Alter Egos: Why Every Man Needs a Tailor
Behind every well put-together modern man is what we like to refer to as his Dream Team – the people he calls upon day and night to achieve a higher level of fitness, grooming, sophistication – of life itself. From the personal trainer who gets you out of bed at unspeakable hours to sculpt your enviable abs to the barber who keeps your locks tamed and your beard at bay, these are the people who ensure you look and feel your absolute best day in and day out. But what about your clothing? Who tends to your outermost layer – the one you show the world? Your body doesn’t look exactly like anyone else’s, so why should we expect clothes to fit as is off the rack? To make sure your wardrobe fits you as well as your haircut, you need a tailor, plain and simple. You might think that only men with hard-to-fit body types are in need of a tailor, but the reality is this: Tailoring is the quickest, easiest way to attain that perfect, one-of-a-kind fit that makes any piece of clothing look more expensive, more elegant, more inherently yours. Your Sartorial Psychic The number one goal of the clothing you choose (besides the obvious not getting arrested for public nakedness thing) is to make you look like the best version of yourself. To accentuate the positive (rock-hard pecs, slim waist) and de-emphasize any less-than positives (whatever your personal ones are, we all have ‘em). A talented tailor will take that ready-to-wear shirt, pants, or suit and make it yours and yours alone, meaning it will play up exactly what you want it to by fitting you like a second skin. While some designers have become really tuned in with fit, truth is not all ready-to-wear pieces come directly off of the rack looking like it was custom made for you – because it wasn’t. Designers and store brands alike play the averages of their customer base, meaning that a 42 regular suit is going to fit differently whether you go to H&M, Nordstrom, or Armani. That’s why it’s imperative to not only try things on at every store and study size guides online, but to then take items to your tailor to get them just right. A good designer or store brand will fit you about 90-95 percent of the way, but to achieve 100-percent perfection – to get that extra 5-10 percent on point – you need a tailor. When you invest in high-quality ready-to-wear clothes, you owe them the extra attention that careful tailoring provides. The Extra Mile Where custom-made clothing can be costly, time-consuming, and, frankly, a gamble (one wrong move can ruin the entire garment), off-the-rack pieces can be made to look personalized through the prowess of a gifted tailor. Think of a tailor as an extension of a designer or clothing company. These sewing professionals not only understand fabrics, patterns, and stitching techniques like your own personal Tim Gunn, they also master the proper fit from working with so many body types and style preferences. With a few nips and tucks, they’ll have your off-the-rack piece looking like it came directly from Saville Row to your closet. Trust us, once you find your favorite tailor in town, you’ll know their kids’ names and they’ll be added to your holiday gift-buying list. That’s how indispensable their services are to your wardrobe and your overall confidence. Geniuses in Our Midst So where does one come across these wardrobe wizards? Tailors can be found in their own freestanding shops, at the department and designer stores you frequent, and even at your own dry cleaner. A good rule of thumb is that if a garment only requires simple chalking to alter, your dry cleaner’s services are a solid option. However, anything that requires actual pinning should go straight to your favorite tailor (or utilize the store’s in-house amenities, if they are offered). As with finding other members of your own personal Dream Team (such as that personal shopper you no longer remember life without), we highly recommend asking around. You know that colleague whose suits fit like a glove or that guy at the club who always seems to have a lock on the latest denim length? Ask them who their go-to tailor is, and (hopefully) they’ll share. There might also be some trial and error – talk to several tailors in town about what you normally wear, what you would like to wear and what they think you should wear. You’re sure to find the ideal fit, and that’s when things get interesting. Alter Reality You may now be wondering which pieces of clothing you buy and already own are good candidates for tailoring. Suit and sport coats, shirts, trousers, and jeans can all be chalked, tucked, pinned, and otherwise tweaked to ensure you have the ultimate fit. Taking a dress shirt from a classic cut to a slim fit – by far the most flattering silhouette – can be as easy as streamlining the waist to your individual measurements. Sleeve lengths can also be shortened or lengthened so that they extend the ideal ¼-1/2 inch past your suit or sport coat (all the better to show off those spiffy new cuff links). Speaking of your coat, the sleeves should hit at the break in your wrist. Your tailor will also pay special attention to how the shoulders and waist fit, as well as the length. If the jacket is too broad, it can be tapered through the shoulders and center and side seams, while the waist should have enough give on both sides to smoothly accommodate your dress shirt. Your coat’s length can also be altered to fit these guidelines: A sport coat should hit around mid-butt, while a suit coat should always fall to the exact crease of your buttocks. Any pockets can be shortened or raised to accommodate the new jacket length. Trousers and jeans can be taken in at the waist and crotch for a sleeker silhouette, the bottoms can be narrowed, and they can be hemmed or cuffed to the ideal break for you (the spot where your pants hit your shoes). Beyond the Basics to Bespoke Over time, your relationship with your tailor will evolve to the point of him knowing your particular physique and fit by rote. However, a trusted tailor may also challenge a man’s style sense. Have you always worn your jeans with the same break? You and your expert tailor might together think outside the break box – if you truly feel like you’re in good hands, he might even get you to try that quarter break you’ve been working toward. (Word to the wise: Your tailor should always, always maintain the original hem of your jeans.) That’s the beauty of a valued tailor – the fit of your clothes is one less thing you have to think about. Now, about that holiday gift…
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