Tinker, Tailor, Up to a Point

Photographer: Diego Merino/Gallery Stock

Photographer: Diego Merino/Gallery Stock

When you buy a suit off the rack, chances are you need a tailor to adjust it -- maybe have the pants shortened or the sleeves lengthened.

But occasionally you'll be told to take in the shoulders "a bit," or to have the lapels altered, or to change the inseam. And by the time all of the adjustments are made, it's a completely different suit -- less Prada, more The Tailor Who Works in Your Dry Cleaner's.

Loot spoke with Galina Leykina and Lena Murakhovsky, couture tailors at Madame Paulette on the Upper East Side. They recommend -- ready? -- that buyers use common sense.

"Sometimes it just doesn't work," says Leykina. "We have clients who have a middle-aged man's figure, but they want to wear those little skimpy suits. No matter what they do, it doesn't look right."

So what's a guy to do?

"When I go shopping with my husband," says Leykina, "the shoulders should be in the right place, and the sleeves should be flat from top to bottom." After that, she looks at how the suit sits on the body. If the back of the jacket pulls, it does not, and will not, fit.

But. (But!) What if it's a 90%-off sample sale at Jil Sander and they don't have the suit exactly in your size but they're basically giving it away? Better hope you're skinny. "You can always make a jacket smaller," Leykina says, "but you can't make it bigger."

Similarly, the pants should be the least of your worries. "If you're bigger on top," says Murakhovsky, "buy the size of the suit jacket. It's easier to re-cut the pants than to make the jacket larger."

So there's your guide: If buying a suit requires wishful thinking, do yourself a favor and put it down.

James Tarmy reports on arts and culture for Bloomberg Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News.

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