7 Things You Should Take to the Tailor (And 4 Things You Shouldn't)

A brief guide to alterations

A good tailor is a godsend. (Guaranteed: You’ll look ten pounds lighter, just by slightly tweaking your clothes.) But a tailor is also not a miracle worker and can only help with a certain set of garments. Here’s what to take in--and what not to waste your money on.

What You Should Get Tailored

1. Collared shirts. For a tailor, this is the pièce de résistance. If you have busty button-gap troubles, buy a size larger and they can add darts down the front and streamline the sleeves.

2. Sheer blouses. You guys, a good tailor can line those with light fabric (in your skin tone) so the blouse is more solid, less see-through.

3. High-waisted trousers. So, your front pockets are adding unnecessary bulk to your hips and waist? A good tailor can stitch those down or remove them altogether.

4. Jeans. Yes, your tailor can top stitch the hem of your favorite flares. Just make sure you’ve tested out anyone new with less-expensive pieces first to ensure they’re legit.

5. Strappy dresses. PSA: All straps can be adjusted. And for any low-back or strapless numbers, talk to your tailor about sewing in bra cups. It can be done.

6. Suit jackets. Removing thin, modern, sewn-in shoulder pads can be tricky. Shortening the sleeves or taking in any boxy spots is not.

7. Any jacket, even coats. Unless it’s leather or a puffer, wonders can be worked. Don’t settle for ill-fitting anything, even your outerwear.

What You Should Skip

1. Jogger pants. It’s risky since altering the cuffs can affect the fit of the tapered leg--especially if elastic hems are involved. If you’re a shorty, buy these pants in petite sizing or don’t buy them at all.

2. Fit-and-flare skirts. The original proportions matter. Cutting off length--right before it nips at the thigh--matters. Make sure it fits to a T in the store.

3. Anything lace. OK, it can be altered, but it is going to be very tricky and very expensive. Ever altered a wedding dress? Yeah.

4. Sweater dresses. In most cases, knits are a no-no. (But massive sweaters of any kind are a yes-yes.)