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Essential Suit Alterations Every Gentleman Should Know

tailor working on suit alteration and adjusting shoulders

Suit Alterations are just a reality of buying professional clothes. Finding an off-the-rack perfect fit is like winning the lottery and isn’t the norm. But when suit shopping, how do you know which parts can be altered?

This guide covers the essential suit alterations that every suit-wearer should know, so you can shop with confidence!

Suit Alteration 1: Pant Hemming

This simple alteration will most likely need to be done on every suit you purchase. Hemming the trousers of your suit lets you determine exactly how you want the pants to break, whether you prefer the more traditional full break length or a more modern length that sits above your shoe.

When suit shopping, if you’re torn between 2 different pant lengths, spring for the longer one. While occasionally a seamstress or tailor can let out a too-short pant and give it a bit more length, it’s much easier to hem a trouser to your desired break.

Suit Alteration 2: Tapering Pant Legs

Sometimes, you find suit pants that fit perfectly in the waist – but they’re a tad too baggy in the leg. Pant tapering is the solution!

A tailor can perform a suit alteration to your pant legs, bringing in a baggy fit so you look your best. The seam is re-sewn, leaving no trace behind, and excess fabric will be trimmed down so you have a comfortable and stylish fit. 

close up of a tapered suit pant leg after alterations

Suit Alteration 3: Adjusting Jacket Sleeves

A suit isn’t complete without a sleek and well-fitted jacket sleeve. Tapering the sleeve of a suit jacket is a process that reduces the sleeves so they fit comfortably around the shirt cuffs. There are several areas on the sleeve that can be reduced, but if severe tapering is needed for your suit alteration, your tailor will need to also utilize fabric from the shoulder seams as well. 

The length of the jacket sleeve can also be hemmed so that it hits your wrist and hand properly.

Suit Alteration 4: Taking In or Letting Out the Jacket Waist

A great fitting suit jacket means you need a great fit on your jacket waist. When a tailor takes in a suit jacket waist, they un-sew the seams, pulling them deeper into the jacket. This reducing the overall circumference and brings in the jacket for a proper and comfortable fit. 

A professional tailor or seamstress can also add space to the waist of your suit jacket by “letting out” the jacket. This involves the reverse process of taking in the jacket—the seam is un-sewn and re-sewn further out, closer to the fabric edge. This utilizes any additional fabric available under the seams, which can vary by suit jacket. 

Suit Alteration 5: Narrowing Jacket Shoulders

One of the more intricate suit alterations is narrowing the shoulders on a jacket. When the shoulders of a jacket sit too wide, they give an overall sloppy and unfinished look. This suit alteration adjusts the jacket shoulders to sit properly on your frame, creating the proper silhouette for the entire piece.

If everything about your suit jacket is perfect, except for some space and give in the shoulders, this alteration is a great trick to have in your back pocket. 

tailor working on suit alteration and adjusting shoulders

Suit Alteration 6: Adjusting Jacket Length

The right jacket length can enhance body proportion and improve overall balance in the suit’s appearance. When a suit jacket hangs too long, it detracts from the entire look.

Adjusting the jacket length by either shortening or lengthening it is an easy fix for an expert seamstress. The goal is to work with your body type, and find the length that will best compliment it.

Suit Alteration 7: Adding or Removing Padding in the Shoulders

The padding (or lack thereof) in your suit shoulders determine the overall profile of the look. It also impacts perception of your stature and posture.

Padding styles have changed throughout the years, and even vary today based on industry and seniority. An expert tailor can work with you to determine the right amount of shoulder padding for your suit and situation, and either add or remove fabric has needed to achieve the desired look.

Suit Alteration 8: Altering the Back Vent of Your Jacket

The back vents of your jacket are the slits that allow more movement and comfort around the waist and hips. Common styles are single or double, though occasionally you see jackets without a vent at all.

Adjusting, adding, or removing vents can allow for you and your suit to move more naturally, avoiding awkward pulling of the fabric. Or, if the style calls for it, the vent can be removed all together.

Suit Alteration 9: Reshaping the Collar

Is a gap in your jacket collar ruining an otherwise great look? Collar reshaping isn’t an alteration that commonly jumps to mind when considering suit alterations, but it can be the finishing touch on a jacket. 

If your suit collar has gaps, bunching, or puckering, working with an expert tailor to reshape it is the solution. A properly shaped collar will lie flat, giving you a more put-together and professional look.

a suit hangs on a hanger

Suit Alteration 10: Fixing a Pocket

Pockets are not only functional, they contribute to the suit’s entire look. When the lining becomes worn or damaged, resulting in a hole, a tailor can easily repair them and restore function.

Pockets can also be resized, added, or removed from both suit pants and jackets as needed, in case you need more (or less!) storage space on the go.

Kean’s is Here For All Of Your Suit Alteration Needs

Our expert seamstresses are the best in Baton Rouge, and are available to answer all of your suit alteration questions. Stop by any of our locations to get started!

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