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Shortening a tailcoat?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
(Cross-posted from AAAC)

I found a beautiful '60s evening dress suit yesterday that fits me pretty well overall, except that the tails are just a bit too long--they fall about 2-3" below the back of my knee and hit the top of my calf. Can a competent tailor shorten a tailcoat, perhaps by opening up the waist seam and picking up the tails from there? The waist of the coat is right where it ought to be on me, so the top half of the coat shouldn't need any alterations. Is this feasible, and should I expect it to be very expensive? If it's within the realm of possibility, I am going to go back and get the suit.


Edit: I see that Chris Despos says in a recent thread that the tails should fall 2" below the back of the knee. This seems to differ with what I've heard and read elsewhere. Any thoughts on the matter?
post #2 of 13
I'll stick to that opinion. Morning coats are shorter than tails.
My apprenticeship in NY I worked for a tailor that specialized in making tails. We once made over 50 sets in one year. This is my knowledge base.
post #3 of 13
However, I must say that from my historical readings the fashionable length of tailcoats did go up and down with time. I have one antique morning coat which is very short and I rather like it that way.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Despos View Post
I'll stick to that opinion. Morning coats are shorter than tails.
My apprenticeship in NY I worked for a tailor that specialized in making tails. We once made over 50 sets in one year. This is my knowledge base.

That's good enough for me. Perhaps when I get the suit I'll post a picture and get opinions on the length.
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sator View Post
However, I must say that from my historical readings the fashionable length of tailcoats did go up and down with time. I have one antique morning coat which is very short and I rather like it that way.

Sure, the fashionistas would do that.
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Despos View Post
I'll stick to that opinion. Morning coats are shorter than tails.
My apprenticeship in NY I worked for a tailor that specialized in making tails. We once made over 50 sets in one year. This is my knowledge base.

They are supposed to be but I have noticed that the tails on morning coats have gone up and down a bit. I had a off the peg coat I purchased thirty years or so ago when I was poorer and this had longer tails than are on a coat I had made about four years ago at Ede and Ravenscroft in London.
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Despos View Post
Sure, the fashionistas would do that.

My experience exactly. I discussed this with the tailor and he gave me somewhat shorter one. They do look better.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Ok, here are pictures of the dress suit. It's a vintage ('60s) Hickey Freeman. I think it fits me pretty well overall, but I want to get opinions and critiques of the fit. Clearly the sleeves and trousers are too long; I'm going to have those adjusted. How is the length of the tails? Should I have the sleeves narrowed? How about the fit of the trousers generally? The back looks a little full to me; I may see if it can be taken in at the center seam to clean that up.

I've adjusted the brightness and contrast on the photos to show detail.

post #9 of 13
Great find!
post #10 of 13
Looks good. I have asked my alteration tailor about shortening a (morning) tailcoat. He said no. However yours don't look too long. Maybe a shot from the side would highlight the problem better, and also show the double braid on the trousers? Leon
post #11 of 13
American evening dress seems usually to have one stripe, so one shouldn't necessarily expect the double braid. It's a very nice set, though, and it seems to fit you very well.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks. It does have a single stripe on the trousers, but I'm not worried about it. Single stripes with tails are a bit like notch-lapel dinner jackets, in my mind: not the most elegant option, perhaps, but Americans have been wearing them long enough (probably a century) that they're perfectly correct and acceptable.
post #13 of 13
Tailcoat aside, the trousers also need to be taken up. Perhaps you should pass along the suit to a taller friend.
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