Overcoats are the stylish solution to your winter blues. Essentially a coat that extends as far down as the knee, the overcoat provides a timeless look, while keeping you warm during the colder months.
The issue with overcoats though is finding one that fits your figure like a glove. If the sleeves are too short or long, the buttons aren’t in the right place or the overcoat is the wrong length for you, then you might want to consider tailoring it to better suit your needs.
So can you tailor an overcoat? Yes, you can tailor an overcoat. In most cases, you can make a poorly-fitted overcoat look like a million dollars with a few adjustments here and there.
A well-fitted overcoat would be a valuable addition to any wardrobe, so if you’ve just got your hands on one, or you’ve had one for a while that could do with some minor adjustments, you’ve come to the right place.
First, we’ll take a look at your options when it comes to tailoring an overcoat, and then we’ll dive into a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.
Tailoring Options For An Overcoat
There are several ways that you can tailor an overcoat, from taking on the challenge yourself, to seeking help from an experienced tailor.
If you don’t have the requisite skills to mend fabric and make adjustments, a tailor will be your best bet.
Find A Professional Tailor
If you’re looking for a crisp look with your overcoat, then you’ll most likely want the adjustments to be carried out by a professional tailor.
There are a number of ways in which a professional tailor can help you achieve your desired overcoat look, and we’ll go through each one now.
It’s important to know exactly how an overcoat should fit to assess whether or not adjustments and alterations are really necessary. A tailor is an expert at analyzing how clothing should fit, and an overcoat is no different.
Starting from the top, the shoulders are one of the most important areas of the overcoat. If the overcoat is too small or hangs off of your shoulders, then you’ll need to get the necessary adjustments.
How An Overcoat Should Fit
- The seams of the shoulders should end at the same point as your actual shoulders. This will make a huge difference when it comes to looking at the part, and this alteration will add a lot of value to the overcoat alone. Especially since you can’t put a price on clothes that fit you perfectly.
- The sleeves should graze the top of your hand. A simple way to do this is to bend your wrist when your arm is hanging by your side. If the sleeve doesn’t graze the top of your hand, you guessed it, an adjustment is in order.
- The body of the overcoat should allow room for movement, but not feel baggy. A simple test to evaluate whether or not the body fits well is to button up your overcoat. If you’re swimming in your coat, then you’re going to want to get it taken in.
- For this adjustment, you should work closely with your tailor to get the best results.
- The bottom of the overcoat should always fall just above your knee. Somewhere in the region between your upper and lower thigh is a good length to aim for.
Customize The Overcoat
While you can’t be as creative as you would with a nylon jacket, for example, you can certainly add some personal touches to your overcoat.
Change The Lapel
The first thing you can do to customize your overcoat at the tailor is by making changes to the lapel.
The lapel is the most recognizable feature of most dress jackets and overcoats. The lapel is the part on each side of the collar that is folded back on itself.
When it comes to customizing the lapel, you have a few options:
- Notch lapel – the most common lapel, which resembles that of a traditional suit jacket.
- Peak lapel – slightly more bespoke, the tip of the lapel points upwards and is generally considered more formal.
- Shawl lapel – simple a continuous strip of fabric that goes from one end of the collar to the next, without any added texture or shape.
You can also adjust the width of the lapel. This can be useful for the style of overcoat you wish to have. A slim-fitted overcoat will require a slimmer lapel for example.
Buttons and pockets are the other main ways you can play with the style of your overcoat to get the desired look. There are a variety of ways a tailor can adjust a pocket or the style of a button in order to add your personal touch to the overcoat.
Pocket buttons and sleeve buttons are there to be altered, should you wish to get creative with your overcoat. You could discuss the best options with your tailor if this seems too intimidating to do by yourself.
Do It Yourself
While it may be more difficult to attempt to make adjustments to an overcoat yourself, it can certainly be done.
The main kind of adjustment you can do yourself, which will make a big difference to the fit of your overcoat, is to alter the length of the sleeves. This way, you will be able to feel more comfortable in your overcoat and make it look like it was made just for you.
Other minor alterations you could have a go at yourself include changing out the buttons or sewing up pockets.
You can also create an entirely new overcoat by following the pattern in this book.
In the next section, we’ll go through the method for how you can modify the sleeve length yourself.
How To Tailor An Overcoat
This will be a step-by-step process for reducing the length of the sleeves of your overcoat.
The equipment you’ll need:
- Thread and needle or sewing machine
- Tape measure
- First up, you will need to lay your overcoat flat on a table or other flat surface. Mark the sleeve at the length at which you’d like it to be. You can use chalk for this if you have it since it will show up on any material.
- To assess what the right sleeve length is, you can do the test described earlier in the article, and figure out what would be a good length for you.
- Now, detach anything that is on the sleeve, as you will place these back in later. It’s also worth leaving a bit of space for a seam, so bear that in mind when you make the markings on your sleeve.
- Now cut around the line you just made in the sleeve with your scissors, until you can completely remove it. From there, you can neaten things up by trimming off any excess fabric while you’re still holding the scissors.
- Make sure this new length is the one you want since you won’t want to go through the whole process again once you’ve stitched up your new sleeve.
- Next, fold the fabric into the sleeve, and pin this new sleeve end to secure it in place. Pin the inside of the jacket too after folding it over. Start with a basting stitch using your thread and needle.
- It’s recommended to use a basting stitch since it will be easier to backtrack and undo any mistakes should you need to. After all, you don’t want to risk ruining your overcoat.
- Once you have finished going around the new sleeve end with the basting stitch, you can remove the pins, then begin with an invisible stitch.
Remember, this should all be done on the inside of the sleeve since you don’t want to see stitches on the outside. Finally, press the hemlines together, et voila! Your new overcoat sleeves should be ready to go.