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How Much Does It Cost To Alter A Dress Shirt?

Posted on: 20th Apr, 2018

It’s a question our experts occasionally get from our customers here at Acorn – and like many of the best frequently asked questions, it’s not necessarily a straightforward answer! If you’ve gone to the time, effort and cost to procure a dress shirt, obviously a vital step is to make sure it fits properly. Sometimes the sleeves are a little too long, or it’s a little bit wide across the chest. Now, you could try and make the alterations yourself, but in almost every case we’d always advise going to a professional tailor. Here’s where the various factors affecting cost can come in – and here’s a bit about what to expect.

The Factors Affecting The Cost Of Altering A Dress Shirt

As we’ve touched upon, exactly how much it costs to alter a dress shirt can vary from tailor to tailor. You can usually find their rough pricing estimates online, but it’s a very precise art with costs calculated on a case-by-case basis, which means it’s often very tricky to pin down an exact cost right from the off. It’s a good idea to ring the tailor and see if they can be any more specific, but you’ll rarely be able to get them to agree to an exact price. To alter a dress shirt, you should have at least £25 to £50 ready, but always be prepared for those prices to rise!

Generally, the factors that affect cost can be categorised in three main parts:

  1. The prestige of the tailor
  2. The nature of the alteration
  3. The type of shirting fabric involved

So, let’s examine them briefly in a bit more detail.

1. The Prestige Of The Tailor

professional tailor

There’s no real shortcut to picking your tailor to perform your alterations – as with a lot of things, mostly it’s just a matter of shopping around and seeing what appeals to you best. Amongst your choices are independent tailors, or those you can find in-store at Debenhams, John Lewis and House of Fraser. You may find lower costs at in-store tailors, but they can have much busier schedules, which might mean they’re not able to give your dress shirt the time you think it deserves. Meanwhile, independent tailors can often be more expensive, but may well have more time to give your dress shirt a greater degree of attention than in-store tailors.

If they’re a particularly experienced tailor or a well known name – those on Savile Row are prime examples – you’ll have peace of mind in knowing the job will most likely be very well done, but there might be an associated rise in cost.

2. The Nature Of The Alteration

Your aim should not be to save as much money as possible, but to get the very best job done on your prized dress shirt. Don’t necessarily assume that the first tailor you find will be the one to do the very best job, as some tailors are better at certain alterations than others. What’s more, they may even specialise in the kind of alteration you want to make – if they do, it can be a further guarantee of quality, but also again of cost! That said, try not to focus too much on the numbers; it would be a mistake to use pricing as your only basis for picking a tailor. It’s always worth trying to find out about any specialism first, and maybe sizing up their prices later.

shirt alteration

Specialisms aside, it’s also worth bearing in mind that some types of alterations will be naturally costlier than others, because they’re more complex or time-consuming. For example, making darts in the shirt will obviously be naturally easier than replacing a collar or cuffs.

If the cuffs need replacing, it will require you or the tailor to source another 30cms of extra fabric, while both a new collar and new cuffs would need around 60cms of fabric. This is, of course, assuming you can find the original fabric – if not, a white collar and cuffs is a common solution. Taking in the side seams, shortening sleeves and shortening the length of the shirt can all be done by most alteration outfits, but replacing the collar and the cuffs should be done by a proper shirtmaker.

3. The Type of Shirting Fabric

Obviously, the quality of the fabric and the material will have a significant impact on the service, as some fabrics are more delicate (and so require a far more careful hand) than others. This means that not only will the job take longer, but it may well require a more skilled tailor, who will naturally charge more for their services. Silk and cashmere, for example, will naturally be more expensive than traditional Egyptian cotton shirting fabrics.

Of course, proper silk shirts will mostly be in the minority! You’re far more likely to have a dress shirt made from our most popular fabrics, such as our Monarch plain white dress shirt fabric. The good news is that if that’s the case, you’ll automatically be making at least a slight saving on your tailoring right off the bat! If the Monarch isn’t quite to your taste, we’ve got plenty of other options in our wide range of solid fabrics, many of which are ideal for dress shirts and similar occasions. If you have any questions or need any advice about a specific fabric, we’re always happy to help – just give us a call on 01282 698 662!