Archive for the ‘cloth repair alteration’ Category

Consider this your ultimate guide from the experts.

Woman getting measured for alterations at the tailor

Is it worth altering the item?Getty ImagesJune 22, 2018, 2:47 AM AEST / Source: TODAYBy Chrissy Callahan

Most women fall into one of two categories: Those who have their tailor on speed dial, and those who’ve never ventured into the world of clothing alterations.

If you fall in the latter group, you might think alterations are just for the rich and famous or that they’re not practical for your wardrobe/lifestyle/budget. Then again, you might be wrong.

The truth is, there are many misconceptions about tailoring and many women are intimidated by the whole process. That’s why TODAY Style consulted the experts to help debunk some of the most common myths about clothing alterations, and break down some of the hidden secrets about tailoring that only the pros know.

You can thank us later!

Tailor calendar
The most-sought-after tailors can have an impressive waitlist. Shutterstock

1. Don’t expect results overnight

Getting a last-minute appointment at a popular hair salon can sometimes take an act of God, and some of the hottest tailors book up just as quickly. The good news? If a tailor is really busy, it’s a pretty good sign that they know their stuff and have a loyal clientele. But whether you’re going to the most-sought-after tailor in town or a newbie you read about online, don’t expect a miracle overnight.

“Turnaround time really depends on the item. If it’s something simple, a one-week turnaround is possible; two weeks is more typical. For something more complex, we require more time,” said Ludmila Tomashevskay, owner of Ludmila Couture, whose clients have included Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria and Christina Aguilera.

Rush service may be available in emergencies, but in general, if you need an item for a certain event you should always bring it in with time to spare and expect that it might take a few weeks to get altered.

“If you know in advance, call ahead. Depending on the season, formalwear may need two weeks or more if additional fittings are necessary,” said Robin Chalfin, owner of Toolkit Tailoring Studio.

Basic clothing alterations, like hems, can take anywhere from 3-5 days to a week, depending on how busy your tailor is. “It comes down to what the tailor has on their plate, how many projects they have in front of yours,” said Leesa Evans, Hollywood costume designer and private stylist for celebrities like Amy Schumer. “I have tailors I go to for classic alterations (like hems or taking in a waist) that can be done quickly, and others that I bring more couture or elaborate items to because of their experience. For those more complex alterations, I expect a longer wait time.”

Cutting fabrics at the tailor
Altering a silk blouse takes a lot more skill than taking in a cotton dress.Getty Images

2. All fabrics aren’t created equal

Do a chambray top and a silk blouse take the same amount of time and money to alter? Not quite. Certain fabrics are naturally more delicate, and some materials will always take a bit more time (and cash) to alter.

“Silks, for instance, feel great on the body and move well, but they’re extremely temperamental when it comes to alterations. Best to have someone that hand stitches versus machine tailoring for silks,” celebrity stylist Alison Brooks said.

Chiffon, organza and some jersey fabrics can also be a bit challenging to alter, while cotton and linen are some of the easiest fabrics to tackle.

“Non-stretch woven fabrics are the easiest for tailors because of their stability. Stretch fabrics are typically harder to handle when making adjustments,” said Adrienne M. Kronovet, founder and CEO of the stylish workwear line Ameliora. “That being said, good tailors can handle (almost) any fabric. When looking at garments, the fabric composition is essential. High-quality fabrics perform better and last longer than inferior constructions.”

At the end of the day, if you have a tricky fabric you want altered, it’s all about doing your research and finding the right tailor.

“Some establishments who advertise tailoring services may be well equipped to handle hems and repairs, but may be unable to alter the bodice in an expensive gown. Some tailors are unable to work with leather, others can. Again, do your research,” Chalfin said.

Clothes in a closet
Avoid buying clothing that are too large! It’s difficult to alter anything that is too far from your actual size.Shutterstock

3. Please, buy the right size

Most of us fluctuate in weight — a few pounds here, a few pounds there — so having a few kickass wardrobe staples that fit you whether you’re up or down five pounds is always a good idea. Purchasing clothing you know is way too big or too small for you, on the other hand, most definitely isn’t.

We’ve all been there: You find the perfect dress on clearance but it’s two or three sizes too large. You swear you’ll get it tailored one day, so you jump at the opportunity and stuff it in the back of your closet. Then when it comes time to tailor the garment, you wonder if it might be more trouble than it’s worth.

“Please don’t buy clothes that are too small or too big, even if they’re on sale! It’s not recommended or sometimes even possible to alter anything more than one size — either down or up,” Tomashevskay said.

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Pants, in particular, are usually difficult to take in multiple sizes, since the proportions can change so drastically. On the other hand, a coat or blazer that just needs to be taken in a bit (say, in the shoulders), is much more doable.

“Considering the work that goes into tailoring an item that is multiple sizes too big, it’s probably best to buy new clothes,” Evans said.

That doesn’t mean you should abandon all hope of getting your favorite oversized piece altered, though. According to Tomashevskay, tailors do try to accommodate client requests (within reason) so it’s worth getting a second opinion if you have a piece you’re really hoping to alter.

To help you avoid this scenario in the first place, seek out quality materials that have a bit of give to them, and will see you through minor weight fluctuations. “With the advances in fabric construction, stretch is widely available and a must when selecting your key pieces. This helps diminish issues with weight fluctuation while providing an extra level of comfort,” Kronovet said.

Woman getting fitted at the tailor
Many tailors don’t list their prices. Getty Images

4. No, tailors aren’t scamming you

If you’ve ever secretly wondered whether you were getting scammed at the tailor, you’re not alone. Many tailors don’t list their prices on their website or in store, so it’s not surprising that many women worry that tailoring fees are pretty arbitrary.

How can you make sure you’re getting a fair price for your alterations? It’s actually pretty simple: Just ask!

