Adventures in Alterations – Tailoring Down a Dress Shirt


Please note: I enjoy sharing my before and after alteration posts to give others an idea of what the magic of a good tailor can do for people who a) don’t necessarily fit today’s sizing conventions, or b) enjoy fashions that may not fit right off the rack (such as thrift shoppers and vintage lovers). Please use these posts only as a learning tool, and understand that leaving items in the (hopefully capable and skilled) hands of a tailor comes with its own risks, as well as rewards. Enjoy! =)

It’s been a long time since my last Adventures in Alterations! Luckily I have a pretty big transformation for you today. This shirt, paired with a crop sweater last week, had a pretty major overhaul at the tailor, which is reserved only for the pieces I have to have, but don’t come in the petite sizing my height dictates. This was one of those pieces for the following reasons:

Garment Type – I wear a collared button-up shirt almost every day, so I know this item fits my wardrobe and my lifestyle.

Special Details – The matching skinny tie really does it for me, but other details like the hidden button placket and two-button barrel cuffs were also big selling points.

Style – The print, color, fabric, and special details that still run classic are all right up my style-alley.

Sentimental Value – In this case, the designer is one I really love, and enjoy collecting pieces from, making this item just that much more special to me.

A rundown of the alterations it went through are below:


Shoulder – always a problem on me (on top of being so short, I’m also pretty narrow-shouldered), I wanted to feel really good in this shirt, so opted to get the shoulder narrowed to better fit my frame. This is a costly and complicated alteration, so my advice is to avoid it if you can, and only trust it to your more skilled tailors and on your more special pieces.

Sleeves – these obviously needed to be shortened, but I also wanted them slimmed because I didn’t like all that fabric flopping around. Slimmer sleeves also tend to elevate the look of a garment in general, and I usually have my tailor nip them in a little anyway.

Torso – was slimmed to better skim my shape.

Length – was shortened to better fit my proportions. The matching tie was also shortened a few inches.

I hope you found this helpful, or at the very least, interesting to see! As always, thank you for reading!

Join the Conversation


  1. says: jannyisms

    This is a drastic transformation and your tailor did amazing job! May I ask approximately how much the alteration cost for you? (Also, I’m visiting home in San Diego next month– if you have recommendations for some good tailors in the area I’d greatly appreciate it!) Thanks :)

    1. Hi Jannyisms! I’m not exactly sure on the cost because this shirt was part of a pretty big load I dropped off at the tailor, so I paid one lump sum for everything, and not for each piece individually. Given my past experience, I’d say the most expensive was narrowing the shoulder (which most people are lucky enough to be able to avoid) which probably ran about $40. The sleeves, torso and length shortening probably ran another $40ish all together. This a rough guess and please note alteration costs vary wildly depending on the tailor and city you live in (LA is a pretty pricey city, which is where my tailor is).

      As for San Diego tailors…my favorites are Kim’s Alterations in Encinitas (although I’ve never brought her shoulder alterations, but she’s done everything else nicely) and Francois at La Moda Fine Tailoring in Kearny Mesa (he does great shoulder/blazer work and tailors out of a menswear shop which can look intimidating the first time you go in). Their yelp pages are:

    1. says: AlterationsNeeded

      Hi Kim! I’m not entirely sure because this shirt was part of a large pile I dropped off at the tailor and I paid for it all in one lump sum when I picked them up. My best guess from past experience would break down as so: $40-ish for the shoulder narrowing alteration, $40-ish for the sleeves, torso and length alterations. Again, this is a rough estimate, and prices on tailoring can vary wildly based on a number of factors, including what city you live in.

  2. says: Emily

    Do you have any suggestions for finding a food tailor? I’m in DC and it seems the options are dry cleaner tailors or the very few stand alone who are really expensive. Thank you!

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