Top 10 Secrets to Finding the best Tailor - Fabric and more

When you’re a special size and most clothing hasn’t been made with you in mind, the only way you’re going to find a great fit is if you get things tailored. It’s not fair, and can get expensive…believe me, I know.   I am six foot tall, have a long torso, a size 10 waist and size 14 backside.   My breasts were once a E now somewhere down (literally and figuratively - pardon the pun) around a D.

In fact, even if you’re not a special size, there’s no way clothing manufacturers are going to get things completely right for your body.  Or get your pant inseam perfect. Or know your bust:waist:hip ratio. To expect a mass produced item of clothing to fit you perfectly is a pitfall a lot of women fall into, and quickly leads to fitting room depression when clothes don’t fit. Sometimes we get lucky and find items that fit amazingly, or close enough to squeak by, but to bypass a great item just because it needs a hem, or go your life without a button down shirt because nothing fits off the rack, is no way to live.

And once you get a few things tailored, perfectly, just for you, a whole new world of fashion will open up to you.  Okay, so how do we go about finding a good one?

Here are some tips from my experiences, and other resources, to help you find your new best friend.

1) Find tailors with high review ratings in your city. We've been busy over the past few years testing and working with many tailoring companies in the UAE.   From bridal, to uniform mass production to copying my favourite Laura Ashley shorts in three colours of linen.   To save you the headache, you can view our select listing of our favourites here.

2) Ask other women. Know any perfectly tailored and well dressed women? Chances are these chic ladies have a fabulous tailor helping them out. This also works for impeccably dressed men.  Bet you didn't know all the major celebrities have EVERYTHING tailored for them - that means t-shirts and jeans too!    

“…everything you will ever see on a celebrity’s body, including their outfits when they’re out and about and they just get caught by a paparazzo, has been tailored, and the same goes for everything on What Not To Wear. Jeans, blazers, dresses – everything right down to plain t-shirts and camisoles…Nothing on the show or in People magazine is off the rack and unaltered.  

We ignore the actual size numbers on the tags, find something that fits an individual’s widest place, and then have it completely altered to fit.  That’s how celebrities have jeans that magically fit them all over, and the rest of us chumps can’t ever find a pair that doesn’t gape here or ride up or slouch down or have about four yards of extra fabric here and there.”  

Clinton Kelly - What Not To Wear

3) Look for tailors that advertise as specializing in custom menswear. Tailors knowledgeable in menswear tailoring should be able to handle your most difficult of alterations, no sweat.  PLEASE be careful when it comes to stretchy fabrics though - this is a completely different skill set.

4) Ask high end boutiques and clothing stores where they send their clients for tailoring. Most of these stores have a reputation to keep, so will work with the best of the best.

5) Skip the dry cleaner tailor. Unless all you need done is a simple pant hem, these tailors aren’t usually as skilled as one who has their own shop.

6) Skip the cheap sweatshops. They are often in a hurry, inundated with items, and disinterested. They won’t take the special care with your garment a privately owned tailor shop will take. It's no wonder so many ladies have been put of the idea in the past.

7) Make sure they understand you. This may sound a little patronising, but honestly, just because you get a head-wobble response or a "yes madam", it doesn't mean that your message actually got through.   Also, if they don't make notes of what is required, nor give you a receipt as proof you even took your item to them - run a mile!

8) Bring an easy, starter piece to be altered before you bring out the really expensive or complicated ones. Things like a pair of jeans that needs hemming or the waist taken in is good. That way, you can get a feel for the tailor’s work, before handing over anything of value to get altered.

9) Talk with the tailor, not at them. Tell them what bothers you about the garment and ask them what alterations they think it needs. This way you can get a feel for just how knowledgeable they really are (and how well they speak your language!). The mistake I made at first was telling the tailor what I thought the garment needed, and never asking them for advice. They made my alterations, but I was never satisfied. Why you ask? I’m not a tailor! I don’t know what a garment needs!  I'm the fabric lady!

10) Make sure your garments are worth the cost of alterations. Don’t spend extra money to get an item altered if it’s going to have a short closet life. Avoid altering cheap fabrics or cheaply manufactured items. I’ve made this mistake, and ended up tossing tops I’d had shortened after only a few washes because they were cheaply made and ended up piling/fading like crazy. Never again!

Now go out and find yourselves a tailor! And then add your new amazing tailor to the comments below to help other ladies in your city look as fabulous as you do.