So, you’re looking to get some clothing alterations done on a garment that doesn’t quite have the prefect fit. You know what you’d like changing, but the question of ‘how much should the alterations cost’ still looms.
Alterations cost from $14.53 for easy operations, such as trousers hemming, to $96.16 for complex procedures, such as adjusting a jacket’s shoulder. Though most typical alterations fall within the $20 – $50 bracket, experienced tailors may charge more for their experience and speciality.
It may have looked like I’ve plucked these numbers out of thin air though; a lot of sources provide ‘estimations’ for alterations prices.
But to give you an even more accurate answer to your specific alteration query, I’ve compiled together a list of the most popular clothing alterations, and some costing information based off of the price list of up to 30 tailors, to help you gauge if you’re getting good value for money.
Read on to find out if you’re getting a good deal for your alterations, and why you may be paying (or want to pay) a higher, or lower, price than average.
How Much Do Alterations Cost?
As a super high level guide, the range of average prices for all types of alterations across the board is $14.53 – $96.16, with some vendors charging higher or lower than this bracket.
And, for those interested, the average alteration costs $32.50.
But these are just random numbers – below you can find the specific garment you want to get adjusted, and some information about the pricing.
- The ‘average’ number takes into account all of the prices.
- The ‘median’ number does a better job of discounting atypically expensive prices.
How Much Do Suit Alterations Cost?
Though most of the tailoring costs specifically mentioned suit jacket, blazers, and trousers, most of the prices could probably be applied to other items, such as casual jackets and chinos.
Regular alterations tailors usually don’t offer alterations on leather jackets, which require a specialist.
How Much Do Jacket Alterations Cost?
|/||Taking in / Letting Out the Chest (Side Seams)||Taking in / Letting Out the Chest (Back Centre Seam)||Jacket length Shortening||Take In Jacket Shoulder|
Taking In / Letting Out the Chest Via Side Seams ($41.10) – Your tailor can take in your suit jacket, blazer or sports coat from the side seams, which gives it a more shaped and Italian look. Because there’s two seams, it, on average, costs slightly more than the alternative.
Taking In / Letting Out the Chest Via Centre Seam ($37.81) – Your tailor can take in, or let out, your jacket from the back centre seam, for a more ‘straight’ look, compared to the shaped side seam method.
Jacket Length Shortening ($53.30) – An experienced seamstress or tailor can shorten your jacket length by about “1 before the proportions and placements of the pockets start to look odd. Because this alteration requires more experience and precision than others, it generally commands a higher price.
Take in Jacket Shoulder ($96.16) – Someone who really knows what they’re doing can theoretically take in your jacket’s shoulders for an average price of $96.16. It’s a difficult and costly operation, so should try to be avoided.
How Much Should Sleeves Alterations Cost?
|/||Jacket Sleeves Shortening (From the Cuff)||Jacket Sleeves Shortening From the Crown||Jacket Sleeves Lengthening (From the Cuff)||Jacket Sleeve Tapering||Reduce/Enlarge Armhole|
Shorten Jacket Sleeves (From the Cuff) ($32.15) – Most tailors can easily shorten your jacket sleeves from the cuff. However, if you have a ‘surgeon’s cuff’, which has working button holes, if you need any more than about 0.5″ of fabric taken up, you will have to have your jacket shortened from the crown.
Shorten Jacket Sleeves (From the Crown) ($84.39) – In cases where shortening from the sleeve is not possible, tailors can take your jacket sleeve off, and reattach it at a higher point. As this can be a difficult operation, it can command a high price depending on your tailor, with some charging as much as $170. However, not taking into account these boutique tailors, you can expect to pay around $64.56.
Lengthen Jacket Sleeves ($33.98) – Provided there is extra fabric in the jacket’s cuff, most jackets can be lengthened by about 0.5-1″ without consequence. Some fabrics, such as pure linen, will likely leave a permanent crease line where the jacket sleeve used to end, and if you extend the sleeve too much, the buttons on the sleeves may appear too high. However, a lot of length can go a long way in the sleeves.
Taper Sleeves ($43.66) – Your tailor can take in and taper your jacket sleeves to give you a more tailored appearance. However, done wrong, this can produce nasty wrinkling through the sleeves, and discomfort when bending your elbow. Make sure that you take this one to an experienced and trusted tailor or seamstress.
Reduce/Enlarge Armhole ($16) – This alteration was only offered by one of the analysed vendors, and for a surprisingly low cost of $16. However, due to the need to take off the arm and work with the little fabric there is available, it is a difficult alteration that should be avoided.
How Much Should Trouser or Pant Alterations Cost?
Tailors sometimes have different prices for regular trousers and jeans alterations. The following data shows prices specific to ‘trousers’, though there are many overlaps with jeans.
|/||Standard Trouser Hem||Cuffed Trousers Hem||Take In/Let Out Seat||Take In/Let Out Waistband||Full Taper (4 Seams)||Half Taper (2 Seams)||Upper Leg Tapering||Lower Leg Tapering|
Standard Trouser Hem ($14.53) – Most tailors can perform basic pant hemming for an average price of $14.53.
Cuffed Pant Hem ($19.95) – Like with normal hemming, most tailors can hem your trousers with a cuff for an average price of $19.95. The added price accounts for the slightly higher experienced needed to create a cuffed finish.
Take In/Let Out Seat ($21.75) – Tailors can take in your trouser seat to make it less saggy, or, if there’s enough extra fabric in the seam, let it out to make it less restrictive.
