Buying off the rack clothing is a convenient activity. You walk into the store, pick some clothes, try them on, and if you like how they look and fit, you walk out with them. It’s what everyone does in this day and age. Unfortunately, all off the rack clothing is made to fit all kinds of people. If you’re lucky and by that I mean your body is almost exactly like the fit model it was designed on, you will look swell. In most cases you won’t and this is a huge problem for all men out there especially those with unconventional body shapes.

In my experience, buying shirts off the rack will end up like this:

  • The shirt has a lot of extra fabric around the waist when tucked in;
  • The shirt sleeves are too loose;
  • The shirt sleeves are too long; and
  • The chest is too wide even with the right shoulders.

And buying pants ends up like this:

  • Too straight down the leg;
  • Thigh area is a bit loose; and
  • The length has to be shortened by 2-3 inches.

Such problems can be remedied through alterations. It might sound simple enough to the average person, but there is actually an art to having alterations done. Let me show you how.

1. Don’t just go to anyone or any shop that claims they can do alterations. There is at least one alteration shop in each mall these days but you can’t trust them. My advice is to have alterations done at a real tailor who is skilled at creating clothes from scratch. Real tailors employ master cutters who are experts at how to cut the fabric so that it fits well. A master cutter will be able to properly advise you on the alteration.

2. Use pins to mark and better imagine how your piece of clothing will look like on you. By using them you will be able to see how much fabric will be removed, what your shirt/pants will look like if shortened, and so on. I had this alteration experience that went the wrong way after the one who was going to do the alterations didn’t use pins. Many of my shirts became unusable after the alteration so I’ve sworn only to have my clothes altered by professionals who use pins.

3. Flex and raise arms to see how the shirt will move. Once the pins have been applied everything might look fine but it is important not to ignore your shirt sleeves especially when they’re long. Folding your arms means fabric will move and you don’t want the fabric to be too close to the skin that you can no longer move in them. Extend your arms forward and fold them to see how the fabric moves. Do this while the pins are in place and adjust the pins until you can fold your arms without much restriction.

4. Sit down and see how your shirt will expand around the waist. There are a lot of men out there who do not have a flat stomach. They might have a small or big belly. A shirt that fits well while standing up might become uncomfortable when sitting down. When you can no longer take your stomach in, the fabric will eventually need to accommodate your belly thus you will need to make sure that there is some excess fabric. Sitting down helps you estimate how much fabric you will need to allot in order for you to wear it comfortably.

5. Follow the stitching, thread color and how fabric is put together. These are minor details but this can affect the final look of the clothes you are having altered. Clothing such as a denim shirts have been washed and it shows along the stitched areas. It might not be possible to retain the original look along the stitched areas but at the very least follow how it was folded and stitched.

6. Repair jeans early. Jeans can easily get stressed at the crotch area and I advise that they be repaired early way before they stretch too much and rip apart. Denim is darker when it is not stretched too much so the repairs done to it will not be that visible.

7. On the use of darts. I don’t have darts added to shirts as I prefer a clean back and a better fit. I usually see darts on very slim-fitting shirts who are meant for very slim people and I’m just not one of them. If you are a slim guy and there isn’t a lot of fabric to be taken in, try using darts.

8. Extensive alterations can be costly. Extensive alterations mean taking in the sides, shortening the length & width of the sleeves and shortening the overall shirt length – it’s like overhauling an automobile. It can cost you anywhere between 800 and 1000 pesos for an extensive alteration depending on the shop. When buying clothes off the rack make sure they fit well to minimize the alterations to be done.

Having clothes altered ensures you have the best possible look and fit when buying off the rack.

I have my clothes altered at King Philip. They can be found along Arnaiz Ave./Pasay Road in Makati City.