How Much Can Your Garment Be Altered by a Tailor?

While taking your custom jackets and pants to your local tailor is a great option for small alterations, there are some limitations to keep in mind before you go that route. Overall, a garment should fit so the fabric creates a silhouette that highlights and flatters the wearer’s physique with clean, sharp lines. Below is a guide to the amount of tailoring we recommend for each dimension of our garments, up to which the structure and proportions of each garment will not be noticeably or negatively affected.


Sleeve Width

The sleeve width is one of the easiest dimensions to alter. We recommend your sleeves have a slim fit but still allow enough room for mobility, however it’s normal to have less range of motion when wearing a jacket than you do without one.  The sleeve width of Proper Cloth jackets can be taken out (widened) by 0.25” (0.5” in total) at the most. It can be taken in (tightened) by 0.5” (1” in circumference). Bear in mind that 0.25” goes a long way with this dimension. 

Sleeve Length

Generally speaking, your jacket sleeve length should be 0.25”-0.5” shorter than your dress shirt sleeve (which should reach just beyond the wrist bone). The end of your jacket sleeve should stop at the wrist bone. The sleeves of our jackets can be lengthened or shortened by 0.75”. Note that the buttons on our jacket sleeves are functional, and significant shortening in particular may interfere with the buttons and button holes.

Chest Width

A good fit in the chest of a tailored jacket is important for both comfort and appearance. If it’s too tight, the lapels will bend outward and create a gap between the jacket and the wearer’s chest—not a great look. The Chest Width can be increased by about 0.4”, for a total of 0.8” in added circumference in the chest of the jacket, and reduced by up to 1” (a 2” total reduction in circumference) without affecting the structure or proportions of the jacket noticeably.

Midsection Width

The Midsection Width should drape cleanly across the abdomen and hips, with a slight taper down from the chest. If the Midsection Width is too tight, tension lines will form and radiate outward from the buttons as well as across the lower back. Our jackets can be taken out by 0.4”, for a total of 0.8” in added circumference, and can be taken in by 1” (2” in total circumference).

Center Back Length

The Center Back Length cannot be adjusted by a tailor, as there is not enough hem material for the jacket to be lengthened properly. In addition, shortening the jacket length can throw off the jacket’s overall balance by bringing the pockets and buttons too close to the bottom of the jacket. 

As a general rule of thumb, the Center Back Length should reach the base of the seat in the rear and the base of the fly in the front, however your personal preference and style should also be a consideration. Those with a longer torso may opt for a shorter jacket for a fit that better balances the trousers. Those who prefer a more modern style may want a shorter jacket as well, as a longer length can give the impression of a more traditional, classic fit.

Shoulder Width

We don’t generally recommend having a tailor adjust the Shoulder Width of a tailored jacket. It’s a complex and expensive alteration that could cost well beyond Proper Cloth’s alteration reimbursement allowance. If this dimension requires adjustment, we recommend choosing a different base jacket size or requesting a remake. 

The fit of the shoulders can make or break the overall silhouette of your jacket. The Shoulder Width should fall just past the ends of your shoulders. If it’s too short, you’ll notice a bump at the top of the upper sleeve. If it’s too wide, a dent will appear at the top of the upper sleeve.

Dress Pants

Waist Width

Adjusting the Waist Width can make a huge difference in the overall comfort of your suit trousers. The waist of your trousers should sit on or just above your hip bones and be tight enough to sit there without a belt and loose enough to allow 2-4 fingers to fit easily inside the waistband. The Waist Width of Proper Cloth trousers can be taken out by 0.75” (1.5” in total circumference). It can be taken in by 1” (2” in total circumference). Any changes to this dimension will require some changes to the seat (Hip Width) of the pants as well. 

Hip Width

The Hip Width is also known as the seat. It can be increased a bit, just 0.4″ in width (0.8″ in total circumference), but a remake is likely required for serious adjustments. You can, however, reduce the Hip Width significantly more–up to 1” (2” in total circumference). Excess fabric can be taken from the back rise seam in the center of the rear. The Hip Width can also be taken in from the side seams near the pockets, which can be helpful if adjustments to the thigh width are also required. Your trousers should drape cleanly over the hips without interruption between the waist and the thigh. Tension lines around the fly or the pockets popping open are indicators that the Hip Width is too tight and may require that you choose a new base size. The Waist Width will also likely need adjusting if the Hip Width is changing, so make sure to check the fit of that dimension as well.

Taper – Thigh Width, Leg Opening Width & Knee Width

Your personal style and body type will influence the taper of your pant legs, and therefore the measurements that govern it—Thigh Width, Leg Opening Width, and Knee Width. These are some of the easier dimensions to alter. Keep in mind that your pants should be comfortable when you’re standing, sitting, and walking. If the fabric of the lower pant leg catches on your calves when you’re seated and does not return to full length when you stand, the Knee Width and Leg Opening Width are likely both too tight. The Thigh Width, Leg Opening Width, and Knee Width can each be taken out by 0.25” (0.5” in circumference) and taken in by 1” (2” in circumference).


Appropriate trouser length, or the Inseam, depends on the wearer’s preference. Typically, adjusting from a full break to half break, or half break to no break, the Inseam should be shortened by about 0.5”. Our trousers can be lengthened by up to 1” and shortened by up to 4”. Learn more about Pant Break here.

Back Rise & Front Rise

These dimensions cannot be adjusted by a tailor as they affect too much of the trouser’s basic structure. Tightness or discomfort in the seat or between the legs indicates the either the Back or Front Rise (or both) are too short. For a more traditional fit, you should opt for a higher (longer) rise so that the waistband sits above the hip bones. A more modern fit requires a lower (shorter) rise that allows the waistband to sit just below the hip bones. We recommend a fit somewhere in the middle, such that the waistband sits right at the hip bones.