Person tailoring lapels on jacket


A smart jacket or blazer can totally lift an outfit by adding structure, improving posture and creating a more pleasing shape. It doesn’t need to be part of a matching set to do this, in fact we like to have a selection of jackets to throw over a t-shirt and jeans combo for a trip to the shops or an impromptu jaunt to the pub.

However, for a jacket to do its magic, it must be a perfect fit and that is not easy to achieve with off the peg items whose dimensions are based on average sizes. Although most of us don’t have the luxury of a fully tailored wardrobe, the perfect fit can be achieved from shop bought designs with the help of a little tailoring.


A well fitted jacket can make an outfit look more expensive than it is, however, a poorly fitted jacket, can create quite the opposite look; it will accentuate a poor posture and cheapen the overall effect and don’t be fooled in to thinking the more you pay the better it will look, as even a well made expensive jacket will look bad if it is badly fitted. If it fits well, you will feel great and notice more compliments.


It is very unlikely that you will find an off the shelf jacket that fits everywhere. Luckily, there are a range of alterations that can be made to a blazer but some are more complicated, time consuming and expensive than others so it makes sense to know what makes a good fit in the first place and what will require the least complex alterations ensuring you buy the best jacket to start with. You will usually have a gut feel for a jacket not looking or feeling right but may not be able to pinpoint specifically why, so here are a few pointers to help.

SHOULDERS: Starting from the top, the shoulders should sit neatly with your own. If the shoulders hang over yours at all you will look too bulky and it may cause a ridge in the material between your neck and the inner edge of the shoulder pad. It may also cause puckering of excess material at the front and back. Reducing shoulders can be achieved but it’s tricky and time consuming so you will need to decide if it is worth the expense. If the shoulders are too narrow, the material will pucker across the upper back and will just feel too tight. If it’s a struggle to put your arms out in front of you then the jacket is too tight.

BACK & NECK: The jacket collar should sit neatly on your shirt collar or neck if you’re wearing a more casual top underneath. If it gapes then it’s too big and if it rises up high against your neck adding a bit of pressure then you will know it’s wrong. Shortening a gaping collar requires quite a lot of work so should be well considered before going ahead.

WAIST: A couple of issues can occur with the waist. Most people are not a standard size all over, a lot of my clients find that jackets that fit on the shoulder are too tight around the waist and they opt to leave the buttons undone. This is absolutely fine but if you wish to get buttons done up then increasing the waist can be achieved relatively easily by letting out the side seems. They can also be taken in if the jacket is too bulky around the waist, this helps to provide more definition to the figure.  For those of you who are short waisted, you will find that the waist of a jacket falls below your natural waist so when you do up the buttons excess material gapes across the chest and upper back. This can be remedied simply by creating a seam at the natural waist or if this isn’t satisfactory the jacket can be shortened, but this is a complex process and a costly alteration.

ARMS: Off the peg jackets usually have quite long arms and it is one of the most common alterations needed. For a plain cuff this requires a simple tweak however if you have working button holes known as Surgeons cuffs, then the arm will need to be shortened from the top which requires more time and skill. Lengthening the sleeve is also simple with plain cuffs as there should be at least 2.5 cm of material to play with. Arms that are too wide can be reduced by bringing in the seam. If your body shape has changed and the arms have become tight, material can be added at the seam, this works well at the upper arm though it will require finding material the same or as near a match as possible.


We have explained what simple amendments can be made to help you buy the best jacket. It may also inspire you to get the best out of something that lives at the back of your wardrobe, however, if you have a vintage jacket, an investment piece or something with sentimental value, there is nothing that tailoring can’t do to get it to fit perfectly and look fabulous.

Our alterations company, The Wardrobe Curator provides alterations for all sorts of garments from designer wear to sentimental pieces.  Here is one of the first videos we made explaining how to tailor a jacket. If we are too far away, you should be able to find a local tailor but be sure to get a recommendation before asking for complex alterations or handing over your prized heirlooms.