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.]] A tailor is a person whose occupation is to sew and scissor menswear style jackets and the skirts or trousers that go with them.

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


and tailor in the Financial District of Boston, Massachusetts]]
  • 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;Template:Dn 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

[[File:|thumb|Pinking shears]] The profession's denomination, Tailor, is a common surname in many languages: Taylor (English), Schneider (German), Szabó (Hungarian), 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



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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tailor (plural tailors)

  1. A person who makes, repairs, or alters clothes professionally, especially suits and men's clothing.
  2. The fish Pomatomus saltatrix.

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Related terms


to tailor

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to tailor (third-person singular simple present tailors, present participle tailoring, simple past and past participle tailored)

  1. (transitive) To make, repair, or alter clothes.
  2. (transitive) To restrict (something) in order to meet a particular need, e.g. a narrowly tailored law.



  • Australian Fish and How to Catch Them, Richard Allan, Landsdowne Publishing, 1990, ISBN 1-86302-674-6.

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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