The Tale of Two Tailors

The Tale of Two Tailors


Everyone knows that America won the war on the Pacific front in WWII because America was, and still is, a superior military power to Japan.  Obviously, there are many factors that contributed to this greatness throughout the war.  One of the lesser known factors is that the ratio of support staff to soldiers was much higher on the American side than the Japanese side.  I do not remember the exact number but for purposes of example, imagine that an American would have 3 people supporting him where a Japanese would have 2, it makes a difference.  The benefit of a strong support staff can be carried over to just about anything from sports teams to finance to even your wardrobe.  Every man needs a good dry cleaner and a good tailor, actually two tailors (two dry cleaners wouldn’t hurt either).  Tailors and dry cleaners are your wardrobe’s support staff, the back office if you will.

The two main reasons to have two tailors are economic and to have a backup plan.  Furthermore, it could also be out of convenience; one could be closer to work or home than the other.  You see, there are ‘tailors’ and then there are tailors.  The relationship you have with both should be similar, the most important aspect is trust.  You need to be able to trust your tailors to do exactly what you ask them to do and to do it well on a consistent basis.  ‘Tailors’ are the neighborhood dry cleaner or hole in the wall shop that can take in a waist, repair a button and hem a pair of pants; the basics.  Tailors are professionals.  They do everything a ‘tailor’ does and then some.  A tailor is who you take your new suit to (generally, you should not use the in-store tailors, more on that in future posts), a ‘tailor’ you do not.  A tailor will likely be more expensive than a ‘tailor.’  For certain articles of clothing the price difference is fully justified, such as for suits, jackets, coats, more expensive shirts and pants as well as more for complex alterations.  Case in point, I had two identical pair of pants and had identical work done on both (take in waist, hem, taper the legs and take excess fabric out of the crotch), my ‘tailor’ charged $45 for one pair, my tailor charged $90 for the other.  There is a negligible difference between the pairs, nothing to justify paying an extra $45 but certainly enough to justify having two tailors.


  1. Your case in point seems to be leaving out the point?

    You had 2 identical pairs of pants, you took to two different tailors, for two identical alterations, one charged twice what the other one did… and you don’t really finish the story.

    Was the quality of the repairs comparable, or no? Would you consider the work done to be basic or complex? It sounds somewhat complex to me, which makes me think the tailor would have an edge over the ‘tailor.’ But I’ve only had alterations done a few times (though one of them was very complex… I mismeasured my shoulders for my first MTM suit, from iTailor. Fixing that cost almost as much as the suit did, and it still didn’t look right afterwards, so I ended up ordering a different one from Black Lapel.)

    I’m assuming your point is something like “Find a cheap tailor who’s good enough to take care of the basic stuff without breaking the bank and find an excellent tailor you can trust with anything, and expect him to cost more.”

    The backup plan aspect of your point only goes one way though… if the cheap tailor is on vacation, the expensive tailor can do the job for more money, but if the expensive tailor is out, your cheap guy probably can’t. Maybe you need two good tailors, and one cheap one. Or two cheap ones.

    • JC,
      That is indeed the point, as is noted in the second paragraph. Have the tailor do the basics and then some. That is unfortunate about the first suit from iTailor, improper shoulder measurements will ruin a suit; I’ve had that happen to me before as well. The workmanship on basic alterations was mostly comparable. However, the higher priced tailor kept the stitching cleaner and didn’t leave so many stray threads on the pants. His hem was also better. Now, this is not to say that there will not be times when a less expensive tailor will do equal work, but often there is a reason why tailors have different rates.