Trousers about to be tailoredAs referenced in our guide to jacket alterations, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to buy a pair of pants that require no alterations, especially if you’re a stickler for fit (and if you’re a regular reading this blog, we presume that you are).

While there is a possibility that you’ll be able to wear pants tailoring-free, the chances of this happening are slim.

To that end, you will find a list of some common trouser alterations below, along with their cost and feasibility.

Before you jump in, however, you may also be interested in the other pages within this series on tailoring and alterations: how to find a tailor, jackets, dress shirts and finally waistcoats.

What Can & Can’t Be Tailored On Trousers / Pants

Trouser and Pant Tailoring Guide - Bespoke Unit

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Easy Trouser Tailoring Alterations Graphic

Easy Tailoring Fixes

These are ultimately the kind of fixes one should expect when buying off the rack. All men may have been created equal, but for sure not “average”.

Over time you will learn to spot which styles fit you best off the bat, and know how to budget for your specific common alterations.

1. Shorten / Lengthen Inseam

Sometimes our trousers are too short or too long. This is a simple alteration that any tailor should be able to do. Some brands will sell trousers with unfinished hems and will simply finish them with your preferred break when you buy them.

Trousers ready to have leg shortened

As a side note, pant length is one aspect of menswear where we believe that you can follow trend as closely as you like because it’s easy and inexpensive to alter. Specifically, the trend for the past couple of years has leaned toward a breakless pant that shows off your socks. Given fashion’s cyclical nature, we can infer that the trend will swing in the opposite direction at some point and a more generous break will be de rigueur. When that happens, you can just have your tailor let your trousers down.

Estimated Cost: $12 for plain bottoms, $20 for cuffed bottoms (turnups)

2. Waist In / Out

Pants falling off of you? Are they so tight around the middle that you’re having trouble breathing?

A decent tailor can take care of this for you pretty easily, just be sure that you let him/her know what feels comfortable.

Estimated Cost: $20

3. Seat In / Out

This alteration generally goes hand-in-hand with the waistband alteration mentioned above. When a waistband gets taken in, the seat of the pants (the part that covers your rear end) will often end up with extra fabric that has to be removed. When it’s so tight that you see horizontal lines across your derriere, it’s time to let the seat out.

Estimated Cost: $15

4. Crotch In / Out

Sometimes the crotch in your pants is a little too roomy or perhaps not roomy enough. Some of us are better endowed than others. Work with your tailor to find a happy medium in which your pants look good relative to the biological reality we all have going on at the fork in our trousers.

Estimated Cost: $15

5. Taper Legs

Dig a slim look? Your tailor should be able to taper your pant legs to accommodate this so long as there isn’t so much material that the work will look odd when completed.

Estimated Cost: $20-$25

Adding braces buttons to trousers6. Add Braces / Suspender Buttons

Have you made the decision to start wearing suspenders (or “braces” in British English)? Good for you! Since you know to avoid clip-on suspenders like the plague, it would also behoove you to know that your tailor can add suspender buttons to the inside of your waistband quickly and easily. Bring your suspenders with you just in case this is something your tailor doesn’t do very often so he can have the best idea in terms of the placement of the buttons.

Estimated Cost: $10

7. Take In Sides (a.k.a. Flatten Hips)

Sometimes you have this great pair of pants that resemble jodhpurs a little too much around the upper thigh. Your tailor can trim that out for you with relative ease.

Estimated Cost: $30

8. Replace Hook & Eye

Not an alteration so much as a repair, but if you’ve got some nice trousers whose closing mechanism broke down, there’s no reason to buy new ones if you don’t have to.

Estimated Cost: $15

9. New Zipper

Replacement Trousers Zipper

Zippers are moving parts, so they can go kaput after a while. Again, not an alteration per se, but something you should definitely utilize your tailor for.

Estimated Cost: $30

Tough Trouser Tailoring Alterations Graphic

Tougher But Feasible Alterations

1. Swing Creases

Depending on your posture, the crease of your pants may not line up well with the center of your leg (ideally, it will bisect the knee vertically). A very good tailor can “swing” them to make them line up properly. Note that this is typically an alteration that’s done in custom houses, not in most ready to wear scenarios.

Estimated Cost: $50

Belt loop on dress pants2. Make New Belt Loops

A rare job, your tailor can create new belt loops for you if there’s enough material in the rest of the pants that would allow him/her to do so.

Pro tip: If you’re thinking about new belt loops, we suggest adding brace buttons instead. It’s cheaper and will force you to look fantastic in braces.

Estimated Cost: $50

Difficult Trouser Tailoring Alterations Graphic

Difficult, Impossible, & Last Resort Fixes

These are the kind of fixes you may need to walk away from (oh that pun was intended!).

Ultimately the cost doesn’t usually warrant the reward. The only cases in which these alterations might be okay is if the garment has sentimental value (i.e. passed down from a parent or grandparent) or the fabric is of high monetary or personal style value.

Just know that these expensive fixes also require the most experienced hands so only trust with the best tailors.

1. Remove Pleats

Bought a suit with pleated pants back in the nineties and have now decided that flat-front is the way to go? By all means, have the pleats removed. Beware that this is a difficult alteration and your tailor is going to make you pay out the nose for it. We recommend this only if the trousers have some sentimental value, and even then we suggest thinking long and hard about it.

Estimated Cost: $120

2. Lower Waistband

Sort of like lowering a collar on a jacket, but for a waistband. This is labor-intensive work and we recommend trying to find a different suit if the pants require this much work.

Again we’re big fans of braces / suspenders, so would want to be going the other way in such case.

Estimated Cost: $120

3. Re-Cut Entire Pants

Why tailors even offer this as an option is beyond us, but that’s a different conversation for a different article. If you have a pair of pants that is so large that they’d have to be torn apart and put back together again, an excellent tailor can do that. A scrupulous tailor will likely advise you to purchase new trousers, as do we here at Bespoke Unit.

The only reasons we can think of to do this is if the trousers in question are of such sentimental or raw cloth value that you have no other option.

A Final Word On Trouser Alterations

As with any garment, the decisions you make around alterations will take into account not just your time frame and budget, but also your emotional connection to it.

For example, if you received a bunch of your grandfather’s suits upon his passing, you might consider spending money on alterations that you might not otherwise so that they can live again, so to speak. If you just picked up a cool-looking pair of trousers at a thrift shop whose alterations would cost ten times the price you paid, you might consider just donating them and eating the sunk cost.

Value is in the eye of the beholder, and remember fit fit fit!