How & When You Should Tip Your Tailor or Seamstress

You’re picking up some custom tailoring, major alterations, or maybe just some hemmed pants and it’s time to check out. Your tailor hands you the bill. Do you tip on the bill or just pay the full amount?

It’s a tough question to answer since there isn’t exactly a standard tipping rule like in other service industries. It depends on the work completed, your satisfaction, and your relationship with your tailor.

In this article, we’ll cover tipping specifically in this industry, when you should tip your tailor/seamstress, how much you should tip, and other ways to show gratitude and build a relationship. 

Tipping in the Service Industry

Typically, we reserve adding on gratuity to meals at a restaurant, delivery drivers, coffee shops, cocktails and drinks at bars, and possibly haircuts. Seeing a theme here? 

The conventional wisdom to tipping in the service industry is to accommodate service professionals who we perceive to make below minimum wage, ensure better service, and express appreciation for exceptional service.

There is an unspoken pressure to tip especially in the US because of that kind of valuation and it’s even become expected. You can reference this article on tipping etiquette for more information. It discusses this kind of “tipping culture”. But how does this relate to getting your pants altered? 

Well, now we take that unspoken pressure with us into other service industries, like tailor and alteration services, where tipping isn’t necessarily standard practice, but we feel that we need to so that great service is guaranteed and we don’t look stingy. 

Tipping for Tailoring

Tailoring is undoubtedly a service industry. You bring clothes in or have custom orders and are met with a service to adjust or create what you need. No argument there.

However, it’s not standard practice to provide a tip. There are a few reasons:

Tailors & Seamstresses Are Not Under Paid

Tailoring and alteration services are not viewed in the same way we view food industry ones. Specifically, we don’t usually perceive tailors to be underpaid like waiters and waitresses and therefore don’t carry the burden to make up any kind of wage gap.

They Own Their Own Business

In many cases, tailors own their own businesses and interact with clients upfront. Owners aren’t usually tipped under the assumption that their prices are set fairly and cover their expenses. In other words, you pay to cover the service and don’t need to tip to help out.

Tailoring Included In Purchase Price

In house tailoring at department stores or menswear shops usually carries a fee or is covered by your purchase. So again, the transaction is considered complete at that point. However, tailors and seamstresses in the case are often paid hourly.

Generally, your tailor or seamstress is not going to expect you to add gratuity onto the bill. In other words, you don’t need to feel the silent pressure to do so.

When You Should Tip Your Tailor

While a lot of us might end the discussion with the idea that paying the fair price is good enough, there are a few instances in which you should consider offering something extra on top of the bill.

In these cases the tip is a representation of gratitude and not because you’re trying to help them make up for being underpaid. Here are a few scenarios: 

A Larger Order

If you’re planning to unload 10+ items with your tailor, and it’s more than your usual exchange, offering an additional tip or gift at pick up shows that appreciation. Especially consider gratuity if they completed in their usual timing with no delays. 

A Rush Order

If you requested one day or same day turnaround on an order and it is completed within that constraint, a tip is a good idea. For example, getting your pants hemmed or jacket taken in the day before the wedding because you didn’t do it ahead of time might be grounds for a little more on your end. You’re asking for more out of their service, so a tip shows an understanding of that burden and gratitude. 

Exceptional Service

Now, this is subjective and up to your judgement. But if they have gone above and beyond, like completing several orders on the first round without any additional alterations needed, you can use a tip to show your appreciation. 

when to tip a tailor
Tipping a tailor for exception service, work & craftsmanship

Building a Relationship

A good tailor is hard to find, so once you do find one, you want to maintain a good relationship with them. This doesn’t necessarily mean tipping on every order, but you can consider other types of gifts (liquor or gift cards) to build a personal friendship instead of just a business interaction. Tipping in the previous three cases will do this as well.

If you’re debating on tipping on your first project or you’re a fairly infrequent visitor to the shop, you’re probably ok to skip the tip and just pay the full amount. 

Reasons To Tip A Tailor: Other Considerations

As we previously mentioned, you may also encounter a tailor that works in a men’s shop (like we mentioned before) and does not set their own pay rate. In this case, you can tip them directly.

Louis from the @aspiring_gent, a tailor teaching others how to do it themselves on social media, offered this advice:

Definitely do it! It’s just like any other service industry your income is dependent on your workload. So when someone gives a tip it means a lot… In my 5 years of tailoring I’ve been tipped once and it meant a lot!

– Louis (IG: @aspiring_gent)

From his point of view, it was again a show of appreciation, but definitely not something that was required by any means.

Just note that you may need to clear this with the shop owner or manager first. Some stores do not allow their employees to be tipped for services. You don’t want to get your tailor in trouble even if your intentions were good. 

While good custom tailors usually do not expect or even accept a tip, showing appreciation in any form for the service they provide is never a misstep. If they do politely decline, remain respectful and move on.

How Much You Should Tip Your Tailor

Again, there is no standard percentage on the final bill to tip, like the standard 15% minimum in other industries. Your tip amount depends on your order and the other potential factors we described above (turnaround time, quality of work, etc.)

Use this table for some guidance:

Service/ScenarioTip Amount
Single Alteration or Item$10 – $15 if inclined on orders $40+
5-10 Items in Standard Time10% if inclined
Large or Rush Order Completed on Time10-15%
Gifting or Appreciation – After Several Orders$50 or equivalent gift

Larger and complicated orders get pricier, so it is understandable that 10-15% becomes a significant amount. Especially considering the cost of custom suiting, 10% is more than a generous gratuity to provide in addition to your bill.

Remember again that you are not required to tip, particularly with a tailor who runs their own business. These are some general recommendations based on what we have found in our research and forums. 

When in doubt, be generous if you are able to. You also have the option to tip after several orders to continue to build your relationship but not burden yourself with every order. The point of a tip is not to put you out.

Other Options to Show Gratitude

Monetary gifts are not the only way to show your gratitude to your tailor or seamstress. In fact, if you have been visiting them regularly and have built a relationship, you may want to consider more personal gifts.

Try gifting them with their favorite bottle of wine or liquor, gift cards to places they actually enjoy, or thoughtful gifts based on your relationship. Showing this kind of personal appreciation makes them more than a tailor. Couple this with spending time to get to know them as well. Become someone they enjoy having in their shop!

You may even consider adding them to your holiday mailing list. They can join your mailman (or mailwoman) or other service folks with whom you regularly interact. That way, you’re offering something special each season and continuing a great partnership!

Having a great relationship with your tailor is a good way to ensure great service and potential favors like quick turnarounds. Ideally, they should know how you like each item of clothing before they even pin it. That means, they become a friend. So you can treat them as such.

Send Your Tailor Business

Lastly, if you’re unable to tip or gift, you can always send them more business. There is no better way to show that you are satisfied with their work than sending more clients their way. Word of mouth referrals are everything, especially because a good tailor is tricky to find.

Final Thoughts

Tipping your tailor or seamstress, like tipping in most situations, is certainly not a requirement. It is not a standard in this industry. However, you build great rapport with your tailor and show appreciation by tipping when they do you a favor or after several successful projects, offering personal gifts to build your relationship and sending them additional clients.

Consider gratuity when you are asking more of your tailor than their standard service and the quality remains high. If you’re not a frequent visitor, tipping may not be something you really need to worry about on standard alterations.

Whatever you choose to do, treat your tailor with respect because they can make or break your look.

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