10 Tips for Finding Your Perfect Tailor


I recently moved to a new city, which means…I need to find a new tailor! Oh no! My Los Angeles tailor is amazing, but I can’t drive back and forth for my tailoring needs (I tried, believe me), so it’s time to find a new tailor.

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.

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. Search local review websites like yelp and citysearch for “tailor” and “alterations”. Extra points if there are positive reviews from other petite women. This is how I found one of my favorite tailors in Los Angeles.

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. There’s also a Tailor page here on Alterations Needed dedicated to tailor recommendations from other petites!

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. (tip courtesy of The Pocket Stylist by Kendall Farr)

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 department store tailors. 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. (Of course, there are exceptions. I’ve heard of ladies requesting specific tailors at department stores like Nordstrom that they know for a fact do a good job. I’ve never had such luck).

7) Ask to see a piece of their work. This is a good idea if you have lots of complicated alterations or expensive garments. Make sure the stitches look good, garment looks symmetrical, and that it doesn’t look obviously altered. If a tailor shows you a hacked, misshaped piece of work, run away quickly!

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. 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!

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 Tailor page to help other petite ladies look as fabulous as you do.

Share any other tips for finding a great tailor in the comments!

Join the Conversation


  1. says: PetiteAsianGirl

    Great post! #7 is important. Ask to see specific examples, like a pair of pants with the waist taken in, a jacket or blazer with the shoulders narrowed, or a dress with the torso slimmed. Ask how much those examples cost. I think I did a post a looong long time ago showing some of my alterations failures and how I wished I had examined their work prior to paying so much for garments to be destroyed.

    Oh and #10 – it's not just cheaply made items, but also items that you don't see yourself LOVING. I've gotten quality items altered (first designer denim hem I paid $25 ..ahhhh…for the original hem. It came out great, but I didn't love the style and never wore them).

  2. says: St Germain

    Like asking for custom menswear tailor, you could ask around for bridal tailors. They have to do SO many alterations.

    Another suggestion (though I know this isn't what you were asking for): consider taking a sewing class at a local fabric/sewing store and getting an inexpensive sewing machine from Target. My mom taught me how to sew back in the 70s when I was just a young girl and it has proved to be such a valuable skill! I can hem my designer denim with the original hem, I can hem a skirt with an invisible seam, I can shorten jacket sleeves, I can create darts, I can taper. It has saved me $1000s!

    Granted, it takes more time that dropping something off at the tailor (maybe not if you consider driving to and fro), but I work it in on Saturday mornings while my kids are watching cartoons. I keep a basket in my bedroom with things to alter and grab one if I have a spare 30 min. It gets easier with practice.

  3. says: ReallyPetite

    I am in need of a diff tailor- mine is great but way too expensive…I will have to check out the one you used to go to. It's quite a drive for me but may be worth it :)

  4. says: Nelah

    Great tips. I have never taken my clothes to get altered due to the price. Most of the time I just deal with ill fitting clothes which is not good. I am hoping to do a major haul on clothes outside the US soon and get them altered at a fraction of the price.

  5. says: Alterations Needed

    @PetiteAsianGirl – Great tips Jean! Asking to see more difficult alterations (like taking in the shoulder of a jacket) is a wonderful point. If difficult alterations look good, then the tailor should be able to handle your worst tailoring jobs. Also a great point about #10. Making sure you LOVE the item is very important. If you're going to invest in alterations in a piece, make sure you'll get lots of wear out of it, and actually ENJOY wearing it. Otherwise, what a waste of money!

  6. says: Alterations Needed

    @St Germain – Excellent advice about the bridal tailors! They often perform miracles on complicated bridal dresses, so they should be able to take in your clothes easy as pie. Learning to sew is another great option, although a bit time consuming, as you mentioned, and for someone like me who is very frustrated by mistakes in clothing alterations, a bit nerve racking. I have a little sewing machine that I just have not had the time or patience to sit down with…sigh…

  7. says: Alterations Needed

    @ReallyPetite – You're right, my tailor is trek for you. I'm sure if you do some research, you can find a great one closer to home.

    @AubreyOhDang! – Me too! He's going to be my next tailor attempt. I'm so glad Christina shared him on the AN Forum!

    @Nelah – Wow! I have no idea how you lasted so long without a tailor! I've heard tailoring in Asia particularly is very cheap. My boyfriend has a suit custom made for him in Thailand that was dirt cheap. If I were to do that here in the US, it would cost a small fortune. =P

  8. says: kileen

    i think it's really important to talk with your tailor about what you want and what they can do. sometimes what you had in mind isn't really feasible given the cut of the fabric or the material, so the result of the alteration won't end up being what you wanted. i've lost many items this way unfortunately. these are great tips though and thanks for posting this!

    cute and little
    come enter my giveaway!

