Can I make it smaller?
March 21, 2019 12:20 PM   Subscribe

How drastically can a man’s jacket/sportcoat be altered, realistically?

Several years ago, I splurged and got myself a nice sportcoat/jacket. Soft black (either wool or camelhair. I’m not sure) It’s pretty darned versatile and looks good almost everywhere.

About two-ish years ago, I dropped about 30-35 lbs. for no apparent reason anyone can discover, within the course of a year. I also lost a lot of muscle mass. I’m 5’8”, so the weightloss was pretty dramatic.

Skip to today, I have been tagged to officiate at our son’s wedding. Sadly, due to the weight loss, my favorite jacket is baggy on me. Also unfortunately, the retailer I got the jacket from does not appear to stock it anymore (it’s not on their website, anyway) Depending on the cost, I might not be able to buy a new one anyway.

How drastically can a jacket be altered (in my case, made smaller) without looking really odd? Certainly, my chest is smaller, as is my torso. Definitely my shoulders are smaller now, too.

I’m also concerned about the alterations not costing more than just buying something new would.

Please hope me ye tailors of MeFi!
posted by Thorzdad to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (6 answers total)
It can probably be done, but it won't be cheap. The chest and shoulders are basically the hardest parts of a jacket to alter - what a tailor will probably do is take the jacket apart at the seam in the back and take it in there. It may cost upwards of $200 to do that.

If you're going down one size (say, 44 inch chest to a 42) it's most likely doable, but any more than that I'd be doubtful. The best thing you can do is find a reputable tailor in the area who will honestly assess whether it's going to look good after the alterations.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:29 PM on March 21, 2019 [7 favorites]

It really depends on how much and where the jacket needs taking in, as weight loss differs so much from person to person how it affects body shape. You can go to a tailor for a fitting and get a price and then decide if it's worth it to you.

I'm guessing buying a new jacket is probably a better and cheaper option here.
posted by ananci at 12:29 PM on March 21, 2019

Generally when you buy--expecting to have alterations--you want a jacket to fit through the chest and the shoulders. Remaking a finished jacket to fit through the chest and shoulders is hard and not usually worth the cost of alteration. Anything in the "top block" of a jacket--the buttonholes and up--is difficult and usually in the "don't bother" category: shoulders fall in this category.

Sleeve length is easy (shortening is easier than lengthening). Taking in the waist slightly on a jacket is simple. Lapels and length are impossible.
posted by crush at 12:39 PM on March 21, 2019 [3 favorites]

Put This On has a great guide to alterations, in general. It's always easier to have something taken in, but the cost of the alteration might not be worth it. If there's a reputable tailor near you, it couldn't hurt to at least ask.
posted by SansPoint at 1:50 PM on March 21, 2019

Thanks all. You pretty much confirmed my suspicions.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:35 PM on March 21, 2019

When I was a student in Edinburgh, I went looking for a dinner suit at a second-hand shop on the Cowgate. I dug around on the rail & found some Daks trousers that were a decent fit for my slender 19yo hips, but the jacket that I liked had been made to fit a much much fatter man - by a tailor in Nicosia, Cyprus, according to the label inside it. So I took it to a backstreet tailor off Nicholson Sq (an elderly German gentleman, who told me that decades before he'd been a translator at the Nuremburg trials), and he measured me up & took it in for me - by splitting it down the back, removing the excess, and sewing it back up. He turned it round in a couple of days. I don't remember what he charged me, but I was on a very very tight budget at the time, and I'm pretty sure the suit itself had cost me £25.

So, I say don't give up hope. If it still fits you near enough across the shoulders, you've got a fighting chance if you can find a decent tailor's shop.
posted by rd45 at 2:33 AM on March 22, 2019

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