“You should always ask before you get fitted. Call ahead to see if they have a price per item or charge hourly,” Chalfin said. “Just like a car mechanic may not have a standard cost sheet because all cars are different, tailors need to think the same way.”

Most tailors will be able to estimate the cost of basic alterations, but they still might need to see the items in person to get a more accurate estimate. “It is more common for a typical men’s tailor to provide a cost sheet since the alterations are usually similar across the board. Prices will vary in different locations and cities,” Chalfin said.

At the end of the day, tailors aren’t trying to pull the wool over your eyes; they’re just trying to offer the most fair price — for themselves, and for you. “Tailoring is an art form; tailors are not out to scam their clients,” Brooks said. “Work is done by hand, even if they machine sew it. Tailors usually charge by how many hours or time it took to alter.”

Basic clothing alterations — like pants hemming or sleeves hemming — typically have set prices, but some alterations (like dress hemming) can vary in price based on the fabric, cut, layers and other factors, according to Tomashevskay. Certain materials like silk, for instance, might be a bit pricier to alter.

Woman looking in her closet
Clothing alterations can totally transform your wardrobe!Getty Images stock

5. Tailoring is worth it …

If the price of tailoring gives you major sticker shock, you might be questioning whether it’s actually worth the investment. But as it turns out, a quality tailoring job can totally change the way you see yourself!

“When your clothes fit properly, you look better and, more importantly, feel better and more confident. Tailors add tremendous value to your wardrobe by keeping your clothes well-fitting and comfortable,” Kronovet said.

Think about it: How many items in your closet actually make you feel amazing when you wear them? So many women’s closets are filled with less-than-flattering garments that simply don’t do their fabulous figures justice, and altering an item can help breathe new life into it.

“Small tweaks in pants, jackets and even blouses make such a difference,” Chalfin said. “You should be wearing the clothing; the clothing should not be wearing you. A good fit can make you look and feel 10 pounds thinner.”

In some cases, tailoring your clothes can even make them look more expensive than they really are. “A properly fitted garment makes all the difference in the world. If you buy an H&M piece the fit is usually off, and minor alterations will make the dress or skirt look as if it is a couture piece,”Brooks said.

Of course, it’s easy to say how awesome tailoring is, but at the end of the day, your lifestyle, wardrobe and career will all play a role in determining whether alterations are right for you.

“If you invest money into wardrobe pieces that are classic and made well, then yes, absolutely alter your wardrobe. If you are putting your best foot forward at work, then yes, alter your wardrobe,” Chalfin said. “On the other hand, if you purchase more trendy, less expensive clothing, it may not be worth it. You will be paying more for the alterations than the garment is worth.”

Closet filled with clothes
Be selective about the items you choose to alter. Shutterstock

6. … but don’t alter everything you own

Any woman who’s ever been bitten by the tailoring bug can tell you how easy it is to rack up a hefty bill in no time. But just because tailoring is pricey doesn’t mean it’s out of reach! You just have to be selective about the pieces you get altered.

“The best items to tailor are versatile pieces that elevate any outfit. For instance, a well-fitting jacket can transform multiple looks,” Kronovet said.

Classic staples — like a fabulous shift dress or the perfect pair of jeans — are always worth altering, because you’ll wear them to death and feel fabulous while doing so. Trendy, cheaper items, however, aren’t typically worth the price of altering.

Woman using sewing machine
Think before you try to DIY your clothing alterations.Getty Images

7. Use DIY alteration tricks sparingly

Any woman who knows how to thread a needle might be tempted to go DIY with all her tailoring needs. But should you really attempt to do your own alterations?

“If a button comes off a shirt, we should all have a pre-threaded needle in our bag of tricks and hopefully the skill to sew the button back on. Temporary fixes, like hem tape, are useful if you’re really in a squeeze and want to wear something tonight,” Evans said. “But eventually, hem tape will cause damage to fabric, so this is only a temporary fix.”

There are a few clothing alterations you can more easily attempt yourself, like adding cups to a strapless dress, Chalfin said. Just buy some cups at your local fabric store, and tack them in with a few stitches. And if your bra straps are always showing, you can pick up a pack of small ribbons with snaps that be be safety pinned into the shoulder seams of your garments. Double-stick tape pieces can also be used to temporarily repair a hem, close an unwanted blouse gap or protect against any cleavage mishaps.

The bottom line? Use DIY tricks sparingly, because they’re not always the best long-term option. “DIYs are good in a pinch, but, with something semipermanent (like fabric glue, for instance) you risk damaging the garment,” Kronovet said.

Find Tailor Clothing Alterations

There’s nothing so frustrating as having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. Maybe you’ve lost a few pounds, and pants that once fit you like a glove now fit more like a saggy diaper. Or maybe you have a whole stack of shirts that you bought because they were such great bargains, but every time you try them on you remember that the sleeves are too long or they gape open between the buttons. Perhaps you even have a few garments lurking in your closet that were the height of fashion when you bought them, but now they make you look like you’re stuck in the past.

This situation isn’t as hopeless as it sounds. With the help of a good tailor, you can turn all these near misses into perfect fits. Those too-big pants can be taken in, the shirt sleeves can be shortened, and even those oversized jackets can be updated to a slimmer, modern silhouette.Make money investing with Motley Fool, whose stock picks have returned an average of 472%Sign up for Motley Fool Stock Advisor by July 31, 2020 to get access to the next best buys.

Of course, all this doesn’t come free of charge. Yes, alterations cost money, but usually far less than it would cost to replace the clothes completely. Not every garment is worth altering, but for pricey items – or anything that you really love and can’t bear to lose – alterations can be a great investment.

Benefits of Clothing Alterations

Getting clothes altered is a bit more work than buying new ones off the rack. First you have to find a reliable tailor. Then, for each garment being altered, you have to make two trips to the shop – one to drop off the clothes, and one to pick them up – and try them on each time.

