Tailor: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A tailor attending to a customer in Hong Kong.

A tailor is a person who makes, repairs, or alters clothing professionally, especially suits and men's clothing.

Although the term dates to the thirteenth century, tailor took on its modern sense in the late eighteenth century, and now refers to makers of men's and women's suits, coats, trousers, and similar garments, usually of wool, linen, or silk.

The term refers to a set of specific hand and machine sewing and pressing techniques that are unique to the construction of traditional jackets. Retailers of tailored suits often take their services internationally, traveling to various cities, allowing the client to be measured locally.

Traditional tailoring is called bespoke tailoring in the United Kingdom, where the heart of the trade is in London's Savile Row, and custom tailoring in the United States and Hong Kong. This is unlike made to measure which uses pre existing patterns. A bespoke garment or suit is completely original and unique to each customer.

Famous fictional tailors include the tailor in The Emperor's New Clothes and Brave Little Tailor. A more recent title is John le Carré's The Tailor of Panama.


Related terms

Tailoring first fitting in Italy
  • A tailor-made is a woman's suit consisting of a (usually) woolen or tweed coat and shirt; the name arose during the Edwardian period.
  • As an adjective, tailor-made (from the second half of the twentieth century usually simplified to tailored) refers to clothing made by or in the style of clothes made by a tailor, characterized by simplicity of cut and trim and fine (often hand) finishing; as a women's clothing style tailored as opposed to dressmaker.
  • Rodeo tailor is a term for a creator of the flamboyant costumes typical of country and western musicians, characterized by extensive hand embroidery, an abundance of rhinestones, and cowboy details such as pearl snaps and arrowhead pockets.
  • In some documents, tailor means adjust, and tailoring means adjusting.

Sewing professional is the most general term for those who make their living by sewing, teaching, writing about sewing, or retailing sewing supplies. They may work out of their home, a studio, or retail shop, and may work part-time or full-time. They may be any or all or the following sub-specialties:

  • A custom clothier makes custom garments one at a time, to order, to meet an individual customer's needs and preferences.
  • A custom dressmaker specializes in women's custom apparel, including day dresses, careerwear, suits, evening or bridal wear, sportswear, or lingerie.
  • A tailor makes custom menswear-style jackets and the trousers or skirts that go with them, for men or women.
  • An alterations specialist, or alterationist adjusts the fit of completed garments, usually ready-to-wear, or restyles them. Note that while all tailors can do alterations, by no means can all alterationists do tailoring.
  • Designers conceive combinations of line, proportion, color, and texture for intended garments. They may or may not have sewing or patternmaking skills, and may only sketch or conceptualize garments. They work with people who know how to actually construct the garment.
  • Patternmakers flat draft the shapes and sizes of the numerous pieces of a garment by hand, using paper and measuring tools or by computer using AutoCAD based software, or by draping muslin onto a dressform. The resulting pattern pieces must comprise the intended design of the garment and they must fit the intended wearer.
  • A wardrobe consultant, fashion advisor, or stylist recommends styles and colors that are flattering to a client.
  • A Seamstress is someone who sews seams, or, a machine operator in a factory who may not have the skills to make garments 'from scratch' or to fit them onto a real body. This term is not a synonym for dressmaker. Seamstress is an old, unkind euphemism for prostitute.

Tailor as a surname

The profession's denomination, Tailor, is a common surname in many languages: Taylor (English), Schneider (German), Szabó (Hungarian), Croitoru (Romanian), Sastre (Spanish), Krawiec (Kravitz) (Polish), Portnoy (Russian), Krejčí (Czech), Darji (Hindi/Urdu), Kleermaker(s) (Dutch).

In the movie Meeting Venus (written and directed by István Szabó), many of the characters have the cognates ("blood relative") of the surname Tailor from different languages.


  • Deckert, Barbara: Sewing for Plus Sizes: Design, Fit and Construction for Ample Apparel, Taunton, 1999, Appendix B: How to Find, Select, and Work With a Custom Clothier, pp. 142-143.

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

TAILOR (Fr. tailleur, from tailler, to cut, Lat. talea, a thin rod, a cutting for planting), one who cuts out and makes clothes. Formerly the tailor, or cissor, made apparel for both men and women, and not merely outer garments, but also articles of linen and the padding and lining of armour - whence the style "Taylors and Linen Armourers" applied to the Merchant Taylors Company of the City of London in their earliest charters. But the word is now generally limited to those who make the outer (cloth) garments for men, and less frequently for women, though a phrase such as "shirt-tailor" is occasionally met with. In modern usage, too, it commonly has the implication that the garments are made to the order, and to the measure, of the individual purchaser, as opposed to ready-made clothing, which means articles of apparel manufactured in large quantities in a series of stock or standard sizes, such that any purchaser may expect to find among them one that will fit him with more or less accuracy. The clothing trade was originally confined to goods of the poorest grades, but it has come, especially in America, to include articles of good, though not of the first, quality. It probably first came into existence at seaport towns, where, to meet the convenience of sailors returning from long voyages and requiring their wardrobes to be replenished at short notice, the "outfitters" kept stocks of ready-made garments on sale; but it made no considerable progress until after the middle of the 19th century, when the introduction of the sewing-machine brought about the possibility of manufacturing in large quantities. Its development was attended with gradually increasing subdivision of labour and, to a large extent, with the disappearance of the tailor as a skilled craftsman. The first step was for a garment, such as a coat, to be completed by the joint efforts of a family. Then followed the "task system," which in America was the result of the influx of Russian Jews that began about 1875. Under it a team of three men, with a "presser" and a girl to sew on the buttons, divided the work between them. Payment was made by the "task," i.e. a specified number of garments, the money being divided between the members of the team in certain proportions. Often several teams would be run by a contractor, who naturally selected the cheapest workshops he could find and packed them as full of workers as possible; and when through stress of competition he had to accept lower prices the plan he adopted was to increase the number of garments to a task, leaving the pay unaltered. The result was the introduction of many of the worst features of the "sweating system," the workers having to work excessively long hours in order to finish the task, which in some cases meant as many as twenty coats a day. In the "factory" or "Boston" system the subdivision is still more minute, and as many as one hundred persons may be concerned in the production of one coat. The amount of tailoring skill required in a worker is even further reduced, but the premises come under the regulation of the factory laws. The factory system has also cheapened production in a legitimate way, because it has enabled mechanical power for driving sewingmachines, and also expensive labour-saving machinery, to be introduced to an extent not economically possible in small shops.

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Simple English

A tailor is a person whose job is to make clothes to fit people. A tailor might make a new piece of clothing, or change an item so that it fits better. They also mend (fix) clothes. A tailor is also called a seamster, or a seamstress for a woman.


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