Even in the age of machine-made clothing, hemming suit pants is still a fine art. Although most dry cleaners offer tailoring services, if you want your good suit to look perfect, you should take the time to find someone reputable and make the investment in a proper hemming job.
Notes on Hemming Suit Pants
Americans have a peculiar tendency to wear their suits too short. This wasn't always the case. If you look at movies from the 1940s, you'll see that men's suits fall to about mid-heel on their shoes. But the hem crept up around the 1960s and has unfortunately managed to stay there, despite its less than flattering look. If you've ever seen a man cross his legs and show a length of sock, or worse, a flash of leg above the sock, you know his trousers (and socks) are too short.
Many tailors will ask how long you want your trousers and this is often considered a sign of good service. However, a really good tailor should know how long a pair of trousers should be and should hem accordingly. You may feel like the trousers are going to be too long and you'll trip, but once you have shoes on, you'll realized they are, in fact, just right.
Step by Step
For a good business suit, you really want to go to a good tailor, even if you know the basics of hemming suit pants and have done it before. A tailor who knows what he's doing will be able to adjust the legs exactly so as to best flatter you. In fact, someone who really knows what they're about can adjust the hems to make legs look slimmer or longer.
If you've never had a suit hemmed to fit before, here is what to expect. You will probably stand on a box at a three-way mirror, wearing the pants as you would, but without shoes. The tailor will measure the hang and fold the legs underneath, marking with chalk. Hems are done at an angle and will be pinned into place for stitching.
The tailor will ask you to look and be sure you like the hang before he has you take the pants off. Again, if you don't know how a good suit is meant to hang, it may look strange to you. But if the tailor is worth his fee, the back of your pant leg will be touching the ground and the front will sit on the top of your foot.
If by chance you are being risky and hemming suit pants yourself, you must be sure to use thread that is the exact color of the pants. Some people swear by "invisible" thread for this task. Invisible thread is essentially plastic and while it's great for a number of purposes, it is a disaster in this instance - it will give off a small but noticeable sheen that is the last thing you want in good dark trousers.
Finding a Tailor
It used to be that every man had a tailor; even a poor man went to someone to have his clothes made. These days, most men probably go to the dry cleaners, but there are better alternatives.
If you are buying a suit in a high-end shop, most offer free on-site tailoring. You are essentially a walking advertisement for their store, so they want you to look your best. Sometimes they'll even offer you free drinks while they do the tailoring.
If you like vintage clothes, a salesperson at a vintage shop will usually know someone who does good alteration work. Many vintage suits need adjustments. Likewise, you can ask a costumer for a recommendation. People who work with clothes professionally will always know other top-quality professionals.