However, alterations can be worth the extra effort. There are several reasons why having your old clothes altered is often a better bet than buying new:

  • The Perfect Fit. The clothes you buy off the rack are made to fit a generic body, with measurements that fall close to the average. However, real bodies aren’t one-size-fits-all. Each person’s measurements are slightly different, so when you buy off the rack, the best you can usually hope for is a fit that’s “good enough.” But by having your off-the-rack purchases altered, you can make them fit like they were made for you – and for a fraction of the cost of real custom tailoring.
  • Shifting Size. Not only is your body different from everyone else’s, it doesn’t always stay the same from one year to the next. So if you’ve lost 10 pounds in the past year, the pants that fit you fine last winter are likely to look a bit baggy this winter. You could just give them away, or keep them in the closet in case you gain the weight back – but with just a little adjustment, you can keep on wearing them and save yourself the trouble of buying new ones.
  • Changing Styles. Fashions change from year to year, and clothes that still have plenty of life left in them sometimes end up stuck in the back of the closet just because they look dated. However, bringing them up to date is sometimes as simple as raising a hemline or removing a pair of oversized shoulder pads. Even just replacing the buttons with a more modern style can give a garment a fresh new look.
  • Keeping Yourself Decent. Minor alterations can keep your clothes from slipping, sliding, and gaping in ways that expose a bit more than you’d like. For instance, busty ladies can add tiny snaps between the front buttons on a shirt to keep it neatly closed at all times. Women with narrow shoulders can keep their blouses from slipping down over them by adding small loops on the insides of the shoulders to snap over their bra straps and hold the blouse in place.
  • Save Old Favorites. Clothes that wear out don’t always have to go in the rag bag. Sometimes it’s possible to extend their life by replacing a lining or turning a worn collar. But even when that’s impossible, a skilled tailor can sometimes keep your old favorites alive by making an exact copy of the garment. This is a pricey service, but for a garment you truly love and can’t replace, it can be worth it.
  • Take Advantage of Deals. Sometimes, you find a truly exquisite bargain on a sale rack or in a thrift shop, but it just doesn’t quite fit. Rather than passing up the deal, you can take it to a tailor and have the garment altered to fit. If the price is low enough, the total cost – even after alterations – is often less than paying retail.

How Much Alterations Cost

The cost of alterations varies quite a lot. Some jobs involve much more complex sewing than others, and therefore cost more. However, even for the same job, the price depends on where you live and what kind of tailor shop you use.

Prices for common alterations typically fall into these broad ranges:

  • Hemming Pants, Skirts, or Dresses: $10 to $25 – Skirts with a lining cost more to hem than unlined ones.
  • Shortening Sleeves: $15 to $40 – Jacket sleeves cost more than shirt sleeves, and jackets with buttons and linings cost more than plain ones.
  • Adjusting a Waistband: $15 to $25 – Pants or skirts with linings cost more than unlined ones.
  • Taking In a Dress Shirt: $15 to $30
  • Taking In a Jacket or Vest: $20 to $50 – Jackets with three seams cost more than those with two. Taking in the sleeves costs an additional $20 or so, and adjusting the shoulders costs around $40.
  • Taking In a Sheath Dress: $30 to $50 – Raising the waist on a dress costs around $60.
  • Shortening a Suit Jacket: $30 to $40
  • Replacing a Zipper: $20
  • Replacing the Lining on a Garment: $50 to $150
How Much Alterations Costs

The Value of Alterations

Alterations aren’t exactly cheap. For instance, suppose that you buy a suit on sale for $200, and then you have the jacket and jacket sleeves taken in, the waistband on the pants altered, and the sleeves shortened. By the time you’ve finished altering your $200 suit, it could end up costing you as much as $335.

However, by spending that $335, you’re essentially getting a custom fit for far less than the cost of a custom-made suit. A Chicago tailor interviewed by CNBC says he charges anywhere from $800 to $1,800 for a “made to measure” suit – one constructed to fit the buyer’s exact measurements – and that’s with the sewing done overseas, where labor is much cheaper. A “bespoke” suit – one that’s custom fitted and sewn in the tailor’s Chicago shop – costs between $2,800 and $4,800.

Even compared to buying off the rack, alterations can save you money. That’s because you can use them to take advantage of even bigger bargains from thrift shops and clearance racks. For instance, on a recent thrift-shopping trip, my husband found a suit for $59. The jacket fit him perfectly, but the pants were too big, so we had them taken in and hemmed for $35. Altogether, we paid less than $100 for a suit that I later discovered would have cost $650 retail.

Getting the Most for Your Money

Alterations are only worth the money if you actually like the result. If the tailor doesn’t do a good job – or if you didn’t really like the garment that much to begin with – then all you’ll have at the end is a lighter wallet and a garment you still don’t want to wear. So to get the best value for alterations, you need to start with two things: a good tailor, and an outfit that’s worth the trouble of altering.

Finding a Good Tailor

The most difficult part of getting alterations done is finding the right tailor. Many department stores and dry cleaners offer tailoring services, but most style experts usually say it’s not worth bothering with them. According to style blog Alterations Needed, dry cleaner tailors usually can’t handle anything beyond a simple hem, while department store tailors are usually rushed, overworked, and not that interested in your particular needs as a client.

Dappered, a website devoted to affordable men’s style, agrees, stating, “You need a tailor that is your tailor. Someone who knows what you like and what you can’t stand, and can replicate that same look after they perfect it on (hopefully) the first garment you bring to them.” However, department store tailors are worth a try, since they usually have decent skills and low prices – and are sometimes even free for simple fixes, such as hemming.

