Tips on How To Talk To a Tailor

How to talk to your tailor

Have you ever decided you wanted to buy a custom made suit, but felt like you were not getting it in your head? It can be difficult considering the loads of option that are laid out before us as soon as we walk through the tailor's door, but the journey is worth the reward. The problem is, most people aren't sure how to speak with the kind of professional that we don't interact with on a regular basis, and it's important to learn how to communicate effectively if you want the best for yourself.

Know What You Want

First, don't wait until you get there to start making decisions. Your tailor can't do everything for you, so you'll want to have a few ideas already in mind. Do you have a favourite suit, custom made or not? If not, flip through a menswear magazine and find pictures of different styles and designs that reflects you. The more complete the picture you can provide for your tailor of what kind of look you expect, the more likely it is that you'll receive it.

If that doesn't help, then ask your tailor for samples. Sometimes we need to see things and be able to feel it to really know whether or not it suit our body frame. Ask your tailor about the different fabrics from which you can choose. If you're not sure of what kind of fabric you're interested in, don't hesitate to ask him for his suggestion. Remember, he fits suits for all kinds of men.

If you're still feeling on your own, be courteous and polite, and ask him for a short lesson. Ask him if there are specific shades and hues that would accentuate your skin, or even ask him if you have an atypical body frame that might befit an atypical suit if you're in the mood for something special. Ask, ask, ask.

One thing to keep in mind is that some tailors specialize in different types of suits. Do some research, or take a trip around town to find someone who you can work with. Ask them what they do best, and decide whether or not their finest job will work for you.
Tips on How To Talk To Your Tailor

Learning The Language

Hopefully you've given your tailor a basic idea of what you want in your suit already, but there are many nuanced details to being fitted for a suit that you just can't convey through pictures and preparation alone. This is where it's helpful to actually know a little bit about your tailor's profession, and hopefully surprise him with your knowledge of the language he's used to. He'll appreciate the effort if nothing else, and it should show through in his work.

You might be very surprised how much there is to learn, but try to take a look and familiarize yourself with some of the terms you don't recognize. Rayon, scye, optima, luster, melton, interlinings. They might all sound very foreign, but your tailor will understand them all without blinking. Mention one or two uncommon terms, and you might just impress him.

Don't hesitate to show him where exactly you want your trouser hem to break. You should be able to tell him what kind of buttons, cuffs, and collars you're interested in. Have you decided on traditional lapels, pockets (or hidden pockets), and vents? Or would you like something that sets you apart from the rest? Let your tailor know, and ask him for his advice.

Of course, there are other words and phrases that you might want to become familiar with if you decide that you want to have a conversation about the measurements made. Those won't change, but you can give your tailor a reasonable idea of how you'd like the suit to present your form. Bringing in or out, shortening or lengthening, tapering and hemming, etc. Knowing how you want to look is most important.

It doesn't matter whether it's your first time looking for a custom suit or if you've done it a dozen times before. There is always more to learn, more to find, and more to experience when dealing with a professional tailor. In order to have one of his finest work (i.e your tailor), and your best made find, do your homework and make sure you make yourself comfortable communicating in a way he understands.

Article written by Matt Panella. Matt works with Balani, a custom clothier based in Chicago.

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