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Why Do I Need to Alter My Clothes?

Every once in a while I get asked this question: “Why would I buy something that needs to be altered?”

To which I respond, “Lucky you if you can always find clothes that fit you perfectly!”

Of course I realize my viewpoint is a bit skewed. I think EVERYONE needs to have their clothes altered. Sometimes they don’t even realize it. I see people all the time, everywhere I go, who need to have their pants hemmed.

Men are especially guilty of wearing their pants too long, too baggy, cinching them up with a belt. If they would pay a little extra to get them to fit properly, they would look so much better. And they wouldn’t have all that bunching waistband under their belt or a baggy butt!

Jeans especially should fit well and since we keep them for a long time, the alterations ~ in my humble opinion ~ are worth the cost. And with stretch denim, they are just as comfortable fitting properly as they are baggy.

But unfortunately, we live in a throwaway society. There are several generations of people now who are used to buying cheap clothes, wearing them for a season and then discarding them. In that case, yes, why would you want to pay to have them altered? Never mind that you are stepping on the bottom of your jeans or the shoulders are falling off. And never mind that you look sloppy. It’s one thing to run around the house or the local grocery store with baggy sweats, but do you really want to go on a date or a job interview with ill-fitting clothes?

I’m from a generation who likes to buy a few really nice garments every year, alter them properly, and wear them for years. I have clothes in my closet (which still fit me!) that I’ve had for 10 and 20 years. I may only wear them once a year or even every other year in the case of something dressy. I also spend my clothing budget on pants made of good material. I alter them and keep them for years, along with my shoes. They call that “sustainability” now and I plan to address that subject in my next column.

And yes, I do buy “throw-away” clothes sometimes. Clothes that will be out of style in one season. Cheap clothes that can be washed over and over for work. I’m especially hard on tops. I never wear an expensive top or sweater to work because I know it will look totally worn out by the end of the day. Yes, I’m a tailor and I work with clothes all day. How does that wear out your clothes, you ask? Mostly leaning up against my work table. Tailors spend as much time, maybe more so, at the cutting table and the ironing board as they do at the machines. We also move up and down a lot, squatting (in my younger days) to mark hems, now sitting to mark hems, standing up to mark the upper body alterations. Movement wears out your clothes. Unless you can wear performance fabrics to work, that is. And then there are pins, needles, scissors, and razor blades which can ruin a garment with one wrong move.

So my choices are to find certain sturdy fabrics that can withstand the abuse or buy something cheap that I can throw away after a few washings. And since it’s getting more and more difficult to find good quality fabrics, I end up with a lot of cheap tops.

Even if you don’t need/want alterations for your everyday clothes, we all need a better than average fit for special occasions ~ weddings, anniversaries, birthdays. Sometimes we need to wear something extra nice to make us feel special. We may look for a certain color or style, so why wouldn’t we want the fit to be just right as well?

For more information on good fit it, check out anewscafe archives for https://anewscafe.com/2011/10/21/how-fitting-is-your-fit-part-one-pants-fit/ and https://anewscafe.com/2011/11/03/how-fitting-is-your-fit-part-two-pants-fit-continued/. In these two articles, I address pant-fitting. Some of the rules will apply to other garments as well.

If you are still not sure, you can always ask your tailor!