Unless you’re very lucky, you’re not going to find the right tailor for you by picking a listing at random from the Yellow Pages. Here’s what style experts suggest:

  • Ask Around. Many sources say the best way to find a good tailor is to ask people you know. Alterations Needed recommends talking to “impeccably dressed men” or “perfectly tailored and well dressed women” to find out who alters their clothes. Dappered says that even for men, women are usually the best people to ask, noting that he found his superb tailor through one of his wife’s former coworkers. According to Alterations Needed, you can also ask high-end clothing stores where they send their clients for tailoring, since they’re likely to recommend only the best. Online style forums are another place to look for recommendations of tailors in your area.
  • Check Reviews. If you don’t have anyone to ask, try searching local review sites such as Yelp and CitySearch for phrases such as “tailors” or “alterations.” Look at the tailors who earn the highest overall reviews and see what people like and don’t like about them. Pay extra attention to reviews from other people with your particular body type, such as petite or busty.
  • Look for Experience. In particular, if you’re seeking alterations on an expensive designer garment, look for an experienced tailor who works with this kind of clothing on a regular basis. Kendall Farr, author of “The Pocket Stylist,” recommends looking for tailors who advertise themselves as specialists in custom menswear – even if you’re female. A tailor who can make a custom men’s suit from scratch, she says, can easily handle even the trickiest alterations. If you’re altering a garment made with a material that’s particularly hard to work with, such as leather or fur, look for a tailor who specializes in these fabrics.
  • Examine Their Work. Before hiring a tailor, ask to look at the clothes they have hanging on the racks waiting to be picked up. Examine each piece carefully to make sure the work looks good. Stitches should be neat and even, with no pulling or puckering; hems and sleeves should be even. It shouldn’t be possible to tell, from the outside, that the garment has been altered at all. Extra Petite, a style blog for petite women, offers a detailed guide to discerning good alterations from shoddy ones.
  • Start Out Small. Don’t entrust a complicated job, such as taking in a winter coat, to a tailor you’ve never used before. Instead, start out with something small and simple, like hemming a pair of pants or taking in a waistline. Once you’ve seen that the tailor does competent work with these smaller jobs, you can feel more confident about handing over a difficult or expensive one.
Find Good Tailor

Knowing What to Alter

Even the best tailor in the world can’t make good clothing out of shoddy fabric. Many fashion mavens say only high-quality clothes are worth the effort of altering, because cheaply made clothes don’t last long enough to justify the investment. The author of Alterations Needed laments that she has had inexpensive tops shortened in the past, only to end up tossing them because a few washes left them so badly pilled or faded that they were unwearable.

However, even an expensive designer jacket is never going to look good on you if it’s in a color or style that just doesn’t flatter you. Style experts say it’s only worth altering clothes that you truly love and will wear often enough to get your money’s worth out of the alterations.

When deciding whether to take a particular garment to the tailor, Extra Petite suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Do You Love It? Don’t alter something you feel “lukewarm” about. Ask yourself how often you’ll really wear this garment if you go to the trouble of altering it. If it doesn’t flatter you, or if it doesn’t fill a genuine wardrobe need, it’s not worth the trouble.
  2. Is It Worth It? Consider the total cost of the garment plus alterations – ideally, before you even buy it. For instance, if you find a dress on sale for $50 and you know it will need another $50 in alterations to fit you properly, then ask yourself whether you’d be willing to pay $100 for it if it fit perfectly. If the answer is no, pass on the garment. But even if you’ve already bought your “bargain,” don’t invest another $50 in altering it unless you expect the final result to be worth the extra cost.
  3. Can Your Tailor Handle It? Think about just how much work is needed to get the garment to fit you. Then ask yourself whether you trust your tailor to handle the job. According to Extra Petite, even basic alterations require a competent tailor, and complex ones – taking in shoulders, altering the design of a garment, or shifting a garment more than two sizes up or down – are risky even with a good tailor.

If you’re not sure how to answer the third question, Extra Petite recommends going back to the first question and reconsidering just how much you love the garment. If you truly adore it and you think it’s well worth the cost, then it’s probably worth taking a risk. Just be prepared for the possibility that the results won’t be perfect.

Keep in mind that some alterations are beyond the skill of even the most competent tailor. For example, sweaters are usually knitted on machines, and cutting and resewing them never yields a smooth result. Extremely delicate fabrics, such as chiffon and lamé, are also likely to disintegrate if you tamper with the original seams. Finally, any piece with a very defined silhouette or elaborate details is almost impossible to alter – it’s essentially trying to rebuild the entire garment from the ground up.

Getting the Right Fit

You’ve found a good tailor. You have a high-quality garment to alter. Now all you need is the final ingredient: the right fit.

The ideal fit is neither too tight nor too loose. To some extent, this is a matter of personal preference. Some people like their clothes to fit very close to the body, while others prefer a more relaxed fit. However, a garment is clearly too tight if it feels constricting, and it’s clearly too loose if it sags and bunches in awkward places.

When a tailor is taking in a garment for you, make sure that the altered garment will leave you enough room to breathe. After the tailor has pinned it up on you, try moving around a bit to see how it feels. It shouldn’t pull visibly across any part of your body – chest, stomach, hips, or thighs – whether you’re sitting down or standing up. Sleeves should let you move your arms freely, and pants shouldn’t bind you in either the front or the rear.

On the other hand, the fit shouldn’t be so loose that the garment looks lumpy or misshapen. Pants shouldn’t sag in the buttocks or gap at the waist, and the legs shouldn’t be so long that you risk stepping on them. Shirt and jacket sleeves should reach all the way down your arms when they’re lowered, but shouldn’t expose half of your arms when they’re raised.

Don’t make the mistake of telling your tailor exactly what you want done to a garment, such as, “These shoulder straps need to be one inch shorter.” Your tailor knows more than you do about how to alter a garment, so just explain what you don’t like about it – “This dress feels too baggy in the front” – and let the tailor advise you on how to fix it. If you give exact instructions, you can expect your tailor to follow them to the letter, but you won’t necessarily be happy with the results.

