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Can a Tailor Make Your Clothes Bigger?

If something like a suit can be taken in, does the inverse hold true as well?

In America, weight gain is seemingly inevitable — one of those death and taxes sort of things. But so is weight loss, with many of us spending our adulthoods yo-yoing between the two. For the latter, a tailor is a godsend, capable of preserving your wardrobe despite the fact that you are now a completely different size. But what about the former? If you’ve put on a few extra pounds, can a tailor work their magic and make your existing clothes larger? 

According to Art Lewin, a master designer of bespoke suits, the vast majority of his clients ask to have their clothes tailored to be smaller and slimmer. “We do many re-cuts on clients’ older suits to make them look like the new slim-cut suits,” he tells me. But he does estimate about 20 percent of his clientele inquire about the opposite — can he open up their now-tight garments a bit?

The answer, he says, largely depends on how much leftover material is hidden in the folds of a suit. Generally speaking, most trousers can be let out about two inches at the waist, which definitely provides a little extra room. There’s less material to work with, however, in the butt and the thighs. “About a half-inch in both,” Lewin clarifies.

Your jacket is a mixed bag. On the plus side of the ledger, the side seams each have about half an inch of fabric to work with. “The back center seat stitch has about half an inch, too,” Lewin says. But on the minus side, if muscle gain is the issue — especially in the arms — there isn’t any extra fabric to unstitch and restitch the shoulders of your suit. 

That’s why, in a lot of cases, Lewin believes you’re better off just buying a new suit. Because the other big thing about all of that enlargement is the bill. Or as Lewin puts it in dollar and cents terms, “To recut a suit — up or down — can cost as much as $295.”