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How to Find a Good Tailor

When it comes to choosing certain things— gyms, spas, tailors— I find reviews from strangers and friends equally problematic.

While mildly positive feedback from the girl next to me at work can be enough to send me marching to an organic juice press or Brazilian hard waxing salon, gushing Yelp posts only trigger my suspicion.

I'm disproportionately wary of the web and too trusting with 3D people, so I think it's important to go a different route sometimes, like with finding a tailor.

I don't want to bring all my stuff to a friend's beloved tailor only to feel kinda blah about the results and subconsciously resent her, or spend the better part of a TV-watching night trying to decipher the real Citysearch commenters from the owner's relatives. Instead, here's how I'd do it:

Ask fancy boutiques for recommendations.

No matter where you live, there has to be at least one high-end clothing boutique nearby. Find out where they send their stuff for alterations. Unlike department stores, they don't usually have a tailor on staff, so they'll need to have a reliable place in mind. And unlike even your most high-maintenance friend, they'll send stuff more often, so they'll have more experience.

If you like your dry cleaner, ask them for advice, too.

Just be wary if their recommended tailor works at the same address. In-house tailors at dry cleaners are typically (though not always) less skilled than those with their own shops.

Search for men's tailors.

It's worth asking the luxe tailor who custom made your boss's suit to alter your dress for you. Men's suits are really, really complicated, so it'll be easier work for him and you'll get the benefit of a more talented tailor.

Once you find a place, ask if they can do more complicated processes, like reweaving (seamlessly sewing together little holes in fabric) or changing the placement of a sleeve.

Maybe you don't need the fancy treatment—but it's at least good to find a place that's capable, right?

Bring them something either kinda cheap or kinda disposable the first time you go.

Then watch the way they work. A good tailor isn't just skilled but objective, too. I've had some stubborn tailors push certain cuts and shapes that they prefer on me, overriding what I wanted when I walked into their shop. Not ideal.

Beware of turnaround time.

Sure, it's not as important as quality. But if you're like me and don't realize you need a dress altered until two days before a party, a quick turnaround can be crucial to determining what "good" means.

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