Get Right Fit

Final Word

Finding a trustworthy tailor opens up a whole new world of possibilities for clothes shopping. Suddenly, the question to ask yourself in the fitting room is not, “Does this fit me?” but, “Could this be made to fit me?” If you find yourself stuck between two sizes, with a medium being too small and a large being too big, that’s no longer a deal-breaker: You now have the option of buying the large and turning it into a medium-large, the perfect size and fit for you.

Of course, when shopping this way, you always have to remember to factor the cost of the alterations into your calculations. An oversized vest that looks like a great deal at $17 looks a lot less impressive when you tack on an extra $25 to have it taken in. On the other hand, a $15 pair of dress pants that needs only $10 worth of hemming to make it look like a $60 pair is still a steal.

Do you have your clothes altered regularly?

Even though I don’t perform clothing alterations as often, this is a question I get asked a lot by clients who have taken their clothes to others to be tailored. I think it’s helpful to explain what goes into altering clothes so you have an understanding next time you need it done.

I’ve also included some tips on what to look for when shopping for clothes.

Based on the materials and how the garment was constructed, altering clothes can sometimes be more difficult than sewing new clothes. New clothes start with freshly measured and cut pieces, and are assembled in a pre-defined, efficient order. Altering clothes takes time to review the construction, take apart a section of the garment (or sometimes the entire garment), make the alteration, then reassemble it correctly for the right fit. This should also be done without damaging the fabric and look seamless.

This requires the time of an experienced craftsperson, with knowledge of an array of  fabrics and techniques, to effectively alter a diverse range of garments. Investing in well-made clothes to start with can make the process of altering easier and worth the expense. Unfortunately, the value we place on clothing, sewn goods, and the craft of sewing in general, has fallen to a point where it may not seem worth it to have clothes altered.

Most clothes bought off the rack aren’t intended to be altered. If you do have a garment you like and want it altered, but it was poorly made, modifications could be more difficult or even impossible. If it was an inexpensive garment, paying someone to alter it may not seem like a good value. Why pay $50 to alter a dress that cost $75 brand new?

The answer – you’re paying for the tailor’s time and skill, plus materials, meetings and fittings, regardless of what you originally paid for the garment. In order to provide the service, they still need to be adequately compensated.

The trend of low-cost clothing has created a perception that fees for alterations are out of line because they’re not coming down to match the low value placed on the clothes. So I don’t think it’s alterations that are expensive, it’s just that we’ve come to expect all aspects of our clothing to be much cheaper, and match what we paid for them new.

Fast Fashion

Beneath this low-cost trend is a huge problem of fashion waste that negatively impacts the environment across the world. Clothes are more often thrown away because they don’t last long and it’s cheaper to replace them with new ones.

If you want to learn more, see this post on issues with fast fashion.

Refashion, Reuse, Upcycle

This isn’t going to change overnight, if at all, and I don’t expect everyone to revert back to having all their clothes custom made for them. But that doesn’t mean the value of having clothes altered is completely lost.

Upcycling and refashioning are ways to alter clothes to get more life out of them or changed into something completely unique. Items you may have thrown in the trash are instead personalized just for you and have new value because they can’t be found anywhere else.

I frequently work with clients on refashioning garments and repurposing other items. I also recently participated at the Clothing Swap, hosted by Reduce Reuse Remake, where people can contribute to or explore piles of sorted clothing to get something new. I was on-site to alter and restyle clothes that people brought or found in the donated piles of clothes. It was really fun to design on the spot with whatever was on hand to create something entirely unique.


When you’re shopping for clothes, here are a few things to look for that can help you determine the overall quality. Remember, price is not an indicator of quality. Just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean it’s made well or with good quality fabric.

  • Does the fabric feel thin, rough, or brittle? Higher fiber content can sometimes indicate higher quality fabric that will last longer.
  • Hold the garment up to the light. This will give you a sense of the weight and density of the weave. The tighter the weave, the better.
  • Check the outside AND inside of the seams. The stitches should be tight, evenly spaced, and lie flat.
  • Make sure buttonholes are sturdy and not fraying.
  • Expect to pay more for quality clothing that will last.

I also encourage people to shop at thrift stores to find unique treasures that can sometimes be tailored. Here are examples of pieces transformed into new garments:

Thrifted Pieces Made Trendy Through Tailoring

Shift Dress Remade into Vest and Skirt

Here are a few tips when looking at clothes you may need altered:

  • If it’s too large, there’s a better chance it can be taken in. If it’s too small, a different approach may be needed to expand it, like adding other fabrics if there’s not enough to take out in the garment.
  • Lined garments are more difficult and time consuming to alter.
  • Chiffon, lace, delicate fabrics, and beaded clothing cost more to alter because they require more time and care to sew.
  • Men’s jackets are also expensive because of their complicated construction.
looksmart - 7 Style Tips That Every Man Needs to Know


With more clothing brands, styles, and choices than ever before, navigating the often-confusing world of men’s fashion can be tough. Coupled with an ever-growing list of fashion dos and dont’s, it’s easy to forget that fashion is supposed to be a fun and liberating mode of expression. And that’s what we aim to reinstate.

Style is an expression of who we are and who we want to be. And, as our lives develop, our interaction with fashion and style develops as well. We want to know how to dress for that new job, or for that special occasion while maintaining our personal style. Clothes say so much, so you want to make sure your clothes are giving the right impression.

To demystify all of the ins and outs of men’s fashion, we’ve compiled the best style tips from our favourite fashion bloggers that every male needs to know.