  9. says: Melissa

    A very informative post. First time commenter but have been a reader for awhile. My parents own two tailor stores and have been in the business for more than 20 years. Your ten tips are wonderful! You wouldn't believe the amount of customers that come in asking for help after another tailor or dry cleaners botched up their clothing! Along with menswear, tailors are experienced when they advertise specializing in formal evening wear. Evening wear has difficult fabric, many layers, boning, beading, etc. If they can master this, then they can pretty much do everything else. Also, please respect the profession. It's really irritating to see someone come in and say to my mother "$25 is too expensive for an original hem! I'll agree to $15" or "Why are you charging so much? It's only to take in the sides..it's easy work." If you do not agree with the price, say that you will shop around for another place. They don't mind…really! I consider myself lucky since my parents alter my clothes =D

    1. says: Ellyn Painter

      Hi, Melissa: I really liked your comments about customers needing to respect the profession. As a professional alterations seamstress myself, I’ve heard this refrain too many times from customers who think they can bargain the price down to their liking. People don’t think twice about paying their car mechanic $25 for a 15-minute oil change, but they expect to get a jeans hem taking the same amount of time for $3 instead of $10.

  10. says: Alterations Needed

    @Melissa – You're so lucky to have such talented parents! I'm glad you approve of my tips, since you're practically in the business yourself. =)

    Great tip with the formal evening wear! I never would have thought of that, but it does make sense that a tailor would be able to handle anything if they can alter difficult formal wear.

  11. says: Alterations Needed

    @ReallyPetite – You're right, my tailor is trek for you. I'm sure if you do some research, you can find a great one closer to home.

    @AubreyOhDang! – Me too! He's going to be my next tailor attempt. I'm so glad Christina shared him on the AN Forum!

    @Nelah – Wow! I have no idea how you lasted so long without a tailor! I've heard tailoring in Asia particularly is very cheap. My boyfriend has a suit custom made for him in Thailand that was dirt cheap. If I were to do that here in the US, it would cost a small fortune. =P

  12. says: Ric

    Who was your tailor in Los Angeles.  I had a great tailor but he went out of business.  I need someone who really knows what he/she is doing in terms of altering men’s business and casual clothing.  Ideally it would be someone who came to your house, but I’d be willing to drive pretty far to find someone good.  I’m in the Hollywood/Los Feliz area.

  13. says: Kpxbabii

    My mom is a “drycleaner tailor” and all our customers say shes far better than anyone they’ve ever been to! We’ve even done wedding dresses and do men’s suits all the time. To say that “drycleaner tailors” are not as skilled is an insult..

    1. Hi Kpxbabii! It’s fantastic that your mom is an excellent tailor! As I’m sure you know, there are exceptions to EVERYTHING, and this post is just a series of tips for people who are completely clueless as to where to look for a good tailor, based on my experiences (and others I know). If your mom is as good as you say (all family biases aside) then I’m sure she would end up falling under the category of a “good tailor” as per tips #1 & #2, because no matter where a tailor works, a good tailor really gains customers based on word of mouth.

    2. says: Ellyn Painter

      Thank you, Kpxbabii. I worked as a drycleaner tailor for 20 years, and am considered very good at my craft. At our drycleaner I did all kinds of alterations, including men’s suits, wedding gowns and other formal wear. You are totally correct. There are excellent seamstresses, as well as bad ones in any venue. A customer has to be open minded, as well as discerning in their search for the right professional.

  14. says: Vicki

    Your tips for finding a good tailor are right on. Yes you can find a few good tailors in dry cleaners but most are over worked and under paid. They tend to hurry the work as the piles are endless and most do not do in dept alterations as you stated.

    Kpxbabii your mom probably would make more money on her own if she is as good as you say.

  15. I am a tailor and i work at home. Skip dry cleaner and deptartment store tailors. Thay are to busy and in hurry.Thaywill not take a special care with yor garment.Look for tailor working at home like me.My ladies saying i am the best in town. And onceyou find a tailor that do good job for you,a whole world of fasion will open up to you.
    writeon my wall if you need my help.

    1. says: Ellyn Painter

      I just came across this site, so note that I’m responding to your comment 9 years(!!) after the fact, so don’t know if you will see this. I also now operate a home sewing business, but worked professionally in a number of tailor shops, drycleaners, and department store venues over the past 2 decades plus. It really depends on the store or drycleaner as to what they will do, the skill of their sewers, and how fast they work. I’ve had plenty of experiences over the years having to correct the shoddy work for a customer of women who THINK they do “professional alterations” at home, but who really don’t know how to work to a deadline, or use the alterations techniques or equipment professionals do to make their work look “store bought” (or almost). Professionals are often very busy, but they have learned to work fast, while still doing good work. I don’t know you, so am NOT AT ALL implying that you don’t know what you’re doing. I’m just saying that there are good and bad professionals in whatever situation they work, and you have to choose carefully.

  16. says: S. Thornton

    I really thought tailors/dressmakers were only for rich matrons !  Using a tailor seems to actually SAVE money – if your clothes fit right, you wear them more often! 

  17. says: Ayumi Lafser

    Wow, those are excellent advices! I will surely remember these when I go look for my tailors!  I’ve never given my clothes to tailors before but I think I have to in some of my clothes that are more than just hemming (I usually do that myself). Thank you!


  18. says: Julie

    Great advice! I especially appreciate the point about looking for a tailor specializing in custom mens wear. Thank you!

