ASK DAN: Suit Surgery Edition

February 18th, 2016

Now that we’re officially in the tailoring business, we’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding proper fit, suit alterations, and wether or not “it’s time” to step up to tailor-made clothing.

As an online tailoring resource, we always love fielding these types of questions and learning about our reader’s individual fit problems.

So fire away!


    Converting Double-Breasted to Single-Breasted

    Q: Dan, a couple years ago my father bought me a Corneliani double-breasted jacket. Beautiful piece. It fits well in the shoulders but, unfortunately, it doesn’t close because of my love handles. My question to you is; can I convert this piece into a single-breasted jacket? It’s a 6×2 and I would be able to close it with a 2-button front… Is this possible for a good tailor?

    A: In the world of suit surgery, this is quadruple bypass with a John Travolta face-off operation to boot. Is it possible? Maybe. Will it function properly, last the test of time, and look natural? Definitely not. There’s some fundamental differences to the pattern of a DB jacket; the front panels are cut square at the bottom rather than “cut-away”, there’s typically a buttonhole on the right-side panel (where you would need to move the buttons), the lapels and collar are cut to sit at a different angle… Ultimately, if it can’t be let-out enough from the side seam and back seams, my advise is to save on the cost of these frankenstein alterations and buy yourself a jacket that accommodates your body, not the other way around. Cheers mate.

    Short & Stocky Problems

    Q: I am a short guy (5’4) but I’m also a fairly stocky/muscular guy. Because of my height I normally have to stick to a 38S, even though I have closer to a 42″ chest. Even on a 38S, I run into the usual problems for short guys; arms too long, armholes too low, bad should divots, etc. On the occasion that I do find a jack that actually fits me in all those areas, they ALWAYS fail the hug test. IE, the jacket looks great when my arms are at my side, but if I try and put both arms forward I can’t make it higher than 45 degrees. It gets too tight across the upper back and I can really feel it around the upper bicep area. Is this a thing that can be fixed with tailoring (letting out the upper back, perhaps)?

    A: You’re wearing a jacket that’s four sizes too small in the chest just to accommodate your height? Damn, that’s tough man, sorry. This is the brutal unfairness of the off-the-rack clothing market, where garments are cut for “average” body types, whatever that means. Given your level of restriction (can’t even lift your arms?!), I don’t think alterations are going to make a huge difference since there won’t be enough fabric to let-out. My advice is to have something made for you, because you need something closer to a 41XS, probably with a number of individual adjustments for range of motion. In the long-run, not only will you save on the cost of ineffective alterations, but you’ll finally have garments that are flattering, comfortable and won’t get “blown out” pre-maturely. Let me know if I can help.

    Dropping Weight & Going Down a Size

    Q: Hi Dan. Last year I bought a few jackets that fit me perfectly, a few months later I decided to slim down my body and lost about 26 lbs. Now these great-fitting jackets are not so great fitting since I’ve gone down from a EU size 48 to a EU size 46. Is it possible to bring these jackets to a tailor and slim them down a size or would that be too much work and too expensive?

    A: When guys experience weight loss, especially this rapidly, my first question is always: do you (realistically) plan to keep all the weight off? It’s always good to get to a stable body weight before chopping up a bunch of your clothes. Assuming your answer is yes (and I hope it is), 26 lbs can be tricky, as this amount can be on the “cusp”. It often depends on where and how your body lost the weight. If 80% of it was in your belly and hips, then you can likely re-cut your garments fairly well. If now your entire frame has changed (shoulders, biceps, neck, etc), you have several more-complicated alterations to make. My advice would be to take your garments to a quality tailor, along with an image of how you want them to look on you, and ask what the price tag would be… If he plans to recut the shoulders, collar, armholes, sleeves, etc. it’s not going to be cheap. Depending on the quality of these garments, you may be better off giving that new body a new wardrobe…


    Thanks, as always, for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier

    Photography by Alex Crawford.