What a bargain! The cashmere jacket youve always wanted, at a fraction
of the usual price. Too bad its not a perfect fit. Not to worry. Fitting
clothes from stores that dont offer alteration services or charge high
fees for them is just one way good tailors can help you look your best
and save money. A tailor can also alter clothes when styles change or you
lose or gain weight; repair torn or worn garments; and customize garments
that you cant find on the rack. Some will also help with other sewing
jobs, like making curtains or pillow covers.
When choosing a tailor or dressmaker, its a good idea to ask to see examples
of completed work. Unfortunately, most shops have few samples on hand,
and examining samples on hangers tells you nothing about how well they
fit their owners. You can ask for names of past customers, but such a request
might be considered unusualand the shop owner will hardly refer you to
customers who were dissatisfied.
Weve simplified the checking-out process for you by surveying area CHECKBOOK
and Consumer Reports subscribers for their ratings of local tailors and
dressmakers. Our Ratings Tables list shops for which we received 10
or more survey responses. We asked customers to rate the shops inferior,
adequate, or superior on several aspects of service, including doing
service properly and starting and completing service promptly. In general,
the shops on our Ratings Tables received rather high ratings compared
to other types of companies we evaluate. (For more information on our
customer survey and other research methods, click here.)
Keep in mind that while all the shops on our Ratings Tables do alterations,
many dont actually make suits or dresses. And at some area shops (especially
those connected with drycleaners), tailors are on-site only part-time or
just stop by to pick up and drop off garments.
Of course, youll also want to consider prices. To compare shops prices,
our shoppers called each of the shops that were evaluated in our last full,
published article and, without revealing their affiliation with CHECKBOOK,
attempted to obtain prices for eight tailoring jobs. We used those prices
to calculate each shops price index score, reported on our Ratings Tables.
Our price index scores are intended to show how a shops prices compared
to the average prices at all surveyed shops for the same mix of items.
The price index scores are calculated so that a price index of $100 is
about average; a score of $110 means prices about 10 percent above average;
a score of $90 about 10 percent below average.
Price is not very important for small jobs. But for larger jobsalterations
of multiple garments or a major sewing job on a single garmentit pays
to compare prices and to travel a few extra miles for a lower price.
Table 1 shows the low, average, and high prices at the shops listed on
our Ratings Tables for the eight jobs we priced. As you can see, we
found a $140 difference between the lowest quote and the highest quote
for the highest cost job, fully lining a mens overcoat.
Table 1Illustrative Low, Average, and High Prices Quoted by Shops for
|Description||Low price||Average price||High price|
|Hem women’s pants (no cuffs)||$5.00||$12.22||$20.00|
|Take in waist of women’s pants||$7.00||$18.99||$30.00|
|Take up sleeves of men’s blazer||$12.00||$29.24||$45.00|
|Hem and cuff men’s slacks||$6.00||$16.12||$25.00|
|Take in torso/side seams of men’s suit jacket||$10.00||$34.69||$45.00|
|Fully reline men’s overcoat with satin||$60.00||$112.09||$200.00|
|Replace zipper on women’s skirt||$10.00||$20.89||$35.00|
|Let down and re-hem women’s dress with a full skirt||$8.00||$23.31||$35.00|
|1For each job, shops were given additional, detailed specifications.|
Keep in mind that it might be most cost-effective to have clothes altered
at the store where you buy them. Almost all department stores offer tailoring
services, as do a number of clothing stores that sell dress clothes. For
the most part, alteration services are free if you pay full price for the
garment; if you buy the garment on sale or at a discount store, alteration
fees are likely to apply. But these fees, we have found, are usually comparable
to the average prices at stand-alone tailoring shops.