I’ll come right out and say it, I’m a little bit afraid of tailoring. For me it’s mostly fear that I’ll take something that’s good enough and make it not very good at all. I’ve mentioned my hacked chambray dress before, but there’s also been jeans made too short, and—years ago—a bridesmaid dress made so tight that I had to get it taken out mere hours before a wedding.
Since my own tailoring skills end at sewing on a button or lopping off the bottom of a pair of jeans and calling them shorts, I admit that the question of price plays a big role my tailoring phobia. If I buy an item and then need to factor in the cost of actually paying someone to make it fit, I’m looking at a more expensive final price point which might be a deal breaker, even if I’m trying to alter something I’ve found second-hand or on sale.
Still, there are moments when a simple fix can make a world of difference. Better yet, a little tweak is sometimes all you need to take something from staying hidden in the back of your closet to bringing it out front and center. And if the mission here is to own only clothes that you actually like and wear, than it makes sense that a little alteration might be the answer to minimalist wardrobe woes. Some of you might remember that I had my wedding dress made by Nayantara Banerjee—otherwise known as the Williamsburg Seamster. She’s up to her ears in wedding gowns these days, but she had a bit of advice for folks hoping to get their duds tailored for a more perfect fit.
Tailoring advice straight from the source:
1. Start big: The most obvious tip, maybe, but Tara emphasizes first and foremost that it’s always easier to tailor something down rather than make it larger.
2. Shoulder trick: Tara explained that “in blouses and dresses, pulling up the shoulder seam from a pinch to an inch can make a great deal of difference fit wise.” She explains that taking in a shoulder can “reduce or eliminate gaping along the neckline and sagging in the bodice, and generally align the bust and waist of the bodice better on the body.” I did a little trick in my own closet and pinched up the shoulders on a few dresses that have particularly wide arm holes…and presto. Problems solved.
3. Know your materials: Tara suggests understanding the materials and silhouettes that work best on your body and then learning how (or if!) they may be alterable. She mentioned that even if a clingy knit works best for your body they can by tricky and bulky to tailor. Similarly, tailoring a boxy cotton cut into something that’s super fitted would likely be a tailoring challenge.
What about you guys? What kind of tailoring tricks are your favorite? I have friends who tailor nearly everything they buy to make for perfect fits. Do you fall into that camp, too? Any tailoring disaster stories to make me feel better about my own?
If you’re just getting started on the road to a minimalist wardrobe, here are the first steps: One
PS. Nayantara’s up to some pretty fascinating graduate research studying social responsibility and human and labor rights in the global garment industry. You can read more about her, here.