Originally Posted by dasai
So, for about 2 years, I've been wearing an early-1950s vintage U.S. Navy peacoat, size 38. It fits me all right, but it's always been slightly too long and too wide in the shoulders (I'm a true 37).
Today at the local secondhand clothing shop, I spotted a size 36 from around the same time period. Aside from the usual problems affecting a garment so old (small rip in lining, buttonholes needing re-stitching, buttons needing to be reattached / restored to proper place), it was actually in better shape than mine. Moreover, it seems to fit me better all around, even wearing a sweater. Plus, it's $30 -- not great for a used item in general, but great for vintage military paraphernalia in Japan.
The only thing is, it's a little snug in the bottom, where the vent splays out a little bit in back. Not enough to actually expose my pants, but the two sides are just barely touching, and don't overlap. My question is, would a tailor be able to let out the side seams enough to fix the issue with the vents, or should I pass?
This is a problem I have never encountered, but then I am narrow in the hips so I wouldn't notice it. Typically, there is about 1/2" (1.3cm) of excess material on either side of center in the area you want to let out. So, the hip portion of the coat could be let out a little less than 1" (2.5cm) on each side. I checked three of my coats from about that time frame, and they all had the same amount of excess material. A tailor could "scab" another piece of material onto the wool so that almost a full 1" on each side could be used. Might ask about "scabbing" before you plan on it. At the least you could get about 1 1/2" total, even without scabbing.
I would think if the flaps were not open and showing your trousers, it wouldn't be a real problem, but then we all see things differently.
Good luck, and please let us know how the alterations work.