Do You Tip a Tailor or a Seamstress?

Whether you find yourself overjoyed with a tailor’s work, or they didn’t quite meet your expectations, their job in the service industry might have you wondering if it’s customary to give them a tip. While some people argue that a tailor deserves a tip for their expert work, others believe the gesture should be reserved for bartenders and waiters/waitresses. Regardless, the question still burns—do you tip a tailor or a seamstress?

In general, no, it’s not customary to tip a tailor or seamstress for their work. Experts in the industry typically make adequate money, and they usually don’t expect to receive tips like other service industries might. That said, if your tailor or seamstress does exceptional work, it’s best to lean on the side of generosity and offer a gratuity.

Fortunately, to give you some insight into how the service works, we’ll dive deep into the concept, discussing when it’s appropriate to tip and when it isn’t.

So, without further ado, let’s jump in!

Is It Customary to Tip a Tailor or a Seamstress?

In modern-day America, we’re accustomed to tipping our service people, especially waiters and waitresses.

It’s normal to believe that a tip is mandatory if we want quality service.

And, if you’ve ever worked in service, you can understand why tips are beneficial. Whether they merely help a service worker feel valued or they’re helping make rent that month, gratuity is always a great avenue for showing a bit of kindness.

That said, tailors and seamstresses certainly have their place in the customer service industry, leading most to believe that tips are necessary. Nonetheless, since tipping is not required by law for any service, the choice is yours. But, it’s not necessarily standard to tip a tailor or seamstress, although it’s relevant to do so in some cases.

But, what’s the difference between a tailor’s job and the rest of the service industry? If one person gets a tip, shouldn’t everyone? To give you a better idea of why it’s not custom to tip for clothing alterations, let’s go over several reasons:

They are Generally Paid Well

Unlike the food industry, which is often lower-paying, tailors and seamstresses are not underpaid. They typically make an average wage whether they work for themselves or a shop, so we don’t necessarily need to tip to make up any gaps in wages.

All Services are Included in the Final Bill

The final bill you pay for tailoring or alterations already includes the services. Tipping is not expected as they didn’t alter your clothes for free.

They Often Set Their Own Prices

A lot of seamstresses and tailors are self-employed or own a shop. In that case, they set their prices, charging what is needed to cover expenses. That, in turn, leaves customers with far less obligation to tip.

When to Tip a Tailor or Seamstress

Because it can be a kind gesture to leave a tip for someone who is doing you a service—especially if you appreciate their work—it’s not uncommon to want to tip your tailor or seamstress for a job well done. In some cases, a tip might be welcomed and appreciated. Still, it’s important to only tip in the right circumstances and understand that you shouldn’t force them or make them feel bad if they decline.

Here are a few scenarios when you might consider offering gratuity:

  • You submit an exceptionally large order that will likely swamp them with work and make them unavailable for additional customers
  • You need an alteration finished quickly, and they have to rush significantly, or if they need to make you their top priority
  • If you want to build a relationship with them, or you already have a steady relationship with them and know they would or appreciate a tip
  • If they do an outstanding job and you want to thank them for their efforts and show your gratitude for their talent

Each order is different when it comes to getting alterations done. But, if you’re asking for more than the average customer, it’s best to offer a tip and express your gratitude for their additional efforts. However, you don’t need to feel guilty if you don’t offer a tip. It isn’t expected, but your free to do so if it seems appropriate.

When Not to Tip for Alterations

In most cases, tipping a tailor or seamstress is your call. But, you’re certainly not in the wrong if you choose to avoid the idea altogether.

It’s not required, and some even take offense by the offer.

Additionally, tipping someone for a service they already make a living on doesn’t quite make sense—plenty of people relate tipping your tailor to tipping your dermatologist or your mechanic. They have the skills, and they do their jobs; a tip isn’t necessary.

Not to mention, while it can be a great way to build rapport and give your thanks, it’s also important to understand that tipping is not always appropriate. So, in general, keep these unwritten don’ts in mind when considering leaving a tip:

  • If your tailor or seamstress works at a boutique, department store, or wedding dress shop; their wages are typically covered in the flat fee or in the expense of the item itself
  • When all you need is for them to do a simple job, such as hemming some pants or adding a bustle to a dress
  • If you’re receiving service in a country that frowns upon tipping in general, like Japan or China
  • If they own their shop or they are self-employed
  • Regardless of whether you choose to tip or not, always remember that tipping tailors and seamstresses should never be done out of pity or in a way that insinuates that you think they need help because they’re underpaid. In this case, a gratuity can be insulting.

Alternative Options for Showing Gratitude to Your Tailor or Seamstress

If you’re not into the whole tipping idea, but you’d like to show your tailor or seamstress your appreciation or build a stronger bond with them, there are plenty of other alternatives to ensuring they feel valued and that their talents are acknowledged.

Give Them a Personal Gift

Giving your tailor or seamstress a personal gift might even be more thoughtful than a tip, anyway. If you have a friendship blossoming through the service they provide you, you may have a sense of the type of things they enjoy. In this case, pick them up a bottle of their favorite wine or snag them a gift card for something they can enjoy outside of work with a loved one.

Don’t know them very well yet? No worries! You can always grab them a neutral gift that most people would welcome and give it to them when you pick up your clothes.

Regardless, a gift is a foolproof way to show your gratitude without offending anyone in the process (unless, of course, you choose an oddly insulting gift, like a month free of some weight loss program).

Be a Returning Client

Is there a better way to let someone know they’re doing a good job than to keep coming back? For most tailors and seamstresses, returning customers are very beneficial for business, and it can be an ideal way to offer them additional cash without a tip.

It also helps form connections, and ultimately, you’ll provide them with a customer they enjoy working with.

Refer Them New Business

Maybe you don’t have a lot of clothing that needs altering, which is also not a problem. If this is the case, promoting your tailor can be the perfect way to bring them more business.

Recommend them to everyone you know, and the extra customers will help them know they’re doing a great job. Not only that but referring business is always a clever and easy way to warm a heart.

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Bottom Line

So, there you have it. While it’s always a nice gesture to offer a gratuity to those in the service industry, you do not have to tip your tailor or seamstress.

They usually don’t expect it, and they often make a solid living to begin with.

Nonetheless, if you feel like a tip might be in order, go with your gut. Tipping can be a great way to show your appreciation and let them know that they have quality skills. But, don’t stress it—your gratitude can shine through different avenues as well.

Regardless, do what you can to build a solid relationship with your tailor. Whether it’s mere kindness when you walk into their shop or the gift of a lifetime, they have the power to keep you looking stylish; you don’t want to sabotage that.

Tell us what you think down below. Do you typically tip a tailor or seamstress?

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