I went against rule number one when considering tailoring modifications–altering your jacket shoulders. For a (recovering) vintage collector like me, the risk was completely worthwhile in order to try to salvage some of my most prized pieces.
For a bit of backstory–as many of you know, I love vintage and thrifted clothing. I don’t have to tell you all the benefits, other than the fact that you can find a lot of sartorial details for an affordable price that you can’t normally find in off the rack clothing. If you pick the right pieces (and not just buy haphazardly), you’ll have a great garment that will only need some minor alterations. That’s how I’ve been able to possess an expansive wardrobe! But it does come with some caveats.
When I started buying clothes, I began with a collection of clothing from the 30s-40s because I liked many of the details: I appreciated the classic jacket length, the high rise of the trouser, the wide, blunt-shaped lapels, and the fabrics. What I didn’t like
Even though I started selling a few of my vintage garments or passing them onto my friends, there was a handful of pieces that I just couldn’t get rid of. One
I decided to bring the suit jacket to my tailor to see what he could do since it didn’t make sense for me to part with a suit that I almost loved. Some of my friends have had some success in reducing shoulder padding in jackets and since I trust my tailor completely, I thought there was no harm in seeing what would end up happening after some major garment surgery. He took one look at the jacket and said that he would do his best.
The result wasn’t a
But I wasn’t done yet; I wanted to see what more we could do!
After altering an unstructured Uniqlo jacket, I asked if he could alter a shoulder to be just like that, with no padding whatsoever, just completely soft. To my surprise (since he’s an old school tailor) he said yes! So I brought in one of the first vintage garments I ever owned: a 1940’s houndstooth tweed jacket that also has wide notch lapels and giant patch pockets. It didn’t have as heavy padding as the gabardine one, but it was still too square for contemporary style. My tailor worked his magic and the result was the slouchy shoulder that I had always wanted. Now nothing in my closet is safe from shoulder surgery.
At the time of writing, I’ve gone through my entire closet, picking which ones I wanted to alter and which ones I wanted to give up. In the end, I ended up altering quite a few 1940’s jackets to have unstructured shoulders, but I think it was worth it. I can finally wear them out without looking too costumey or only relegating them to
Note the square shoulders in the “Before” picture.
If you’re used to custom clothing or quality ready to wear, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re like me and want to hold onto those vintage pieces, I think it’s definitely worth a try. I don’t think taking the shoulder padding out affects the vintage look all too much since there are always the lapel styles and quarter details that remain the same. It’s not a betrayal of vintage tailoring. In fact, I’ve kept a few pieces in their original condition, though they are suits and will be worn as a set.
If you try it, I wouldn’t expect the same results, but you might find some success. Good luck!
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