The Right Fit

Tailoring Tips from The Foursome’s Expert Tailor Hyo Shik Chong

Tailor sewing and thread

Neutral spools of thread crowded in a shoe box, a row of coats with raw-edged sleeve linings waiting for their turn in the tailor’s hands, snippets of fabric and thread gathered in clumps like hair on the floor of a barber’s shop, a group of shirts draped over a chair ready for pressing. . . The tailor shop was quiet, except for the low humming of the machine that started and stopped abruptly as Hyo Shik turned the coat he was working on under the needle. He stopped sewing and sat slouched in his chair as he answered my questions. I walked away from our informal interview with a greater appreciation for the quality clothing we sell at The Foursome and learned a number of practical things for helping men discern how their clothing should fit. A few tailoring tweaks to your wardrobe can make a big difference in your personal presentation.

Check out the latest interview with our expert tailor Hyo Shik for helpful tips and a glimpse into how our tailor shop ticks. He has been a part of The Foursome team for 39 years!

Suits waiting to be tailored

What do you look for when altering a suit?
When I come to a man standing in the mirror with a suit on, I have an immediate judgement. Just by looking I can see how to make it fit right. I look at the man’s body, does he have an athletic body? Does he have broad shoulders? Etc. Each person’s body determines what should be altered. A suit should not pull in any areas, nor should it be loose fitting. A well fitted suit feels very comfortable to the customer when he moves, sits, or stands.

What is the appropriate coat sleeve length?
Usually 4 inches from the end of the thumb. Some men prefer to show their cuff, which makes it 4 1/2 to 5 inches from the thumb tip.

What is the appropriate pant length?
I generally determine a man’s pant length by his age. A younger guy, perhaps 35 and under, I mark a 1/2 inch from the floor. But for someone over 50 I want to see a slight break in the pants and mark them 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the floor. However, it is really up to the customer and what length he prefers for his pants.

What alterations can be done to an existing pair of pants to help them fit well?
For example, when someone has an athletic body, the waist is often smaller and needs to be taken in. The maximum amount that a pair of pants can be taken in is 4 to 5 inches. On the contrary, most pants are made with an extra 2 inches of fabric that can be let out. This will help someone determine whether they should get an alteration done or buy a new pair of pants.

thread spools

How easily can someone change an existing dress shirt into a slimmer fit shirt?
We do a lot of shirt alterations in the tailor shop. These days men are wearing slimmer fit dress shirts. A lot of companies have redesigned shirts in this way but we can always tailor shirts to fit well. On average, I would take a dress shirt in 4 to 6 inches.

What item of clothing do you think is most often ill-fitting on men?
If I were to walk into an event with a lot of men dressed in suits and sport coats, I can tell just by looking how well a garment fits. I can tell what clothing is cheaper and lesser quality because it does not fit well. So it is not just one item of clothing that I notice not fitting well, but the quality of the garment that makes it ill-fitting on men.

About how many pants do you hem in one week?
We hem 300-400 pants a week so about 60 a day and approximately 25-30 coats a day.

What is the most time consuming alteration for you as a tailor?
It takes the most time and skill to adjust the collar/shoulder of a garment. I have to start from scratch. It is like making a new piece of clothing because I have to take apart the collar, make adjustments and then re-attach the collar. This is why it is important to have an expert tailor who has the skills to do good work.

What item of clothing do you enjoy altering most?
I most enjoy working with luxury garments like Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx because of the exceptional quality of fabrics, linings, and details that are worked into the clothing. I find handmade elements when I open up the suit to make alterations and I appreciate the individual components of these well constructed garments. I have to do less work on them because they are made to fit the body so well.

The Foursome offers one of the best full-service tailor shops in the Twin Cities, conveniently located onsite in their men’s clothing store in Plymouth. From complex suit alterations to mending to replacing hardware on garments, our proficient tailors enjoy serving our customers with care. We are pleased to alter both men’s and women’s garments – whether you purchased the garments at our store or elsewhere. See a list of services and competitive prices.

Interview and written by Beth Dougherty

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