How to alter a man's suit to fit a woman

Written by meagan coelho
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How to alter a man's suit to fit a woman
A woman in a suit. (business woman in suit image by MAXFX from

A suit is an important staple in any woman's wardrobe. There are many differences between a man's suit and a woman's suit. A woman's suit is usually more form fitting and the structure differs from a suit belonging to a man. It is possible to alter a man's suit into a woman's suit but you need to pay attention to sizing and overall fit of the garment.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Tailor's chalk and pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Paper and writing utensil
  • Over-lock machine (optional)
  • Sewing needle

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  1. 1

    Measure a pair of trousers that currently fits you. Measure from the crotch to the hemline, marking the measurement on a piece of paper as your inseam. Measure your waist.

  2. 2

    Try on the suit trousers and pin the waist in the back to fit you. After it is pinned, mark the sides of the pinned fabric with chalk. Fold the bottom of the trousers over until you reach the desired length. Pin the trousers around the entire hem and mark with chalk. Remove the pins from the waistline, leaving just the chalk line. This will show you the approximate amount of fabric that will need to be removed from the waist.

    How to alter a man's suit to fit a woman
    Pins (pins image by dinostock from
  3. 3

    Measure how much fabric will need to be removed from the waist. Remove the waist band in the back centre of the trousers to take in the waist. Bring the inside fabric in to the desired waist size. Cut the waist band and, using your sewing machine, sew the waist back into place.

  4. 4

    Remove the pins from the hemline and, using a tape measure, mark with chalk the desired length of the trousers. Then make another mark 1 inch down from the desired length. Cut the material at the lowest line. Fold the material up into the trousers, making the top mark the edge. If you have an over-lock sewing machine, you can use it to hem the suit trousers without showing the thread on the outside of the trousers. You can also tack up the hem by sewing the hemline by hand.

  5. 5

    Try on the trousers to ensure the correct fit. Make sure the hem falls correctly and that both legs are even.


  1. 1

    Try on the suit jacket and start by pinning up the arm length. Mark the length with chalk as well. If the shoulders are a little bulky, you can bring in the shoulder instead, which will shorten the arm length. Mark the shoulders with chalk if they need to be taken in. Pin in the sides of the jacket to the desired fit and mark with chalk. Decide if any buttons need to be moved or readjusted and mark those spots as well.

  2. 2

    Open the inside lining to get to the outer fabric. Start by taking in the jacket and using your machine to sew everything closed. Try on the jacket to ensure a good fit before sewing the lining back together. Cut any excess material to avoid bulkiness.

  3. 3

    Turn the jacket inside out to shorten the sleeves. If the shoulders need to be taken in, take the length of the sleeves up into the shoulder as well. If the shoulder is fine, open up the lining on the bottom of the sleeves and take in the fabric that way. After finishing one sleeve, try it on to ensure a perfect fit.

  4. 4

    Hem up the bottom of the jacket by opening up the lining and removing fabric. Make sure to keep the shape of the jacket and sew the shortened jacket back together. Reconnect the lining to the hem of the jacket.

  5. 5

    Make any final adjustments to the suit. This includes moving buttons around, adding buttons and opening up pockets. Try on the suit as a whole and make sure the fit is exactly what you are looking for.

Tips and warnings

  • You may want to ask for help with pinning for alterations. This allows you to pay attention to the fit while someone else pins the garment for you.
  • Accurately measure your waist and chest and double check the measurements with the pinned suit.
  • Avoid taking in too much fabric, as it is always easier to take something in further.
  • Pay attention to the original shape of the jacket and try to follow that to avoid unevenness.

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