“Proportions are key to an outfit looking its best on you. If a jacket is too short it will visually make you look like you have a small torso and vice-versa with pants.â€
Jared Acquaro, A Poor Man’s Millions

Proportions are often underrated, but they are the difference between a good outfit and a great outfit. Whether it be buying a button-up shirt that is too long to be kept untucked, or buying the wrong size jacket, if part of your ensemble doesn’t reflect the natural proportions of your body, the outfit will look like it is wearing you. If you have long legs and a shorter torso, you can use a longer jacket to create balance between your upper and lower body. The aim is to emphasise your best features and not leave them covered up in ill-fitting clothes.


looksmart - 7 Style Tips That Every Man Needs to Know (2)“Be different. Throw on a pair of coloured socks when rocking short cut pants. It’ll give your outfit that little kick that’ll set yours apart from the rest.â€
Elias El-Indari, SMF

It’s all about the little details. If you don’t want to blend into the crowd, mix up your wardrobe with quirky accessories that reflect your personality. Colourful socks and zany cufflinks add a touch of quirk to any outfit and act as a great conversation starter.

“First impressions aren’t everything, but they definitely count.â€
Marco Volpato, Mr Volpato


We are all about not judging a book by its cover, but unfortunately, if the cover doesn’t look interesting, we can’t help but place it back onto the shelf. Clothing can never fully capture how intrinsically unique each of us is, but it doesn’t mean that we should just ignore what we wear. Appearances play a large part in how you are perceived in the workplace and in your social circles, so your outward appearance should be an accurate reflection of the person behind it. We wouldn’t dream of donning jersey slacks and an old, ripped band shirt to a job interview, but putting in a bit of effort in your everyday life can mean the difference between a bad first impression and a good one.

“The best advice anyone can have is to not follow trends of others and buy the best you can afford.â€
Jared Acquaro, A Poor Man’s Millions


We all know that trends come and go, but sometimes we fall into the trap of investing in trends without realising it. Mixing up your basic wardrobe with a trend here and there is fine, but filling your wardrobe with the latest must-haves each season is expensive. Instead, invest in your basics and, as Jared Acquaro suggests, “buy the best you can affordâ€. If you have a limited budget, don’t buy $400 pair of jeans. Pace yourself and never spend above your means. But, if you can afford a pair of $200 jeans that will last years, invest.


“When thinking about what makes the ultimate shirt, the first things that come to my mind are: quality materials, quality craftsmanship and a high attention to detail.â€
Paul Juchima, No Paparazzi Man

Shirts are often more important than suit jackets, particularly in summer. But finding a well-fitted shirt can be quite challenging. You need to check the fabrication to make sure that it’s a natural fibre (needed for breathability), that the buttons are not only good quality but that they don’t gape, and that the fabric skims along your natural contour. Quality shirts don’t always have to come at a premium price though, so make sure to compare the fit of high-end shirts to your mid-range pieces. For pieces that you are going to wear to death, like a classic white button-up, buy multiples. But for trendy shirts, follow a cost-per-wear estimation to ascertain how much you are willing to pay for that specific piece that may only get a few wears.


looksmart - 7 Style Tips That Every Man Needs to Know (3)“When it comes to men’s suits, understanding the keys of fit, fabric and silhouette are of utmost importance…â€
Benjamin Fitzgerald, D’Marge

Suits are the foundation of every professional man’s wardrobe, and they come with a quality price tag. When you are investing in a new suit, or even your first professional suit, you need to understand what fit, fabric, and silhouette suits your body and your needs. If you are living in a warmer climate that rarely sees temperatures less than 20 degrees, opt for a lighter fabrication. However, if you live in Sydney or Melbourne, you should consider opting for a medium to heavy fabrication in your suits to accommodate for the ever-changing weather conditions.

Shop around and feel the difference between an expensive and an inexpensive suit. Neutral suits that will last you years are worth the investment, but if your line of work doesn’t require a full suit, don’t splurge too much on a suit that will just collect dust in your closet.


“Find a good barber and tailor, they will be your best friends for life!â€
Jared Acquaro, A Poor Man’s Millions

Style is only partially made up of your clothing choices. Elements like your grooming practices and the fit of your clothes play a larger role in your appearance than we often give credit. We love how the blog A Poor Man’s Millions shows that you don’t need to spend millions to look it. It’s the small details that make a mid-range shirt or suit look expensive; such as custom tailoring. No matter if a suit cost you $100 or $1000, if you’ve had it expertly tailored to your measurements, it’ll look like it was a custom suit to begin with.

The same is true for grooming. If your hair and facial hair are kept fresh and tidy, your clothes will merely polish off your already well-groomed appearance.

By following these simple tips and filtering out the endless fashion rules, you can simplify your daily clothing decisions while looking your very best.

Looksmart - Picking the Best Colours for Your Complexion


Colour theory has circulated in women’s fashion for decades, but colour theory is rarely discussed in relation to men. Both genders wear clothes and want to look their best, so they should both be entitled to the same information, whether it be gender-specific or not. We’ve got you covered on how to find the best clothes for your complexion, no matter your gender.


Unless you are constantly attending black-tie galas à la The Great Gatsby, you should be wearing something other than black and white. So, how can you add more colour into your wardrobe?

Colour has an incredible ability to change or enhance the mood of not only the wearer, but of those around them. Colours also have cultural meaning and relevance. For instance, men who wear pink aren’t seen as wearing a girly colour, but rather, are seen as brave for knowing the gender colour bias and still wearing it regardless. They say ‘real men wear pink’ because a cultural construct surrounding a colour isn’t enough to threaten his masculinity. Rather, the very action of doing so, shows a real strong sense of character and stability.

It is our belief that all men, like women, should embrace every colour of the rainbow. But, as we all know, there isn’t just one shade of red. Women are typically more in-tune with their ‘colour profile’ because of hours spent finding the right shade of foundation or right shade of red lipstick for their complexion. There are dusty reds, maroons, wine-reds, true reds, pinky-reds, orangey-reds… and just as a blue undertone separates the colour from true red, so too does our undertone or level of contrast dictate what type of red looks best on us.

