Reader Question: Suit Alterations

Answering questions on the blog today! Check them out on
Q: Hi Akil, I am in the market for a new suit but I don’t have the money to purchase a made-to-measure suit. What alterations can I do to make an off the rack suit fit like it was made-to-measure?

There are actually tons of things you can do to alter the fit of your suit. However, the real question is, how much are you willing to spend on those alterations? When I first became interested in menswear, I bought all of my suits from local thrift stores and then splurged on the tailoring (the suit I am wearing in the photo above was actually a thrift store purchase). However, I eventually got fed up with doing that and learned how to sew, seen here and here.
Fortunately, after spending hundreds of dollars on tailoring bills I realized that there are just some things that should not be altered. For instance, if the suit jacket does not fit well in the shoulders, leave it alone because that is a very expensive alteration. Also, if the jacket sleeves are baggy, you should also leave it alone because that can get very pricey as well. In other words, when buying a suit off the rack make sure that it is as close to your size as possible.
So in order to make an off the rack suit fit like it was made-to-measure, you should start with the jacket. Take in the sides of the jacket so that it can accentuate the silhouette (this is probably the most important alteration). Then you should shorten or lengthen the jacket sleeves, depending on the length of your arms. Some people prefer shorter jacket sleeves so that they can show off their watch. Next, you should taper your pants to give them a better fit, you can go with either a slim fit or a full cut, seen here. Lastly, you might also have to get your pants hemmed because most off the rack suits come with an unfinished hem. With all of those alterations, you suit should fit much better and it shouldn’t cost you more than $100.
As always, thank you for reading and I hope this helps!
Yours Truly,
Akil McLeod
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