  19. says: Nisha

    yes , its hard to find a good tailor and its all the more painful when you move to a new city.

    thats something we are trying to address at our company – myTAILOR.IN

    provide custom clothing services around the world without a hitch, all you need to do is send in your design image or just put it in words, we will do the rest. Get the fabric, help you with measurements, stitch, and deliver..

    would you like such a service? let us know. http://mytailor.in

  20. says: Jenny

    Hi –

    Any luck finding a tailor in the bay area? I also recently moved and am looking for a tailor that is knowledgeable of petite sizes. Thanks!

  21. says: Alan David

    Even though this article was written 5 years ago, the content and tips are still what you need to consider when finding that perfect tailor for your alteration needs in any city you’re located. In New York City, where I’m located, there are many “custom tailors” and finding the right one can be a daunting task. Articles/tips such as this, can come handy. Thank you for sharing.

  22. I agree that you would want to look for tailors that advertise being a specialist. I would imagine that if someone is really good at their job it would make sense that they would advertise it. My husband is looking for a new tailor so he’ll have to find one that is specialized in custom menswear.

  23. My fiancee and I are getting married next month. I have gained a little weight, so I’m looking for a good suit alteration service that can help me look my best. I didn’t realize how important it is to choose a service that specialize in custom menswear to ensure they can handle the most difficult alterations. I’ll be sure to remember this consideration moving forward.

  24. I agree, if you’re going to hire a personal tailor then you want to find one with great reviews. After all, a tailor is a huge investment that you need to put a lot of time and money into. Because of that, you have to make sure that the one you are hiring will be able to give you the best work possible for your wardrobe.

  25. says: Ellie Davis

    I loved your recommendation about asking high-end boutiques about a tailor and take advantage of their reputation to find the best. My husband and I will be attending his boss’s wedding, and we are looking for advice to look perfect. I will let him know about your recommendations to help him find the best tailor to help him.

  26. says: Ellyn Painter

    Although I am currently a self-employed alterations seamstress (I don’t call myself a tailor, since I don’t make high-end bespoke garments), for over 25 years I almost always worked for drycleaners and department stores doing complex alterations. So, I somewhat take issue with your advice not to trust seamstresses in those venues. It depends completely on the store or drycleaner, as to what they do, or how skilled their seamstress(es) is/are! I have loved sewing since childhood (I designed and made clothes for my barbie dolls, and made most of my own clothes), but learned all my professional alterations and fitting skills at the places I worked. I learned menswear from a professional tailor at Minsky the Tailor; I learned detailed bridal and formal wear alterations at Jacobson’s and Hudson’s, etc. At the One Hour Martinizing drycleaning franchise I was employed by for 20 years I operated their alterations/repair service, and did (and still do) professional fittings, and alterations of many sorts, including some custom sewing on anything from curtains, to horse blankets, to backpack and golf bag repairs, to making cushion covers. I can’t do everything, and I don’t, as I said, make suits, or other complex garments, nor am I an upholsterer. I’m not alone. I have exceptionally trained colleagues in the field who work in similar circumstances as I did. So customers should please not ignore checking out department store and drycleaner seamstresses and tailors. And specialized tailor shops are also usually very busy, usually underpaid, and don’t always do good work. (although I hasten to say the ones I’ve worked for are excellent!) You just have to do your research. Thank you.

  27. I like your advice about telling a tailor about what bothers me with the dress and ask them what kind of alteration it would need to gauge their knowledge and expertise. Ellen, my friend, has found her wedding dress. It needs to be altered to fit her perfectly, so she’s looking for the right tailor for the job. I’ll share these tips you mentioned with her tomorrow when we meet for coffee. Thanks.

  28. My sister wants to make a good impression at her new job and has been considering getting her clothes tailored. I liked how you pointed out talking with the tailor to see what they would recommend. It would be great to get their input based on their experience.

  29. It sure was helpful when you suggested checking out review sites like Yelp to find tailors with high review ratings. This is a good tip for me since I want a custom-made suit to be made for me. I will attend a special reunion party next month, and I want a suit that would fit me very well. Thanks for sharing this.

  30. says: BX Tailor

    By limiting heat leakage, curtains can help you maintain your home’s temperature better. Because curtains prevent cold air from entering the room and absorb solar heat, so lowering heat loss. So you’ll require a curtain alteration Watford service if your curtains are torn or the length is unsatisfactory. Using curtains in your bedroom will prevent dust from entering. When your windows and doors are open, dust particles are carried inside by the breeze. You can shut the windows and doors, but doing so will make the room feel stuffy and lack of ventilation. High-quality curtains have several advantages besides only enhancing the appearance of the room. We are a reputable curtain alterations Watford company.

  31. says: Elina Brooks

    The sundress I ordered online is a little too tight for me, so I am thinking of getting it altered to my right size soon since I don’t want to leave the dress in my closet simply because it’s the wrong fit. It was helpful advice when you told us to check out review sites for keywords like “tailor” and “alterations” and read reviews left behind by people who got their services before since this will help us find the right person for the job. I’ll be sure to follow what you said once I find a custom tailor to call regarding the alterations I need for my sundress soon.

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