Colour theory should never be about what colours you can and can’t wear! It is about what colours you want to wear, and selecting the shade that will best flatter your colouring. Fashion rules are mere guidelines, so you don’t have to worry about carrying swatches of your best colours along to the shops!


The easiest way to look at the relationship between colour and skin tone is to look at the natural contrast in your face:


Those with high contrast colouring typically have very dark hair (such as black or dark brown) with very pale skin. And, if you tan, there’s still a noticeable shift between the colour of your skin and the colour of your hair. People with this kind of complexion typically have very deep brown eyes or clear blue eyes.

Celebrity examples: Patrick Dempsey, Jon Hamm, and Keanu Reeves.

What to consider: Instead of balancing the high contrast of your features, the aim is to play it up. Pair rich navy tailoring with a stark white button-up. Or, for a more casual look, use a basic white tee as your base. By maintaining the high contrast across your ensemble, you’ll avoid looking drab.

Tip: High contrasts are typically more cool-toned inclined, so stay away from your off-whites and creams. Crisp white will look smarter and won’t wash you out!


Most males fall into this category. You may have dark hair, but you lack the pasty complexion that your high contrast counterparts have. Or you’re tanned, but your hair is still darker than your skin tone. People with this kind of complexion are more neutral-toned and can wear a multitude of shades without looking garish. Redheads can also identify with this category, as long as the contrast between their vibrant hair and fair skin is distinct. Most Asian and South American ethnicities fall into this category as well.

Celebrity examples: Orlando Bloom, David Beckham, and Zayn Malik.

What to consider: Instead of reaching for harsh colour pairings, opt for more neutral bases and then add a warm version of your favourite colour such as a pine green or a warm blue to keep it interesting. When donning bright colours, such as a bright red, add it in through your tie or pocket square, alongside a muted blue button-up and navy suit.

Tip: Stay away from clear colours such as icy blues and stark white. Opt for a warmer alternative to bring out the warmth in your complexion.


Low contrast refers to the lack of differentiation between one’s hair and skin colour. So, those who have tanned skin and light brown/dark blond hair, or those with dark skin and dark hair. You’ll be able to tell if you have low contrast if your usual concern when buying clothes is that certain colours wash you out. This also applies to pale Scandinavian complexions, most redheads, and those with grey hair or none at all.

Celebrity examples: Owen Wilson, Mahershala Ali, and Ed Sheeran.

What to consider: Muted hues such as light blues and greys work particularly well on those on the lighter side of the spectrum, whereas those with a richer skin tone will find it easier to experiment with bold colours. Every colour you wear should help create a contrast that lacks in your complexion.

Tip: Stay away from flesh-toned or pastel colours. The lack of depth in these hues will wash you out, so pick a more vibrant or deeper shade to create that much needed contrast. Also be careful with wearing black tops, as it can often be too heavy to carry on a regular basis. Instead, opt for black jeans or pants instead of black tops.


If you are interested in expanding your colour horizons, be sure to go in-store and try on different shades of the same hue to see what looks best. Fashion rules are meant to be broken, so experiment! Why not try a burgundy blazer this Autumn? Not only does it pair well with a basic tee and black jeans, it can be dressed up just as easily for any evening occasion. And, it’s universally flattering regardless of your colouring!

With any clothes you buy, fit is always key so make sure to visit us and we’ll have you looking your best in any colour you fancy!


Looksmart Alterations - Find the Right Wedding Dress For Your Body Type (5)


Wedding gown shopping can be overwhelming for future brides, especially when you’re not sure where to start. Wedding dresses are big business, and as such, there are literally endless designers, shapes and styles to choose from. One way to make this huge world feel smaller is to consider your individual body type, and then work from there in your search.

Considering your body type takes the guess work out of the endless rows of lace, trains and tulle. It allows you to stay open minded, but also realistic. Most brides end up choosing a different dress to what they had originally envisioned, so try not to get too caught up on what it is you ‘think’ you want. It’s not until you try your dress on that you’ll know whether it’s right for you.

If, however, you’re certain of the type of dress you want, you may want to consider having it altered to further suit your body. Alterations allow you to purchase the exact dress you want before molding it to your body type. This approach won’t work with all wedding dresses, but most can be adjusted, whether you’re busty, broad, pear-shaped, full-figured, petite, boxy, tall or short. Just be sure to check before you buy. Many designers offer ‘hollow to hem’ options so that the hem and proportion of dress, especially those with lace or embellishment on the skirt, are scaled proportionately to the bride.


If you’ve got a large bust, you’ll want to minimise your curves by balancing your top with a full skirt. Start with an uplifting foundation garment such as a good bra or corset, and check that the dress isn’t too revealing. Your wedding guests should be focusing on your face, not what’s spilling out of your dress!


To offset your broad shoulders, choose a dress with a bodice that highlights your waistline. Concealing your shoulders is not recommended, as it will take away from your hourglass figure. Show off your broad shoulders with a halterneck, or go for drama with long sleeves worn off the shoulders.


Empire waist gowns are born with boxy women in mind. Cinching at the narrow point just below the bust, empire waist gowns create the illusion of height and curves. Great for short women too, and the ideal wedding gown when pregnant.


A strapless gown or a dropped waist will put more emphasis on your top. Avoid V-neck, as this will draw the eye down. A-line dresses with an empire or natural waist are ideal, as are dresses with diagonal draping. Consider accessorising with a grosgrain or embellished belt, or choose an interesting bodice with artful beading, ruching, or other textural elements.


If you’re fuller-figured, you might want your dress to have a slightly slimming effect – a high-waisted, low-neckline, curve complementing, not-too-clingy design. Avoid spaghetti straps as they won’t offer the support you need. A mermaid or trumpet-style gown is ideal, or a goddess gown that focuses on the fit – snug under the bust, then gently skimming the body.


