A Complete Guide To Tailoring & Alterations


When going through your closet, is there a secrete stash of clothes that you have but don’t fit just right? Maybe it is just a little too tight or too loose in some spots. If you are avoiding wearing those garments because of the fit bringing them to an experienced tailor can make a world of difference.

Tailoring can’t fix every major issue, but with a bit of help, a seasoned specialist can bring new life into those garments for you.

At Jaxson Maximus, our team of experienced custom clothiers and tailors have put together this fantastic guide on everything you need to know about getting your garments altered.

What Is The Difference Between Alterations and Tailoring?

By definition, alterations mean that the garment is changed in a way to make the wearer feel more comfortable in the clothing. It does not mean that the garment is created from scratch. Instead, it is changing something that is already created. These changes can take many forms, such as hemming the bottom of a pant, shortening the sleeves, taking in the side seams, etc.

On the contrary, tailoring is something completely different. By definition tailoring, is to make the clothes for a particular person’s body. For example, creating a bespoke suit for you would be a tailoring service. It would not include mass production items as you would buy in a traditional retail store.

Both services are a skilled craft that a seamstress/seamster would be able to assist you with.

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Should I Get My Suit Tailored?

The greatest factor to killing an outfit isn’t how much you spend on a garment. It is the fit. Looking great in any outfit boils down to how well that suit fits on you. It doesn’t matter if you spend $300 or $3,000 on a suit if the fit is off.

A big reason to invest in tailoring your garments is that it will save you the time and money of replacing those items in the long run. Some items like jeans are easier to replace than a classic navy suit.

If you find a great pair of jeans on sale but are a little too long, bringing them to a tailor can help you save a significant amount of money.

How Much Are Alteration/Tailoring Costs?

Costs are one of the top reasons many people avoid taking their garments to get altered. It is hard to put an exact cost on your alterations as many different factors are involved. Most alteration shops will base the cost on the time involved in performing the alteration.

For example, hemming the bottom of a pant will be significantly less than taking in a wedding dress where the sides need to be re-hand beaded. Something that takes a seamstress 15 minutes will cost a lot less than an alteration that takes a few hours.

Another factor that will play into the cost of the alteration is the skill level of the seamstress/seamster performing the service. An individual who has a longer tenure will charge more than someone just starting out.

At our storefronts at Jaxson Maximus, we always wait to see the garments in person before giving a price quote. This will allow for our tailors to accurately judge the amount of work that needs to be done to the garments.

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How Much Are Alteration/Tailoring Costs?


Although tailors can work magic, there are certain limitations to what they can and can not do. The biggest rule of tailoring is that a tailor can always reduce the amount of fabric on a garment, but they can not make something bigger, at least by much. Exactly how much they can size up a garment depends on how much allowance the manufacture leaves on a garment. An allowance is the extra fabric left on a garment after production for slight alterations. A tailor can not make a garment bigger by what is left on the allowance.

Fast fashion and cheaper garments tend to have less of an allowance than higher-end garments do the cost associated with their production. Therefore, you will have a better chance of buying a garment that is too big than too small.


A suit/jacket is quite a complex garment in its construction. It is very difficult and very costly to shrink a suit multiple sizes because of the amount of work it takes to reconstruct the garment from scratch. Often these alterations can be upwards of a few hundred dollars, so depending on the cost of the suit, it might make more sense to buy a new garment altogether.

A general rule of thumb is that you can size down a suit maximum of two sizes without it being too challenging to alter.

Wear and Tear:

At some point in time, the lifecycle of a garment will end. There is only so much a tailor can do to a garment that has been through years of wear and tear. If a garment is beyond repair, your tailor will let you know that there is simply nothing they can do for the garment except to recycle/donate it.

Subtracting The Buttonholes On A Suit:

One common alteration that is asked about is if a tailor can change the number of buttons on a jacket. Depending on where you want the buttonhole, as long as the tailor shop has the correct machine, a buttonhole can be added on. Subtracting a buttonhole is an entirely different story.

Transforming a three-button suit to a two-button suit is not something that is doable as it would require the closure of the additional buttonhole. No matter what, this alteration will always be noticeable no matter what you do to the garment.

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The Most Common Alterations For An Off The Rack Suits That Can Be Done

Sleeve Length:

While your jacket may not fit you 100% exactly how you would like it to adjust the length of the sleeves can make a big difference. Having a sleeve look too long can make you look sloppy and like your trying on your dad’s old suit. As a general rule, your jacket’s sleeve should hit just above your wrist.

Hemming of a Pant:

This is by far one of the most common alterations at any tailor shop. In the off the rack suiting world, don’t be surprised if your suit arrived with unfinished hems at the bottom. This will allow for you to get the exact length of the hem correct based on your height. An ideal break in the pant is 1/2 to 1/4, any longer, and you run the risk of having your pants look too baggy.

We always recommend bringing the pair of shoes you will most likely be wearing with the pant to help the tailor determine the correct length of the pant.

Waist and Seat Adjustments:

Let’s face it, 99% of all off-the-rack suits are not going to fit every body type. A common adjustment tailors will need to make is adjusting the waist and seat of the pant. The tailor can bring in or let out at the waist and seat, but a general rule is you don’t want to plan on letting anything out more than 1/2-1”.

Taper Pants:

To give your pants shape, you much make sure that they are tapper to fit you correctly. Tapering your pants will give you that polished, pulled-together look that you need with a great-fitting pair of pants. You want to do the sit test while wearing your pants as a rule of thumb. If you can sit comfortably in a chair without your legs feeling like they will bulge out, that means the fit is correct. You want a little bit of room to be able to sit and stand comfortably but not enough that they look baggy.

About Jaxson Maximus

Jaxson Maximus, located in Miami, FL, is a lifestyle brand. We combine a luxury men’s custom clothier, a fine men’s salon, and a tailor shop all in one location. We have a full tailor shop for outside alterations at our storefront locations.

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