How Much Should A Tailor's Service Cost For Alterations?
How much should a tailor shop cost?
Men all over the world are getting their clothing tailored, watching my videos, really excited, but they're like, “You know, is this guy overcharging me?” They never ask if they're being undercharged.
It's always, “Am I paying too much? Can I save a couple of bucks here?” I really think that that's the wrong mentality to take.
You really don't know how to negotiate if you ask me because price is only one aspect. There are so many other ways. And so, let me teach you how to work with a tailor.
How To Work With A Tailor
1. Treat Them With Respect
Treat them as a human being, not a person that you feel you've got — not a used car salesman, and I've got friends who are used car salesmen, but really don't go in there with — if you have to go in there, if you really have to confront them, maybe you're at the wrong tailor shop.
Really, you want to have somebody that you can trust, and I'll tell you a horror story.
I know a tailor and she really has certain customers who are just so picky and she doesn't really like them because they don't treat her like a human being.
They'll ask her to adjust a quarter of an inch and she'll say, “Give me two weeks.” She said she's going to get to it in two weeks.
What she does, she hangs it up and then two weeks later, they come back and they try it on and she hasn't done a thing to it.
Normally, because your body will actually adjust depending on what you eat and how much you exercise, they'll say, “Oh yeah, well, this feels good. I must have gained some pounds because it feels a little bit tight.”
She's just back there, smirking, laughing because she didn't adjust a darn thing, and really that's because they didn't have a good relationship. You do not want that.
You want someone you can trust, somebody that you don't have to bring in a measuring tape and double check their work, so treat them like a human being. Treat them with respect, number one.
2. Bring Them Business
Your price is going to go down the more work you give this person. Your ability to negotiate is going to go up the more work you bring this person.
If you bring them a single shirt and you want one button replaced, of course, we're going to have to charge you a bit more because you're eating up quite a bit of my time, just the fact of me taking this, categorizing it, the risk I take of something happening to this shirt.
I have to charge — I don't do this right now, but you could expect anywhere from a $5 to a $15 charge for one button.
If you're getting all the buttons on this shirt replaced and actually you're bringing in ten shirts. You're going to find it's going to go into the $15 for one button and you may be paying $1 to $2 a button, perhaps even less if you bring in your own buttons.
Because you are bringing in a volume of work, it's easier for us to be able to look at it and say, “Okay, I could hand this off to one of my assistants,” and boom, boom, boom, it's still going to be profitable for me and I can charge a lower price, so always bring them work.
It doesn't have to just be your business. You can look to, “Hey, can I ask for some business cards?” and say, “I've got three guys in my office who are looking for tailors. Let me give them your card,” or, “I'm going to refer them to you.”
If you bring somebody that kind of business, you're going to be treated like gold because they recognize somebody who makes them money.
3. Tip your tailor
The other tip is dealing with respect, but there's nothing wrong with tipping your tailor. I'm not talking about coming in like a bartender and giving him a few dollars cash. What I'm talking about is if it's a woman, if it's a seamstress, perhaps finding out — I've got a good friend and she is Russian.
Nobody remembers International Women's Day. It's a big Russian, Ukrainian holiday. I'm married to a Ukrainian, so of course I know it.
You know what I do? I make sure that she has flowers on that day because no other man in Wisconsin is going to know about this holiday. That's a huge holiday for her.
I know that because I've gotten to know her and it's something that I realize is a trigger. It forms a relationship.
That's what relationships are, giving, and you don't expect to take back what people are going to give. It's the law of reciprocity, so find out with your tailor.
Perhaps he's really into men's suits coming out of Savile Row. You know what? You can pick up a used Savile Row book that talks about suits for 10 or 15 bucks on Amazon.
I'm telling you, you bring him that book as a gift, he is going to remember you and you are going to be treated like gold.
When you need that suit fixed in 24 hours for your wedding, you can go to him and he is going to bend over backwards because you are more than a customer. You are a friend.
Having said all that, let me get down to exact costs. This is going to depend on where you're at. If you're in Hong Kong, you're surrounded by tons of tailors. Pretty much anybody can sew, it seems like it, in Hong Kong and you're going to be able to get things at rock bottom prices especially if you go to Kowloon.