Floaty goddess dresses with unbroken lines that elongate your frame are ideal when you’re short. Look for a chiffon A-line sheath with floral detail, or a trumpet skirt that offers a continuous line for added height. A high satin band will stretch your stature even further, while a toga gown with a raised waist will create a long, lean line. A beaded strap will draw the eye up.


Looksmart Alterations - Find the Right Wedding Dress For Your Body Type

It’s great to show off a tall frame, but if you want to tone it down a notch, avoid high necklines that draw the eye up to create more length. For this same reason, avoid updos and headpieces that add extra height.

Taller women look great in almost anything, and are one of the lucky ones that can pull of a full-length veil.


As well as body type, consider any hangups or favourite parts of your body. Scroll through your most recent pictures and locate the areas you’re most critical of. If, for example, you think your arms are too heavy, jiggly or skinny, look for a dress with three-quarter-length sleeves in a sheer illusion fabric. Steer clear of off-the-shoulder styles and cap sleeves, which will highlight the upper arms.

If you’re rocking a back tattoo that’s nothing short of a masterpiece, choose a lovely low back and consult with a dressmaker about how you can best show it off. If you’re wanting to hide your tattoos, a bolero could be the answer. Remember, this is your day, and instead of following the current fashion trends, it’s best to choose whatever suits you and your own tastes.


Today’s bride is varied, meaning designers must consider all factors that encompass Australian women. Body shape, height, background and style must be considered and designs created to match. The idea is to highlight and accentuate every individual bride so that they can look and feel their best on their special day. Nothing else will do!

When shopping for a wedding dress, don’t just stop at the first dress you see. Shop around, and when you’ve fallen in love with your gown, pop in to a Looksmart Alterations store to have it altered to perfectly complement your individual shape.


As a family, having a plan for your clothing budget is important. Kids grow out of clothes super fast, and while it can be tempting to buy the latest gear or the prettiest (but most expensive) dress in the store, doing so regularly and for every kid is simply not sustainable. Yes there are some adorable clothes out there, but when the cost of these clothes cut into the family lifestyle, it’s time to rethink your shopping habits.


Accepting and wearing hand-me-down clothes is a fantastic way to save on the family budget. It’s also a great way to protect the environment by giving clothing a second life. Repurposing old clothing diminishes the amount of energy it takes to make and transport new clothing, and for those that have kindly passed the clothing on, seeing a niece or nephew in a former favourite piece can be very warming.

But of course, hand-me-down clothing can have its problems. The fit might be a little off, there might be a small stain or tear, or they might just be a little old fashioned. Don’t fear though – Thanh’s Alterations can help.

A professional tailor can do wonders to any outfit. They can hem it, take it in, or make it look brand new. You might think that doing this will be just as expensive as buying brand new, but we promise it’s more affordable than you might think!


Lots of kids clothes have missing buttons or broken zips, but this doesn’t mean they should be tossed away. These are easy fixes that just about anyone can do. As for stains, these can easily be removed using the power of vinegar. Simply soak in vinegar, hang out in the sun, and then run through a wash as normal. To lift mildew stains, mix equal parts vinegar and water with some salt and soak before washing.


Trends come and go, and some clothing you inherit might be a little stuck in the past. If this is the case, make some adjustments to bring it up-to-date. Put new buttons on a cardigan or coat, embellish and bedazzle to add interest, or add pockets using some funky fabric. Use iron-on hem tape to make a cutout lace shape, add a lace trim to a pair of denim shorts, or give tops a new fit by trimming the bottom to make them cropped. You could even turn felt into a bleach stamp pad and stamp on some cool motifs.


Sew on an embroidery patch of your child’s favourite animal and even the oldest of jumpers will become a new favourite. If you can’t find a patch, employ the services of a profession embroider to do the job. If your child’s favourite colour is pink, take a white T-shirt and dye it to make it a winner. Alternatively, you could turn it into a tie-dying family activity.


All of the above still applies when shopping in thrift stores for used kids clothing. Most stores, be them online or local, only sell goods that have been well cared for. Clothing should be free of stains, tears and fading (although mild fading should be expected). Many second-hand stores will specialise only in quality brand names too, meaning your child can be kitted out in the trendiest names for the lowest prices.


If you know a friend that’s holding onto clothing for when their youngest grows older, ask if you can borrow. Perhaps you’re in the position to make a trade? Find friends with kids of different ages and work as a team to rotate clothing. This works particularly well for big spend items such as coats, raincoats, shoes and boots.


Every time you see a sale, make a note of it so you’re ready for next year. Most stores follow a similar pattern each year, and knowing when the next sale is means you can shop sensibly. This won’t fix the clothing industry issue of energy wastage, but it will mean you never pay full price again.


If you’re worried that an upcoming birthday will mean more toys cluttering up your home, make a registry and ask friends and family to stock up your child’s wardrobe instead. A registry can be a controversial issue, but it’s a great way to get quality clothing that doesn’t cost you a thing. You can always use this saved money to purchase just one toy you know your child will love.


If your own wardrobe is packed full of brand new designer labelled clothing, how do you expect your kids to be happy with hand-me-downs and thrift store finds? Lead by example and alter your existing wardrobe pieces before shopping for anything new. Talk to friends about swapping or rotating clothing, and make the thrift store your first point of call when hitting the shops. Remember, the more you save on the whole family wardrobe budget, the more money you’ll have to enjoy family life.



All fashion sizes are not the same. A size 10 in one fashion store can be a size 11 or 12 in another. Two thirds of our customers surveyed revealed that they owned clothes in different sizes due to the inconstancy of clothing sizes. Click on links below to view online coverage on the sizing survey.