You may think that your new jacket fits perfectly, but with a few precise alterations, a tailor can help you look noticeably taller and slimmer.
• Find a pro.
Ask the saleswomen at a designer boutique if they can recommend a tailor. If you're in New York City or Los Angeles, Lars Nord, a tailoring agency, can refer you to someone good. Sewing skills aren't enough; inquire whether a prospective tailor has design training. She should be able to answer questions about how a fabric will drape. Also, be specific about the piece you need altered. Some tailors are great at altering suits; others are better with chiffon or knits.
• Follow your body.
As a general rule, clothes look best when they just skim your silhouette. Pieces that are so tight that you can see every bone, muscle, and artery will actually make you look heavy. If they're too loose and baggy, you'll look shapeless.
• Trim your top.
Most jackets are too wide across the shoulders. A tailor can solve this problem by taking in the jacket from the center back seam. Sleeves should be slim enough to show off the shape of the arms but loose enough that you can wear a thin sweater underneath. The bottom of the jacket should hit at the hip bones—any shorter or longer tends to make people look squat and bulky.
• Keep your pants on.
Pants often have too much fabric in the zipper and crotch, which can make them bunch. A tailor can take in the seam that runs down back of the pants, so the front lies flat. Trouser pockets can add unnecessary girth to your hips. I usually take out the pocket bag entirely and stitch the opening closed. Be sure there's a break at the top of your shoes, so the pants aren't too short.
• Skirt around it.
Skirts look best when they hit just above or just below the knees. But avoid shin-length skirts because they tend to make people look shorter and bowlegged.