If you are in New York City, you can expect to pay a lot more. In San Francisco, expect to pay a lot more. London, expect to pay more because simply the cost of doing business in those cities is very high, and the number of skilled tailors, yeah, there are, but the demand is very high in their time, and just the cost for their storefront and everything.
Dress Shirt Alterations
Let's start with the easiest item to have any alterations done on. I think it's going to be the shirt in the trousers. Really, you don't have to have as much skill. The jacket is always going to be more expensive because you have to have more skill when altering a jacket, but let's start with the shirt.
If you want to get that shirt darted, you could expect to spend approximately $20, and again, I would say give or take probably 25% to 50%, depending on where you're at. I know that's a pretty wide range, but $20 is what I would expect to pay.
If you want to have an entire shirt slimmed up, that's going to be anywhere from $25 to probably $35. If you want to have the sleeve shortened, I've seen it as low as $10, but normally that's around $15 to $20.
If you want to have your trousers brought in or let out, you just had quite a bit to eat over Thanksgiving, expect to spend $25, sometimes a little bit more.
It depends on how complicated your trousers are and where they're going to let the material out on it, how much material you have in the back.
Let's say you want to have those legs slimmed up, the trousers that you have there just really flaring right there on the legs. Well, there's a lot of sewing involved in opening up the entire leg, both sides with a pair of trousers.
In addition, he may also open up the inside so you're looking at $35 to $40 to have the leg tapered.
Let's talk about the bottom, having it hemmed. I would say around 20 bucks is what you should expect to spend, although a lot of these alterations, guys, make sure whenever you buy something that you have it done there in the store and hold their feet to the fire.
A lot of times, store tailors, they will not do a great job because there's little incentive to it. They don't always deal with the customer, so your information that you're conveying to the salesman is not always getting to the tailor exactly right.
If you can't try to meet with the tailor, to make sure that he's looking at this or she's looking at it. Don't be afraid to ask them to go back and to get this right because this is when it's not going to cost you anything versus when you go to a tailor who has their own shop.
The jacket, if you're going to have anything broadened here in the waist, expect probably around 50 bucks. That's what I expect to have once they start opening in and around this area. Now let's say you want to have the sleeves shortened or lengthened.
That's going to cost you approximately $25 to $35 to have those sleeves shortened or lengthened. The exception to this is if you have working buttonholes. Now, you can usually adjust about half an inch on working buttonholes and no one's really going to notice too much. You'll notice, but it's not that big of a deal, guys. But if it needs to be more than that, they're going to actually have to take the sleeves off the jacket and reattach them.
That's a very expensive procedure. Expect at least, I would say, $90. Larger cities, you can see like $120, so that is an expensive thing, so be careful if you've got working buttonholes. That could be a pretty expensive procedure.
Shortening the jacket, anywhere from $30 to $40, and if you want to have any major alterations done on a jacket, let's say you want to have something adjusted with the lapels.
Actually, sometimes on the back of a jacket, you have a bit of an excess material back there, that actually is a pretty easy fix, by the way, and that would cost you 30 bucks, 40 bucks.
But if you want to have major heart surgery done on your jacket, which is basically adjusting the shoulders, bringing those in a bit, or something where they're actually reattaching the front of the jacket to the back of the jacket.
That's usually when you have a posture issue, that's going to be a $100 plus and it depends on the skill of the tailor. Make sure that he can actually build jackets when they start doing stuff like that.
That's why these alterations are usually more expensive, is you're getting a more experienced tailor.
Not anybody can do this type of stuff, and at that point when you start spending $200 to $300 in alterations on a single piece of clothing, that's when you may want to start considering getting something new unless it is a high-quality jacket that you'd pay $1500 or $2000.
Hopefully you wouldn't have paid that much and not gotten it built properly.
Let's say you get something vintage or you get something handed down to you and you want it. It was built for your father, but he was 45 or 50 when he had it built.
You're 25 and you want to get the posture adjusted a bit, then perhaps it would be worth getting that done, but make sure the tailor can look at this and he can envision what it's going to look like because sometimes when you adjust that, it actually changes the length of the jacket and you want to make sure it's the right length for you.
Let me hit on that because that's what you pay for when you go to a high-quality tailor, it's not just the alteration work, but the vision that he could actually look at your clothing and he can see not where it's at, but where it can be.