Can a tailor do anything about the shoulder pads in my suit?
September 26, 2007 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Can a tailor do anything about the shoulder pads in my suit?

I bought a suit a few years ago with big shoulder pads. I'm a slim guy, and have since realized that the big shoulder pads thing is...not so good for me. Is it possible for a tailor to refashion a jacket to slim it down, and remove those shoulder pads, so I don't look like a little kid in this thing? Or is that too expensive to bother with?

It's a nice suit--and I spent some money on it--so I'm not willing to just give up on it, but I can't run round in that thing the way it is now.
posted by mekanic to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (5 answers total)
It's definitely possible. Sometime in the 90s my mom got all her rad 80s/early 90s suits refashioned sans shoulder pads. The cost shouldn't be prohibitive, either. If you like the suit, it's worth it.
posted by wemayfreeze at 8:20 PM on September 26, 2007

Yeah that can totally be done. Under the lining the pads are usually just tacked on with a stitch or two. You could probably get a competent tailor to put smaller pads in if you preferred that.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:41 PM on September 26, 2007

Removing shoulder pads isn't hard; reshaping an armhole and sleeve head, and resetting the sleeve is pretty tough. You can't expect a big, square shouldered, fully constructed suit jacket profile to be elegantly refitted to a slim, soft, natural shoulder, simply by removing/replacing shoulder pad material. In the extreme case, doing that will simply result in a droopy looking jacket, which tends to have too much material in the arm holes, having a tendency to bunch under the arms, and open around the neck unnaturally. From the back, it will look like you're wearing a jacket that is too big for you; the sleeves will be suddenly a little too long, as well. These problems will appear worse if your suit is made of patterned goods, like pinstripe. Here's the technical page of English Cut, a blog by a Savile Row tailor, with some excellent photos and explanations of fitting markings, which will give you a bit of an idea about the changes required, if the job is to be done right.

In a good fully tailored jacket, the shoulder pads are also tacked to the horsehair chest piece, which floats inside the jacket, although in lesser quality suits, the floating chest piece may be replaced by a synthetic fusible interlining material. Thus, if your jacket has a floating chest piece, it's more likely that shoulder pads can be replaced with good results, than if your jacket is made with fusibles; but in either case, re-tacking and securing new shoulder pads needs to be done appropriately, to keep them from shifting in wear and cleaning. And if the desired profile change is major, it will require removing the sleeves, opening the shoulder seams, the side seams, the underseam of the sleeve, reshaping the armhole by taking up material in the opened seams appropriately, replacing the shoulder pads, resetting the sleeves, and reclosing the linings. It might be worth doing on a bespoke suit, or one with significant sentimental value, but it is major tailoring for a significant profile change.
posted by paulsc at 10:24 PM on September 26, 2007

If you just want the shoulder pads out, and don't care about reshaping the armholes, you might be able to do it yourself. I'm not too familiar with men's suits, but most women's clothing with shoulder pads has them just tacked in with a few stitches. They can be accessed from under the lining (which will be tougher if the lining is sew down at the hem). You can just snip the threads that hold them in.

This is what I always do with shoulder pads on my own clothes, since my shoulders don't fit in them otherwise. As others have pointed out, your suits might fit oddly without them. An alternative to paying to have the fit of your jacket altered is to start doing pushups. This should bulk up your shoulders pretty quickly. The downside is that if you have other tailored clothing that currently fits well, it won't anymore.
posted by yohko at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2007

I think you can just clip out the threads holding the shoulder pads in.

Usually there is not a lot holding those in place.
posted by seekingsimplicity at 12:25 PM on September 28, 2007

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