Reader Question: Finding a Quality Tailor

Behind every well-dressed man is a quality tailor. This is a central part of the menswear gospel that I preach. But if you’re just getting started, it can be hard to know how and where to find a good tailor. Here’s some advice in answer to a reader question about how to find a quality tailor.

Brian,

The grey tweed suit is fantastic, and like always, you make it look great. I’m a college student, and while I’m not in the market for suits yet, I soon will be. My question is: how do you find a quality tailor you can trust? It seems like your tailor did a magnificent job on that suit.

Jay G.

First, thanks for the compliments, Jay. My tailor, Earle Bannister from the Quinntessential Gentleman, is THE MAN, which is why he’s the only tailor I visit. In terms of finding a reputable tailor who you can trust, begin by simply asking around. Word of mouth is a great way to find a tailor—it’s how I found Earle, actually. After that, schedule a consultation or some alterations and take it from there to see if he’s a good fit for you.

Finding a Tailor - He Spoke Style

Here are a few other really important things to keep in mind:

Cultivate a relationship with your tailor. Just like any other relationship—personal, business, or romantic—a relationship with your tailor is built on mutual trust and respect. Always keep in mind that your tailor is coming from a particular style background—mine spent years as the in-house tailor at my local Brooks Brothers—and will have his or her own views on how menswear should be. They might be steeped in traditional practices so asking for a really tapered trouser leg with no break, for example, might really throw them for a loop. They might even tell you that you can’t, or shouldn’t, do that.

Be respectful and be patient. Listen to them, and if you feel like they’re not quite on the same style page, show them some examples of what you’re after so they can get a visual. You are learning their preferences and they are learning yours. Talking to many of my friends who put some effort into the fit of their clothes, it seems quite common to have these sorts of small disagreements with a tailor in the beginning. Just remember that the quality of a tailor’s work is more important than their personal preferences for fit.

Tailoring is an art, not a science. Some alterations—like hemming pants, for example—are pretty straight forward. Others can get much more complicated. Though there is a general blueprint for how to deal with any alteration, factors such as the fabric and your body shape can require more than a little improvisation. This is where a tailor’s experience and creativity come into play.

Have a style question or need a recommendation? Send me an email and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian
He Spoke Style

Photography by me.

Chime In

  • http://wideeyestightwallets.com Adam

    Great point, and an aspect of upping my style that I haven’t quite nailed yet. I’ve tried out a few guys in Chicago without really loving any of them. I just got a new MTM suit that I’m taking in for a few adjustments and will be trying someone new at that point, hopefully it works out! Meanwhile, if anyone has any recs for a great tailor in the Chicago area, I’d love to hear – wideeyestightwallets!gmail.com

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      Keep hunting, Adam. You’ll eventually find someone you like working with. Have you tried asking around at a Brooks Brothers or nicer department store with a solid menswear section? Could be a good place to start if you’ve been coming up empty so far. Cheers.

  • http://www.manuelracim.com Paul W.

    Great post, full of sound advice. As someone working alongside a custom shirtmaker catering to men on both the conservative and edgier ends of the spectrum, I can echo that it’s paramount to have a trusting relationship with your tailor.

    Part of it is them getting a feel for your preferences, but another crucial aspect is trusting that once they have a grasp of your style, you can heed their advice. My personal tailor doesn’t share some of my preferences (how much cuff to show for example), but we’ve established a rapport and he doesn’t ever second guess my choices. So I know now, if he tells me an alteration is too drastic, that it will jeopardize the fit or construction, that he really means it, and he’s not just trying to push his own sartorial preferences on me.

    I know some guys who think their tailor is too out of touch with what’s “cool,” and so they’ll keep pushing for a certain change because they think the tailor is only unwilling because it isn’t his preference. Then it comes out all wrong. You should find someone who you think knows more than you, because at the end of the day, he should.

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      You definitely hit the nail on the head, Paul. Which is to say that it’s important to keep an open mind. I’ve tried some things that my tailor has recommended and been really pleased with the results. But I wouldn’t have given it a go if I didn’t trust his judgement. Thanks so much for reading.

  • Bill

    I may be paying Earle a visit. I have a wonderful looking coat that I recently bought from eBay that was an incredible deal…but the sleeves are just a leeetle bit too long. Sounds like he’ll take good care of me!

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      Hey, Bill. Earle will most certainly take care of you. Make sure you tell him I sent you!

  • Harry T

    Took me a while to find my tailor but it was very important for me for my wedding that I found someone whose got the skill and I was comfortable working with.

    I went to a few places some cheap some pricey, a great thing I did was ask the store who they worked with and sometimes they’ll directly refer you to them, my guy in Sacramento works directly with Patrick James and they sent me to him. He turned out to be a great guy with a great eye and hand for style.

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      Great story, Harry. Sounds like you hit a home run.

  • Tod C

    Still looking for a good tailor in Ottawa Canada. I have a great seamstress who says all of the right things about jackets so I may just stick with her.

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! Thanks for reading, Tod.

  • http://goodwinjay.wordpress.com/ Jay Goodwin

    I GOT MY OWN POST! HOORAY!!!!!

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      And started a great conversation to boot. Thanks so much, Jay.

  • http://www.maitie.co Dennis De Jesus

    Do you know what sewing machine is that? (he uses) Singer what?

  • http://www.henryherbert.com Will

    What a fantastic article I really enjoyed reading this. I think communication is certainly key!

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      Absolutely. Thanks for reading, Will.

  • Artturi

    Hello Brian. Absolutely love your blog. I have problem with my thighs… You see they are very athletic and more than anything big compared to my waist area. Cant find jeans that fit. You think tailor is the key? Shoud i buy too big jeans and then get the waist area tapered? Thanks

    • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

      You hit the nail on the head, Artturi. Size up in the waist and have your tailor do the rest!

      • Artturi

        Thanks for the answer. Now i only got to find i good tailor. Well let the hunt begin.

        • http://hespokestyle.com Brian Sacawa

          Sure thing, Artturi. Where are you located?

          • Artturi

            Im actually not from USA but from Finland. So it might be a struggle to find one. The culture for tailors is quite different. Not very common for people to use one.