Alter existing suit or buy a new one?
November 29, 2022 2:35 PM   Subscribe

My husband's mother is very ill and we're unfortunately expecting a funeral in the next few months. My husband is in software and has been WFH for years; the last time he had to wear a suit was to my mother's funeral, which was almost five years ago. We had to buy the suit last-minute and have it tailored to fit and we don't want to repeat that experience. My husband's lost a lot of weight so he doesn't have anything in his wardrobe that will fit without extensive alteration.

I know the likely formality level of this funeral (my in-laws are members of Highland Park United Methodist Church here in Dallas) and a suit will be 100% necessary. A navy blazer will not cut it.

Complications: 1. Husband is 6'4" tall and carries his length in the torso, so wears big & tall jackets. 2. Husband was prescribed a drug for his diabetes that has melted the weight off and has lost between a quarter and a third of his body weight since my mother's funeral. 3. We have moved to Dallas and don't know a good tailor here. I know where I would have gone in Austin but the B&T shop we used in Dallas has closed and we don't have a good replacement or a tailor better than the dry cleaner who takes in/hems jeans.

Mefites with clothing/sewing experience, should I find a local tailor who can take in the jacket and trousers or should I take my husband to Dillards/Nordstrom and get him fitted for a new suit? Do you have any recommendations for a Dallas area tailor? I want to make this decision early enough that his stress and upset over his mother's situation isn't compounded by the stress of making sure he's properly dressed when the time comes.
posted by gentlyepigrams to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
I think getting a new suit would be easier. Alterations means 2 errands (first fitting and pickup) and in between, wondering if it will fit. I think getting a suit from a place that does alterations in-house will be less headache overall. You’re so thoughtful to be thinking of this.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:41 PM on November 29, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Adjusting a suit for someone who has lost a third of their body weight is very significant in terms of time, expense and complexity. In particular, you're likely talking about adjustments to the shoulders that are simply not worth the trouble. I would get a new suit.
posted by caek at 2:47 PM on November 29, 2022 [19 favorites]

Best answer: Without wishing to sound as awful as this probably does, it partly depends on how many more suit-required events you're likely to need to attend. (My 91yo mother has pointed out to me on numerous occasions that the number of funerals to attend only increases with age.) If a replacement suit will be cheaper/easier than adjusting the existing one then it's the obvious choice. If the existing suit is good quality except for the sizing then I'd be tempted to get it taken in, despite the extra time it's likely to take. My condolences on the likely loss ahead.
posted by Inanna at 2:47 PM on November 29, 2022

If the last time he needed a suit was 5 years ago, I don't think it's unreasonable to rent a suit instead. I've always had good luck with Men's Wearhouse, even though I would never buy another suit from them (they don't hold up and are too spendy, but then again, I'm a public defender and in court constantly.)
posted by Happydaz at 2:54 PM on November 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I would guess that a new suit would be cheaper and faster than trying to alter his current suit in this scenario.

As a tall suit-wearing person, I'd recommend JosABank, specifically their suit separates. My approach is to keep trying on jackets until I find one that fits well enough not to need alterations. The Traveler line works for my purposes. They may have suit pants that come pre-hemmed, which may work. If not, then hopefully the only alterations needed will be to hem the pants.

They do alterations. They were taking 3 or so weeks to return alterations the last time I used them.

You can also look online to see their current prices, which go on sale often and significantly, and the various options. I find it helpful, as it can be overwhelming to consider all of the options for such an infrequent purchase going into the store cold.
posted by bruinfan at 2:58 PM on November 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

Definitely get him fitted for a new suit. Altering the suit will be difficult to impossible, and probably cost a lot of money.
posted by plonkee at 3:30 PM on November 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Lots of best answers here but every answer was helpful. After work today, my husband and I discussed the suit situation and it turns out there is a second suit in the spare closer that is older and a smidge small but might be do-able. The oversize suit will do if there is immediate need with a good belt to hold the trousers on, which surprised me. Since the news about my mother-in-law's prognosis is increasingly poor, we now are concerned that we may not have time to get another suit purchased or the oversized one tailored given the time frames mentioned and the likelihood of holiday slowdowns.

The mention of JosABank is particularly helpful, so I'm glad to have that in my pocket for future purchase needs (suit and otherwise). My husband used to do his suit and fancy shopping at Rochester Big and Tall, which is now folded into DXL, which my husband really dislikes. I was dreading the prospect of having to figure out where to go if we did need to buy something.

Thank you all so much for helping me make a difficult time a little easier for both of us.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 5:53 PM on November 29, 2022 [9 favorites]

In my experience (in Los Angeles) tuxedo rental shops will be able to get a suit squared away either immediately or within 24 hours.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:30 PM on November 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

Just wanted to chime in that my husband has gotten several suits for work at Jos. A. Bank, and they are perfectly acceptable. He's tall and they fit surprisingly well. He's tried suits that are 3-4x as expensive and he liked these better. To my mind they look really quite good on: the fabric looks nice, the cut is classy, the optional permanent pleat down the front of the leg looks great, etc. We got them cheaply - around $85-215 per suit, for the whole suit (on massive sale), plus around $50-80 of necessary tailoring per suit, like pant leg hemming, jacket sleeve hemming, etc. (I'd get it done at the Jos. A. Bank store if you can, because they will redo the tailoring without argument as many times as it takes until it's perfect for you). If you order online, which I would recommend, it would be worth stopping into a physical store first to find the right size and figure out which line you like. They have (or at least had, a couple of years ago) huge online sales if you sign up for their mailing list etc. (If memory serves, the online sales are much better than the in-store sales.) We had intended to get a bunch of these suits cheaply first while my husband figured out higher-quality suits he liked better, but we actually ended up sticking with these. If your husband is wearing them only occasionally, in my opinion there's no point in spending 3x as much on a fancier suit, but YMMV with all of this.

Also wanted to say that my understanding is that it's quite difficult and expensive to do the type of drastic alterations you're describing. I would be surprised if it were cheaper to do the alterations than to buy a whole new suit from Jos. A. Bank or somewhere comparable, and you have much less idea what you're getting with the alteration. As a point of comparison, my husband got a jacket taken in a bit at the sides (a much easier job than what you're asking for) and it was more expensive than his Jos. A. Bank suits. Furthermore, the job wasn't initially done to his satisfaction (it ended up uneven/asymmetrical), and he had to take it back and argue with the tailor and have it redone. This was a tailor who had the top ratings in our previous city.
posted by ClaireBear at 7:31 PM on November 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

I would call Nordstrom and see if they carry his size. They do alterations right there on the spot and can turn around items super fast if you explain the situation. This is what we did when we needed a suit for my husband.

They will also alter stuff from Nordstrom Rack (or even things purchased elsewhere!)
posted by dancinglamb at 5:32 AM on November 30, 2022

I'm just tossing in this idea, because it's where I got suits for my grown sons to attend a wedding this year... Thrift shops/high end consignment shops. I was able to get a Jos. A. Banks suit for one son that cost $19. For a whole suit!

If you have any good second hand shops, it's worth a peek.
posted by annieb at 4:16 PM on November 30, 2022

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