How to Judge a Tailor's Skills Before Work is Done

Nearly every adult needs a tailor, usually for alterations and repairs and sometimes more. But many people do not realize that tailoring quality varies. A tailor who is not good likely would do lousy repair work. Eventually he or she could ruin valued clothing, such as a suit, or lead the customer to make wasteful decisions and wear clothes that are unflattering. For example, tailoring clothing that should be replaced. Whereas a good tailor can guide on how things should fit and give feedback on recent purchases, in addition to doing work right. How to tell if a tailor will be good often is not easy, and hence this article was born.

Research of course
Ask acquaintances.
Search or ask online.
But most people do not use particularly good tailors and might have low standards.
Ask a quality store for a referral, if it does not have an in-store tailor - but some stores will not help.

Qualifications and Biases
No female tailor is likely to be above-average in working with men's clothing, unless she makes men's clothing.
A tailor who advertises as doing both men's and women's alterations probably is not great at men's tailoring, unless that tailor also makes men's clothing.
A tailor who does alterations is almost mandatory. And working in a cleaning establishment is something talented tailors almost never do.
In-store tailors do alterations and are rarely terrible or particularly good. They might rely on a salesperson's measurements, usually only work on items recently purchased there, and generally are disinclined from saying a store's item cannot be made to fit the customer well. Things might be better if at high-end retailer.
Bespoke/custom tailoring is a good sign, unless the custom-made clothing actually is outsourced. That should be suspected if prices are too good to be true (not counting the occasional old-fashioned pricing by elderly or immigrant tailors). Sometimes connections to other companies are revealed online. If the tailor does not mention the clothing is made elsewhere, that is a very bad sign. Unfortunately, custom tailor might not want to do small jobs on clothing bought elsewhere.
Aggressively pushing clothing ordered/sold there somewhat negates credibility.
If a tailor sells pre-made apparel, its quality, tastefulness, and pricing reflect on his qualifications.
A master tailor is basically an experienced custom tailor.
Writing articles is an indicator of advanced technical knowledge, experience, and more.
Tasteless clothing or ill-fitting suits worn badly by a tailor rightly reflect badly on him. But he need not wear fine clothing, as it might make more sense to do manual labor in old or cheap clothing
Pictures with celebrities are manipulative, as if claiming fame or equating fame with quality.
Price are not very reliable but sometimes useful (and often will be mentioned online). Very low - for example, in a big city, less than $20 for shortening sleeves or pants- suggests cutting corners, which can result in inferior-looking work.

Perfectionism and Testing for It
"All work is final" after items leave the premises is literally a bad sign. (Sometimes things need to be re-done.)
The tailor should inspect the entire item, including the insides of pockets, and in most cases wants it tried on before recommending anything (even if a rip is the complaint).
If alteration (not repair) is sought, a tailor should ask if a new-looking shirt or pair of pants has been washed several times.
Have pants that need to be shortened or are damaged at the bottom? Consult the tailor. If he folds over frayed pants legs without having the customer first try on the pants, they might be too short later. Where should the pants end - does the tailor discuss that in detail?
A button is missing from button-front part of a shirt - does the tailor offer to find a button that perfectly matches the others?
Have a shirt from heavier days or otherwise is too big in a few places? Bring it in. What about the shoulders? The price quoted is more than the value of the item? The tailor pushes in-store product instead?
Commentary on square shoulders or sloping shoulders is a good sign, because unfortunately some tailors ignore the fit problems that can cause.

He might be a skilled tailor, but he and the customer should speak the same language competently or there is much risk of miscommunication on how to tailor items.
The quality tailor listens to what a customer wants and shares his opinion - for example, comments on the fit, condition, and quality of current clothes.
Want work done fast? A professional resists being rushed and avoids making promises he might not keep.
If a perceived problem (such as excess sleeve length) has to be pointed out to the tailor, that is a warning sign.
Tailors stereotypically are grumpy and therefore expecting better might be expecting too much.

Other Pointers
Start small - the first item brought in to a new tailor should be just one, inexpensive piece.
One should not first go for an emergency (for example, before a new job interview), when the outcome might be especially important.
Jeans tailoring, leather alterations, reweaving (mostly for fixing large tears), and some other procedures are not for most tailors, even high-end custom tailors.
Yes, one can use a cheap tailor for easy jobs and a better tailor for bigger jobs, though sometimes the customer will underestimate the skill required for a particular alteration.

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