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Guide to Suit Alterations - Considerations for Vests

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Unlike a suit jacket or pants, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done in terms of alterations to a waistcoat (otherwise known as a vest). A vest construction is very straight-forward, and the main areas that relate to fit are the girth and length. Nevertheless, a perfectly-fitting vest flatters a masculine frame with clean lines and immaculate structure. The main guidelines to a proper-fitting waistcoat are:

  • A snug but not too tight fit close to the body
  • The vest front should cover the waistband of the pants
  • The shirt should never show between the pants and vest

What about using that strap at the back? Most waistcoats have an adjustable strap to allow you to cinch in the waist. However, if using the strap results in a messy look with a lot of fabric bunching, it’s best to get it altered.

A well-fitted waistcoat not only looks good, but gives you freedom of movement

Problem: Too tight/loose

Price: $35-50

Can it be fixed?: It’s highly likely that you can’t let out a waistcoat at all, as there’s no or very minimal extra fabric built into the sides. It can, however, be taken in. There’s a caveat: your tailor might have to adjust your arm holes, to compensate for the way it will lie if the seams are taken in a large amount.

Problem: Too long

Price: $35-100+

Can it be fixed?: With some skill and daring, a waistcoat can be shortened. The bottom has a unique shape, and if your tailor decides to shorten from there, will need to be re-cut and finished, making it a costly alteration. More commonly, vests are shortened from the seams atop the shoulders,making it a less expensive operation. There’s only a slim margin, however, for how much a vest can be shortened before the proportions are thrown off. If removing from the shoulder seam, the vestline will look out of place and if removing from the bottom, pockets and buttons will need to be moved to maintain balance, costing you a lot more.

A vest that's too tight won't do your figure any favours

Problem: Too short

Price: N/A

Can it be fixed?: Unfortunately, tailors can’t work magic and make fabric appear out of nowhere to lengthen your waistcoat.

Problem: Armhole too tight/loose

Price: $60-90

Can it be fixed?: If the armholes are cutting into your biceps and armpits, or if they’re so loose that they’re bulging out, they can be reshaped. It’s hard, but not impossible. Luckily, unlike a jacket, there aren’t any sleeves to complicate matters.

Want to find out more? Read our guide to costs of suit jacket and pants alterations.

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