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Tailoring advice for shirts and khakis


New Member
Nov 2, 2012
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Hi Styleforum

I've browsed around your site on and off for a while, and I'm finally ready to ask for some advice.

First off, I work in industrial construction, so I'm not going to be asking about suits and slacks, or even designer type jeans and shirts. If I'm in the wrong place, let me know. I'm posting at another style type forum as well, named after the man who you ask about clothes (not sure if there's any rivalry, don't want to break any rules here) since I'm not really sure where to start.

So, I started out in construction, wearing whatever jeans were at the thrift store and wal-mart tshirts or dickies work shirts, then moving up to carhatts and fire resistant, and coveralls, all function over form. That was fine when I was getting down and dirty every day, but I've been in the office for the last few years, and just sort of combined my old work clothes with my going out clothes, and never really thought to make it look decent.

Now I'm working in Spain with some better dressed folks, and I look like an American construction worker or salesman. Proud enough of the title, but the uniform on the US Gulf Coast tends more toward baggy shirt, baggy pants.

I worked in Houston and in DC, and the tailors were either slow (two drycleaning/alterations shops gave me 6 week turnarounds on sides and sleeves!) or expensive ($25 and up, which I didn't realize was totally reasonable). I knew my clothes didn't fit, but no one else's did either, so no problem.

There's a guy here who does shirt alterations (sides and sleeves) for less than $2, and he'll do pants for less than $5. I have some old shirts I've tried him out on, and I'm thinking about getting him to do some more new shirts, and some pants. So no real loss if any of it becomes unwearable. I don't speak enough Spanish to have an in depth conversation, but he seems to know what I want.

I'd like you guys to help me figure out what to tell him for future work. I've taken a few pics, feel free to ask for different angles or if the lighting just makes it impossible to help, or anything.

First, an example of what the local tailor has done so far. This is a Sonoma shirt, Target I think, might have been $20 new, so it was the guinea pig:

This is tighter than anything I would have worn before (control your laughter, hipsters). I was afraid if I bought something tight, it would shrink and be a loss, or that I would gain weight and lose a shirt. The body feels pretty good, but the sleeves are too tight to roll up, and it's a strain to stretch my arms all the way up (ladders and scaffolds might be a challenge). I'm not totally used to it yet, but I like it.

Next is an Express MX shirt, XL mostly for the sleeve length which I know is a little long, and 501s. This is basically the type of outfit I've worn for the last 6 years. I have three of these shirts, a lighter blue and a striped white one, so getting them to fit would be a big help:

I realize now I should have done another button, but you can see the extra material throughout. If I just go to the guy with them, he'll put them on me inside out, pin an inch or so from my body from the waist to the cuff, and be done in 48 hours.

One specific question, any advice on doing the body and the sleeves differently? I'm thinking the body could stay at an inch or 1.5 loose, but I might try doing the arms more like 2-2.5, to see if I get the range of motion and sleeve rolling I want. I assume it would be better to fit to my body plus some even amount of slack, than try to set a taper with the shirt flat?

Last pics for now, some Dockers cargo pants. Again, I realize this isn't the height of fashion, but I think they would be improved by the tailor.

With the cargo pocket, he's limited to the inseam for adjustment. Do we use the same method as on the shirts, inside out and start pinning? I assume he'll know what to do with the crotch, but since I have no backside to speak of, I'm thinking he takes any slack out of the back, rather than the front, so I can stop looking like I've had an accident?

I wear these with work boots, which I would wear to the fitting, but I expect about 2-3 inches loose would allow enough movement.

Again, thanks for any advice, and thanks for reading my wall of text.

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