Broke and Bespoke

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A Cautionary Tale: Getting Pants Tapered

Sometimes you buy a pair of pants and they fit well in the waist and seat, but they need to be tapered. Any competent tailor or alterationist can do this for you. But as the customer you need to be aware of some of the potential pitfalls of going about having your pants tapered to ensure that when the tailor follows your directions, you end up with pants you want to wear.

I’ve pictured two pairs of pants above, one that’s been tapered (blue chinos) and one that hasn’t (jeans). Both feature a common problem to be avoided. If you look closely you can see that the tapering on both the chinos and jeans continue all the way to the hem. In my opinion, this gives the pant a rather severe look. Worse, this severity morphs into something worse when you try to cuff the pants.

You can see that some fabric is bunched in both pairs of pants when cuffed. It’s almost like an unintended pegging effect. Some may like this, but to me it looks messy, and certainly detracts from a smooth and unbroken leg silhouette. 

One way to avoid this problem when having a tailor or alterationist taper your pants is to request that the taper stop several inches short of the hem of the pants. That will not only give your pant leg a more streamlined appearance, but will keep you from having the cuff problems pictured above.

Also, you don’t want to have the ankle opening be too small relative to the rest of the pants. For instance, you may prefer a 7” leg opening, but be sure that the knee and thigh measurements on your pants can accomodate such an opening. If not, you may need to have the pants altered throughout the entire leg, rather than just from the knee down. That’s definitely what happened to me with the blue chinos above. I was trying to save some money by only having the tailor work below the knee, and as a result I requested a leg opening that was too narrow relative to the leg above the knee.

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