3 Common Alterations for Men’s Clothing

As a menswear consultant who has worked with successful men all over the world, I’ve learned that there are 3 common alterations for men’s clothing – no matter your body type, location, or profession.

These common clothing alterations can immediately take your look to the next level and are common for tailors.

In this article I’m going to share the 3 most common clothing alterations that my menswear clients need.

Why men need alterations

I believe that you can create a system for your style to make it more fun, approachable and easy to manage. In my  3 step system, FIT is one of the components to concentrate on and invest in.

So why do you need to focus on getting the right fit?

By investing in getting the perfect fit, you’ll instantly take your look from boring to wow.

You’ll look more put together, in shape and confident. Your style will support your message – NOT distract from it.

Why it’s common for men to get alterations

As a menswear consultant, I find many of my clients are under the impression that clothing should fit them off the rack. 

This is not true!

First, the measurements used for say, a size medium, have changed over time. This is called vanity sizing– where the same size becomes bigger overtime. 

Second, it’s impossible to create unique garments for every individual male’s body type that may possibly shop/purchase from them.

So what retailers do is use fit models as an ‘average’ of what their typical shopper is to fit the most body types.

Now, every retailer has their own fit model that they use. That’s why when you buy something from brand 1, you may not be the same size in brand 2. 

Typically, American Brands fit ‘bigger’ than European brands. 

Now, let’s dive into the 3 most common alterations that my menswear clients need.

ALTERATION 1. Pant Length

Getting the pant length tailored for men’s trousers is very common.

When deciding what pant length is best for you, there are many options (you can read more about pant length in my post about how long men’s jeans should be).

man getting pants hemmed

For my menswear consulting clients, I always recommend doing a pant length which is a no break or quarter break (depending on the pant).

This reads modern, looks put together and sharp. 

Depending on if you wear flats or shoes with a slight heel, a no-break or quarter break can give you the versatility to alternate between shoes. 

If you’re unsure of what length is best for you, remember to start longer. 

You can always get another alteration from there if you want to go shorter but you can’t go back once it’s hemmed shorter.

ALTERATION 2. Sleeve Length

baggy sleeve vs hemmed sleeves

The sleeve length is one that is common for any top- including button-down shirts (long or short sleeves), jackets and coats.

With the sleeve length, you’ll want to make sure that you get the alteration while you’re trying it on, don’t guess what the sleeve length should be.

man getting sleeve hemmed

Typically, my menswear clients need a 1-3 inch sleeve reduction. 

You’ll want it to hit right at your wrist bone so use that as your guide. If you are getting a top that has buttons, the tailor may need to remove or move up the buttons, which is normal.

ALTERATION 3. Taking in a top

dart in back of blazer

Another common alteration for my male styling clients is to get a top taken in because it’s too big on them. This usually happens if the brand runs too big and we want the top to be more fitted to their body.

This alteration can take place on a button-down dress shirt (long or short sleeve), jackets and coats.

woman getting darts in back of blazer

When you have on your top, your tailor will usually put 1-2 darts in the back.

A dart is when there are folds (or tucks coming to a point), which are sewn into a garment to give shape to the garment and flatter the wearer’s body.


Next Level Wardrobe offers image consulting and personal styling for men. Read more about our men’s image consulting or contact us to start your styling journey.

Picture of Cassandra Sethi

Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created her business, Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals. Cassandra’s been featured in Greatist, Livestrong and NY Mag.


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