Take In/Let Out Waistband ($23.72) – Your waistband can be reduced or made larger, depending on the geometry, construction and if there’s any extra fabric left in the waistband. Taking in the waistband too much may alter the position of the pockets.
Trouser Tapering Types and Cost
Despite the commonality of the alteration, different tailors charge different prices for different types of trouser tapering.
Full Taper (4 Seams) ($32.53) – A standard taper of the whole leg, from thigh to ankle. This includes, but don’t necessarily have to be, tapering from all four trouser seams, the inside and outside of each leg. This full taper approach is used when there is a lot of extra fabric, and taking in from just the inside seams still leaves the trousers too baggy.
Half Taper (2 Seams) ($27.18) – Again, tapering of the whole leg, from thigh to ankle, but only from two seams, usually the two inside seams of the trouser. This is usually enough for most trousers that only need a little bit of tapering.
Upper Leg Tapering ($20.47) – Some tailors separately charge for the tapering of the top and bottom half of the leg. This would usually include the fabric knee up, so the thigh area.
Lower Leg Tapering ($28.00) – Conversely, lower leg tapering includes the trouser fabric from the knee down.
How Much Should Shirt Alterations Cost?
|/||Shorten Sleeves||Shorten Shirt Length||Take in Side Seams||Take in Body With Darts||Narrow Shoulders|
Shorten Sleeves ($25.37) – Dress shirt cuffs can only be shortened. This alteration is slightly more expensive on average than you might think due to the need to preserve the cuff vent and plaquette.
Shorten Shirt Length ($20.26) – Tailors can easily hem a shirt to make it shorter, or change the finish from a curved, to straight cut.
Take in Side Seams ($28.86) – Taking in the side seams leaves the back free from aesthetic intrusion, unlike with the installation of darts. As there’s more precision involved, this operation generally commands a higher price tag.
Take in Body With Darts ($17.77) – Most tailors can sew darts into the back of your shirt for a relatively low price, which physically ‘suck in’, and hold excess fabric, to make the shirt more fitted.
Narrow Shoulders ($23.10) – A surprising amount of tailors offer shoulder narrowing for shirts. Though possible, this should preferably be avoided, as it can be difficult, and have varying results.
What Factors Affect Tailoring Cost and The Prices of Alterations?
So, I’ve talked about the cost of tailoring and alterations. But, why is there sometimes a huge range in cost, what does it mean, and how can you get good quality alterations for a cheaply as possible?
This next section discusses some of the factors that make up the cost of alterations at a certain vendor, and why some may be charging more or less than average.
- Physical Location – Generally, alterations tailors in cities charge slightly higher than those located in more rural areas. To add to this, tailors in countries with higher GDPs will usually charge more than those with lower GDPs. For example, a tailor in New York will generally charge more than a tailor in rural Hungary.
- Affluence – However, an even more concrete determining factor is the affluence of the area that the tailor is located in. For example, a tailor in an affluent part of Budapest will likely charge more than a tailor in a less well off area of New York.
Experience of the Tailor
Experienced tailors can command a higher price, as they generally produce a better alteration result.
In my opinion, this is worth the price – I’d rather go to someone with experience who will be more likely to provide a better result, even if a less experienced tailor can do it for cheaper.
Over time, if you are working with an independent tailor, you will likely build a relationship with them, and they could potentially lower their prices for you after a while for being a loyal customer.
Sometimes, large scale tailoring operations are able to provide a lower price as they have more staff, and quicker turnaround times.
However, though you may save a bit of money, you can lose the benefit of direct communication and maximum care being put into your garment.
Type of Garment
In some circumstances, the details of the garment can increase the price.
For example, shortening a jacket sleeve that doesn’t have working buttons will be cheaper than shortening one with working buttons, as it requires a different method.
Also, certain types of fabric may be harder to work with, such as velvet or a fine silk, which requires more attention and experience.
It’s easy to look at the averages provided above and discount anyone charging above them, but as you can see, there may be a good reason for it, such as
- Their experience
- The fact that your garment is harder to alter
However, we can look at the other factors that don’t necessarily affect the job, such as location…
How to Use This Information
You can use all the above to tell if you’re paying more than you should for a certain service.
For example, if the resulting alteration isn’t quite what you were expecting, but you’re paying above average for that type of tailoring, you may be paying too much.
Here, you may want to consider going to a more experienced tailor, who may change the same, but give you a better result.
- Decide on alteration.
- Check average price.
- Is the cost I’m quoted much greater than the average price?
- Have previous alterations come back well?
- If yes – Stick with your current tailor. The extra cost is likely mainly for experience.
- If no – I would recommend looking for a different tailor, as you may be able to get a better result for the same price.
Of course, other items such as your location will factor into it too, so you have to play it by ear.
Finding a Good Tailor With a Low Cost
If you’re looking for a cheaper alterations tailor, while retaining the experience and outcome, I would consider:
- Looking at a less affluent area to avoid unnecessary mark-up.
- Building a relationship with a independent organisation to potentially get a loyalty discount.
All in all, keep in mind all of the above factors when cross referencing your costs with the average. Higher than average prices doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a better result.
So, now you know how much around 30 tailors charge for tailoring and alterations!
Though the pricing information is a good guide, you may be charged more or less, due to the other factors mentioned above – and this is okay, as long as you’re getting a result that you’re happy with!
All prices in USD. Some data has been converted from GBP to USD at an exchange rate of 1:1.3669 on 12/01/2021.