5 Items That Should Be Tailored

by Rachel Yeomans | March 26th, 2012   
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By Noelle Cellini
My Best Foot Forward

It’s been said that you if you don’t fit, you don’t have style.  A tailor should be your best friend (a close second would be your cobbler).  Most clothes are made for the masses, so a little adjustment here or there is not uncommon.  It’s when we don’t change those things that our look becomes sloppy.  Take the time (and the money) to make sure your clothes fit correctly.  Here are five things every working woman should have tailored.

1. One of the smallest alterations, but something that differs between men and women, is the sleeve length on a jacket.  For women, with your arms at your side, a jacket sleeve should clear the top of your hand or come to the “gummy” part between your thumb and……This may seem long if someone is pointing it out to you for the first time, but this ensures that when you’re reaching forward to drive, on the computer or on the phone, the sleeves aren’t too short.  Don’t look at the men to see what they’re doing because their jacket sleeve should break at the wrist.  This allows about a half inch of their shirt sleeve to peek out underneath the jacket.  For women, our shirt sleeve is not going to be seen.    I know this may seem picky, but tailoring your jackets to fit correctly makes all the difference between working for the boss and being the boss!

Rachel Zoe gets it right with this classic white cotton blazer. So chic and the perfect wardrobe staple for spring and summer.

Rachel Zoe Megan Bell Sleeve Jacket 5 Items That Should Be Tailored

2. While sleeve length is important, so is the length of your pants.  For women, we never want there to be a break in the line of the leg (this shortens you) or any extra bunching or gathering of fabric.  This is sloppy and doesn’t say professional.  The ideal length should brush the toe of your shoe or cover ¾ of your heel.  Either guideline is appropriate.  (If you’re wearing flats, then your trousers probably won’t brush the toe of your shoe.)  While too long is an issue, so is too short.  We shouldn’t see much of the top of the foot.

These taupe wide leg pants are not only a great neutral, but hemmed to the right length (brushing the toe of the shoe).

Tahari wide leg pants 5 Items That Should Be Tailored

Here’s an example of another pair of wide leg trousers that are too short.  They’re not brushing the toe of the shoe or covering ¾ of the heel.  I would be uncomfortable, constantly trying to pull them down!

black pants 5 Items That Should Be Tailored

3. Nothing throws off the proportion of the body more or enters into dowdy faster than the hemline of a skirt.  I advise my clients to go with knee-length, which means just above, at or right below the knee.  Any longer than knee-length and we start to shorten the line of the leg.  That’s never a good thing as that can make you look short and squat.  Hated that tea-length bridesmaid dress someone made you worn?  Well, that’s why – the length is too long.  Keep it knee-length and you’ll always be modern and appropriate.

Knee-length and the combination of navy and black?!  It doesn’t get more sophisticated than that!

Rachel Roy skirt 5 Items That Should Be Tailored

4. I always like to talk about something from your casual wardrobe because you can run into a client or potential client anywhere!  It’s best, even on your off-duty days, to be well-tailored and put together.  Frayed hems never says chic.  Fortunately, jeans can be altered and the original hem can be applied.  This is an easy fix and once they’re done, you don’t have to worry about it!  Every time you put them on, they fit like a dream.

5. Lastly, pants that gape in the back is a common fit issue for many women.  While I know they are searching for the perfect pair of black pants, this is an easy fix and a great reason to use a tailor.  Taking in the back part of the waistband is an easy adjustment and doesn’t cost a lot of money.  From jeans to work pants, this is a must when getting off-the-rack items to fit correctly.


So true! Great thing to point out is if the sleeve length is right, great, but make sure the rest of the jacket fits as well!

Cable Car Couture
Cable Car Couture

Agreed! If women aren't careful, the length of our sleeves on a blazer can make it look like we're wearing our dad's jacket.


So true! It's not uncommon for women to wear their clothes as is, but if your jacket sleeves fall halfway down your hand, it makes it look like we're wearing our dad's jackets. 

theworkwardrobe moderator

 @cablecarcouture Thanks so much for the comment @Cable Car Couture - I'd say that if the rest of the jacket fits, then the sleeve length looks chic versus oversized. I always get my jackets tailored in the waist and shoulders as almost all are too bulky on me. And I have quite monkey-like limbs so I have my tailor use the extra fabric to increase the sleeve length! If I feel especially daring, I even change the buttons. Almost a whole new jacket!