The fully equipped tailor’s establishment of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries could be sparsely or luxuriously fitted. The basic requirements of the trade included shelving for the display of cloth bales, a counter where swatches could be consulted, a space where the client could be measured, a fitting room with mirrors, a sturdy table for cutting out, and possibly blocks for saddles to fit riding clothes properly.
Fashion prints were also hung as decoration or shown to clients as models. The shop might or might not include a space for workshops. More prestigious firms made garments on the premises while “jobbing” tailors sent bundles of pieces to outworkers, often women, who would assemble the garments at home.
This photo shows the interior of Sinclair Brothers Tailor Shop. That’s Herb Sinclair Junior to the left, ready to serve you. This store was located on the west side of Bridge Street, the second frame building north of the bridge. It has since been demolished.-Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum
The majority of shops were owned by men although some were owned by women or the widow of a shop owner. Women were not permitted to own property or sign contracts earlier in the period. It was also believed at the time that women should not be merchants as they lacked the brains, stamina and competitive drive that was required to run a business.
Shops themselves were small and could be dark and badly ventilated or bright and elaborately decorated and arranged and shops existed for every “social class”. The layouts were similar, however, and typically featured a “glass door or window”, a lighted counter area and racks behind the counter filled with merchandise.