How To: Find a Good Tailor

Finding a good tailor is like finding a good deacon, priest, rabbi, or imam. You’re looking for someone who shares your values, offers sound counsel, and can, in a pinch, perform a miracle. Indeed, a skillful tailor can make an off-the-rack suit look bespoke. On the other hand, a maladroit clothier can do serious damage to expensive fabric. Here’s how to find and test out a tailor.

Begin With A Recommendation

A tailor’s work is his best advertising. If you see a friend, or even a stranger, in a beautiful suit, don’t be shy about asking him where he goes. If the absence of a personal recommendation, consult a trusted dry cleaner.

Conduct an Interview

When you approach a prospective tailor, schedule a preliminary consultation. If he’s not willing to schedule 15 minutes to chat, he’s probably not worth your time. When you do talk, he should mostly listen and ask questions. If he’s pushy or you get the sense that he’s trying to upsell you, move on. Also, don’t be shy about asking for a quote. Be wary of tailors who undercharge: Tailoring takes time and skill, and if the price is too good, it’s probably too good for a reason.

Ask For A Sample

All tailors should have samples of their work on hand. While you won’t be able to see how the suit fits, you can get a sense of the tailor’s quality. The stiches should be symmetrical, evenly spaced, but just slightly irregular—a sign that the sewing was done by hand. Look at the fabric. The suit should be 100 percent wool, or, in the case of very high-end suits, wool blended with cashmere. Take a handful of the fabric and squeeze it. It should have some heft to it, but when you let it go, it should regain its shape without wrinkles inside of a minute.

Test Him Out

Start by giving your prospective tailor an older, cheaper suit that needs alteration work. After he’s worked on it, wear it two or three times over the next few weeks and see how it feels. If it feels right, move on to letting him alter a piece that you care about or even fit you for a custom suit.

Photo: Warner Bros

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