Q&A: Can You Resell Clothing With Alterations?

A customer writes:

“Hello, I have 2 nice Valstar brand coats from last year, which I had altered at the sleeves and waist area. Do you think you can sell these despite the tailoring? The fit is quite slim and the sleeves are slightly shorter now.”

The short answer is yes, as long as the dimensions remain consistent with the tagged size.

Customer expectations are the main challenge when it comes to reselling altered clothing. People confidently buy [Brand X] because they know the size [X] fits them just right. If you go and change that fit and then try to sell the garment to them, it’s going to cause a problem (for online transactions in particular).

When alterations are OK:

As a consignment shop, we could choose to avoid and reject any altered garments, but that would be mistake. Why?  Because alterations can universally improve the fit of a garment, thereby making it more “true to size.”

For example, I sold a Massimo Piombo coat last season. The coat’s off-the-rack fit was enormous, like 2 sizes bigger than expected. I took it to a nearby tailor and she brought in the waist considerably. The fit was corrected, but ultimately this coat didn’t work for me. When it came time to resell it, I could describe the coat as a true 46 for the average guy.  This worked out only because I started with a generous, larger than average fit.

When alterations cause a problem:

When you reduce the size of a garment that’s generally true-to-size, you dramatically reduce the potential for resale success.

With tailored suits, I’ve seen some unfortunate alterations that destroy resale value entirely. For example, if you wear a 48 Long, but need to cut the sleeves down extremely short. Or if your broad shoulders require that you buy XXL, but the waist gets taken in very close.  These fall into my category of alterations which are inconsistent with tagged size. To sum up, tailoring a garment to fit you perfectly means it may only fit you. This is especially true if you have unusual proportions.

Photo credit: Bespoke tailor by Ray Larabie licensed under Creative Commons attribution 2.0