A Surgeon for Clothing: Tailoring Custom Suits to Fit Perfectly

Master tailor Dale Alfred of Mr. Sid in Newton Centre knows a lot about making suits fit perfectly. Here he talks about what goes into each suit and what makes specialty stores like Mr. Sid different from other stores.

What can you do to make a suit fit perfectly?

It all depends on the physical features of the customer. We can adjust for any physical imperfections and still make the suit fit just right. The alteration can be simple if, for example, one shoulder is lower than the other. Or, a shoulder might be high or square; something like that would reflect in the jacket and could cause bunching.

More and more, off-the-rack jackets can be problematic for men who have an athletic build, with a larger chest and smaller waist. A wide back or protruding chest will require an alteration, to make sure the lapels lay flat. But we can’t move buttons too much or else it will become double-breasted—which you don’t want—so parts of the suit need to be removed. It’s a lot of hands-on work that needs an attentive eye and superior tailoring skill. It can get pretty complex.

In other cases, I have to remove the sleeves, adjust both the front and back, and sew them back together perfectly. I’m kind of like a surgeon for clothing.

How’s the tailoring at Mr. Sid different from that of other stores?

Because tailoring is so time-consuming and requires so much skill, a lot of stores don’t invest in qualified tailors. Sure, those stores have some experience in sewing—but they aren’t capable of doing the alterations we do here.

A customer’s biggest concern is the fit—they want a good fit. Simple alterations can be completed within the hour, but for more difficult cases, it could take up to two or three days. We do everything and anything possible to make every piece of clothing fit as if it were made exclusively for our customers.

Do you do more work by hand or by machine?

We do both, but more by hand. The collar and under-collar is done by hand. Sleeves, if attaching, will be done by hand—stitching as well. The less critical parts of a jacket can be done by machine.

How did you learn the trade?

To be honest, it’s a dying trade. I went to school for two years in Trinidad and then worked as an apprentice for five years. There’s a dwindling number of qualified tailors here in America, with most coming from different countries where tailoring is still considered an art, where people don’t buy clothing, they go to the tailor and have it made. Here at Mr. Sid, we have two full-time qualified tailors, a seamstress and seven part-timers all working to make every impossible job possible. The sky’s the limit.

Places like Mr. Sid keep the art of tailoring alive in America. Stop into the store at 1211 Centre Street, Newton Centre, MA 02459, call 617-916-2948 to learn more about finding the perfect suit for your wardrobe.