thought was altogether too big for him. He had ideas of shortening and changing all sorts of things to make it look right. But as soon as the sleeves were pinned to the right length, everything else fell into place; anything which was a little oversized now felt deliberately so: a style choice rather than an accident.
Don’t underestimate what a difference half an inch can make to the overall aesthetic of a garment.
I’m thrilled to see how popular this has been this winter. It can take years to get an overcoat to feel like a second skin so I’ve never understood why some people choose to replace one once the lining has gone. It is like getting rid of a favourite pair of shoes once the soles have gone. Get them re-soled people! And get your coats relined. A jazzy new lining and a good press can make an old favourite feel brand new. And it is so much more sustainable (and much cheaper) than buying a new one.
3. Altering second-hand clothing
Thrifting has seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years but one of the barriers can be a lack of sizing. How frustrating to find a vintage Savile Row jacket only to discover it is 3 sizes too big. This is where I come in. Although I might not be able to make it fit perfectly, (there are a few areas which can’t easily be changed), I can usually get pretty close. This month saw a heavenly pair of heavy cavalry twill trousers from eBay which needed 4” off the waist. The cloth was absolutely gorgeous, you just don’t get that sort of quality in Ready-to-Wear anymore. A gem like that is too good to pass up just because the waist is a bit too big.