Altering a trench coat from regular to petite sizing

short trench alterations

I often get questions on whether coats can be altered from regular to petite sizing. Fact of the matter is almost anything can be altered if you have a skilled tailor and unlimited budget! And after a costly and irreversible mis-alteration by a Burberry tailor, I’ve learned that pretty much all alterations also come with risk, regardless of tailor reputation.

short trench alterations front

For those who’ve requested alteration examples, this is the Banana Republic trench I really liked but only came in regular sizing. My tailor has successfully done a few jackets for me before so I decided it was worth a shot. Aside from length, other typical differences between regular and petite garments usually include higher armholes, narrower shoulders, higher waistlines, and sometimes even shrunken details like prints or buckles.

short trench alterations back

Ideally, a very skilled tailor would probably detach the collar and sleeves of this jacket, then raise the entire torso by the shoulder line. That way the armholes are shifted upwards and the length becomes cropped as intended, without having to chop off fabric on the bottom and make the spacing below buttons and pockets look odd. Unfortunately my tailor is not familiar with that complex method, so we left length unchanged and did the following:

– Make shoulders narrower
– Shorten shoulder epaulettes (as they would then run past the new shoulder seam)
– Raise armholes and slim throughout the length of sleeve
– Shorten sleeves, detaching and reattaching the buckle strap

In the end I was happy with how these alterations came out, but part of me does wish the cropped design could’ve been preserved (works as a regular length coat on me). Lesson learned is to not settle on an item if tailoring can’t make the fit exactly how you envisioned. I also wanted to point out below common alteration side effects for garments with strap detailing – residual stitching holes left behind, typical after belt loops get moved up or sleeves get shortened. Most of my tailors warn me about this before proceeding, and it’s usually minor enough that I don’t mind.

short trench alterations issues

Side note: the color of this jacket is a medium caramel brown, which I happened to really like so I’m surprised to see the 1-star reviews online because of it! The material IS crinkle-prone, however, and I wish the lining were a little nicer looking than shiny white leopard print. Here is a quick look at that similar Ann Taylor short trench which I thought was pretty good fit and quality for the price:

AT short trench 2

The material of the Ann Taylor is that 99% cotton, 1% spandex like my trench dress which is impressive for the price point these days, and the fit of the petite sizing (this is 00P) would need minimal alterations if any on shorter ladies. Below right – this was a delicate paisley print shirt which I thought would spruce up solid bottoms, like a mustard skirt or navy slacks, but didn’t have time to try on.

AT short trench

I also get a lot of questions on alteration costs and have to say it can range wildly from tailor to tailor. I paid ~ $50 to tailor this trench, but at my past tailors I would expect double that or more for a lined jacket.

Readers – please share any complex alterations you’ve had done, the costs, and whether you were happy with the outcome!

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