If you want your suit to look like it is custom made for you, then taking it to a tailor for some basic alterations is a good bet. But what, exactly, will the tailor do to customize the fit of the suit? Often, it all comes down to five major changes.
1. Adjust the shoulders.
The shoulders are one of the most important parts of the suit to fit. If the shoulder parts of the jacket are too baggy, you will look disheveled. Conversely, if they are too tight, you will be uncomfortable. Your tailor can more easily take in the shoulders than let them out, so if you have a choice, buy a suit jacket with bigger shoulders over one with too-tight shoulders.
2. Hem the sleeves.
Everyone has different arm lengths, and it is rare to buy a suit of the rack with sleeves that perfectly fit your arms. Your tailor can hem the sleeves so that they rest perfectly at your wrists while your arms are bent.
3. Hem the pants.
Pants, similarly, tend to come in only "even" lengths. A size 32 may be too short for you, but a size 34 might be too long. Luckily, a tailor can customize the length of your pants. Just make sure you wear the same shoes you intend to wear with the suit to the tailoring appointment so that your tailor can estimate the length correctly. If you wear shoes with a larger heel to your tailoring appointment and then switch to a flatter shoe, your pants will seem too long.
4. Taper the waist.
A properly fitting suit jacket should come in just slightly at the waist, giving you a nice silhouette. Most suit jackets are left a little looser at the waist to accommodate a larger mid-section, and then your tailor can add a few tapers or tucks to bring the waist in to fit you.
5. Adjust the collar.
When you button your suit jacket, the collar should lie flat against your neck. If it bulges or buckles a little, this just means it is a bit too big. Your tailor can either trim the collar down a little to eliminate this bulge, or they can add a hidden stitch or two to mechanically hold the collar down.
Once your tailor has completed the steps above, you should have a perfectly fitted suit. There's nothing quite like stepping outside in a suit that makes you feel confident and empowered all at once. Contact a tailor to learn more about suit alterations.