I have several tailors on speed dial. There’s Raees Bhai in Santacruz who does simple suits. I won’t trust him with expensive fabrics, but he can copy embroidery like a pro. There’s Anwar Master, who gives the best fit EVER, but the “bas abhi ready ho raha hai” saga which goes on for 10 days drives me up the wall. There’s this lovely, well-spoken gentleman who runs a little shop in the garage of a Bandra building. Very professional, has a fitting room, delivers promptly, with an SMS asking you to come and collect your garment, which will be ironed and packed in a sealed bag. If only he was slightly less opinionated – my outfit, my wish, Mister! Then there are the alteration experts. Salim Bhai, who is amongst my most favourite people on earth. There’s old Uncle Bob in Bandra who’s a real character.
It would be safe to say that I spend as much time with my assortment of tailors as I do with my friends. Over the years, I’ve picked up some small little tips and tricks on how to get the best out of your tailor when you want to get an outfit stitched – these are my little secrets. And because I love you all so much, I’m gonna share!
1. Most important, find a tailor who doesn’t creep you out.
He’s going to be taking measurements of your chest and hips and having to do little nips and tucks when you go in for a fitting. If he seems like a lech, steer clear.
2. Find a tailor who has a fitting room.
Don’t expect air-conditioning and fresh flowers and three-way mirrors – just a small private space with a full-length mirror should suffice. This will save you a LOT of time. Without a fitting room, you’ll end up going home, trying on your kurta and realizing it needs to be taken in at the waist, or that the neck gapes. And then you trek back to the tailor’s shop for alterations. Pain in the butt!
3. Find a reputable tailor, not the one who gives you the cheapest rates.
The good chaps really know what they are doing. It’s all in the cutting of the fabric. And an inexperienced tailor may end up ruining expensive fabric while you’re focusing on a few bucks. Not a risk you want to take.
4. Figure out your tailor’s area of expertise.
Different tailors specialize in different styles. If you expect someone who makes bridal gowns to stitch an anarkali suit, you may be disappointed. Have a chat with the tailor and ask him what his speciality is.
5. Listen to the tailor’s advice!
He knows his job, and if you tell him how to do it, it’s only going to piss him off. He also has a way better understanding of how fabrics fall and how to cut them best. Really, just listen. If you are not convinced that he knows what he’s talking about, find someone else you feel you can trust.
6. Don’t rush the poor chap.
This is something we’ve all done at some point. “Masterji, kal chahiye, please please please!” The poor chap’s going to have to push someone else’s job aside and do a seriously rushed job on yours, and there’s no way that the finishing will be the same.
7. Don’t expect him to read your mind!
Again, a common mistake. “Masterji, woh Kareena ne jo woh waale picture mein, uss gaane mein pehna tha, mujhe woh same kurta bana do?” For one, he’s probably not watched the movie. Or he’s imagining the floor-length anarkali she wore in the first half of the song, when you’re actually referring to the fitted kurta and patiala salwar she wore in a fleeting 30-second sequence at the end. Take photos, screenshots, magazine cuttings, anything visual.
8. Ask friends who are in fashion for recommendations.
They’ll know tailors who can do a great knock-off, and possibly people who worked for designers in the past and have now branched out on their own.
9. Once you find a great tailor, stick with him.
Give him regular business. He’ll come to understand your style and the fit you prefer. And when you seriously need something the next day, he’ll happily oblige!