Lockdown has changed many things; and for most this also includes our body shape. Some of you will have used a change in routine to get fitter, while others may have piled on a few extra kilograms. Whatever category you fall into, there’s a chance that this will have an effect on the way your clothing fits — in particular your tailored suits.

As weddings are postponed and many of us continue to work from home, it may be a while before you start wearing tailoring again. Therefore; it’s inevitable that by the time you’re back in your formalwear, suits may not fit quite how they used to.

Suit alterations offer a cost-effective way to get your tailoring back on track. That’s why we’ve created this handy guide which tells you everything you need to know about suit alterations and what can be done to change the way that your suit fits.

How to Alter a Suit

While some minor alterations (such as shortening the length of your trousers) can be carried out at home, it‘s best to leave alterations to your local tailor. Below are the main ways you can alert the fit of your favourite suit.

  • Lengthen or shorten jacket sleeves
  • Make jacket sleeves slimmer
  • Chip jacket shoulders
  • Take in waist of jacket
  • Taper trouser legs
  • Make trousers wider
  • Hem trousers

Lengthen or Shorten Jacket Sleeves 

The sleeves of a suit should fall to the wrist, and show around a quarter-of-an-inch of shirt cuff beneath. If you find you find your sleeves aren’t finishing where they should be, this can be easily fixed by an alterations tailor. They will be able to lengthen or shorten the cuffs by about an inch.

Make Jacket Sleeves Slimmer

It’s not as simple as tapering your trousers, but your tailor can make the sleeves of your jacket slimmer. It's a little more complicated (as there is usually lining to deal with), but it’s a great way to instantly improve the silhouette of your suit.

‘Chip’ Jacket Shoulders

While a suit jacket’s shoulders can technically be extended or reduced, messing with them is not recommend. It’s major tailoring surgery and even expert tailors are hesitant to carry out such work; it’s a difficult job, and there is no guarantee that the integrity of the jacket will be maintained. Avoid altogether if possible.

Take in Jacket Waist

If you’ve lost weight or just have broad shoulders with a small waist, this alteration is perfect for transforming the overall look of your suit. Your tailor will take in the jacket through the side-seams, making sure it fits perfectly to your frame. Be careful not to go too slim, though. Remember, you still need to be able to move comfortably. Aim for being able to fit a closed fist between your jacket and shirt when the top button is closed.

Taper Trouser Legs

Tapering legs is a straightforward way to change trousers from baggy to fitted. The process involves slimming the trouser leg down from the mid-thigh/knee area to the break — getting rid of excess fabric and creating a new seam that sits closer to the body.

Make Trousers Wider

This may not be possible with all trousers, but your tailor will be able to tell you if it can be done or not. It’s a great option for those who may have gained a little lockdown weight, or if you generally struggle to find trousers that are wide enough to fit without straining around your thighs.

Hem Trousers

Whether or not you choose to hem your trousers will depend on how long you want them to be. We suggest opting for a very small break. The 'break' of a trouser is the degree to which the material bags on the top of your shoes. In an ideal world, your trousers should hang clean down to the bridge of your foot and sit neatly on top of your shoes.

Before deciding whether your suit needs altering or not, take a look at our guide on how your suit should fit.

You can also shop our full range of men’s tailored suits.