Last week, I kicked off a new blog series that will include a number of posts on the topic of alterations. The first installment included thoughts from the “End Closet Chaos” closed Facebook group on the pros and cons of having our clothes tailored. The group also shared their experiences with altering their own clothes, as well as some tailoring success and failure stories.
In the upcoming posts in this series, I will highlight some of my own alteration successes and failures. Since I like to start things out on a high note, today’s installment will feature some of my successful tailoring efforts. Please note that I don’t do any of my tailoring myself. About seven or eight years ago, I found a lovely alterations lady not far from when I live who does a great job and charges reasonable prices. I’ve been taking all of my tailoring projects to her ever since. She’s very good at what she does, but occasionally I proceed with alterations against her best advice. But that is a topic for the next post in this series… We’re sticking with the positive today!
Today I’m going to show you some of the skirts and dresses that I’ve had tailored successfully. Let’s start off with the two black skirts that I recently had shortened. While I had loved both skirts for years, my style preference has shifted such that I now like my skirts to be somewhat shorter. Rather than let go of these two skirts that I like, I asked my tailor if they could be shortened. Both skirts had special features that made the alterations a bit trickier, but my tailor was able to get around those elements fairly easily.
A big part of why I elected to shorten these two skirts is that I’ve had difficulty finding a new black skirt that I loved and which would meet my needs. I was looking for a knee-length black skirt that wasn’t too corporate, but all I seemed to be able to find were maxis, minis, and pencil skirts. I did buy one pencil skirt at a consignment store, but I didn’t realize that the baggy waistband could not be taken in due to the way it was constructed. That one goes in my purchase failure category and was passed on last month. It was just easier for me to tailor the two black skirts I had, as I liked both of them other than their length.
This first skirt is one that has been in my closet for over six years and has been worn countless times. It has contrast stitching along the hem and on the sides to create interesting and flattering details. My tailor didn’t have the exact color thread, but what she used was so close, you’d have to get up very close to the skirt to notice the difference. The skirt was shortened about three inches and I am much happier with it now. I thought the skirt looked somewhat matronly (I hate that word…) or “churchy” before, whereas it now looks more modern and youthful and shows more of the curve of my legs. I’m glad I was able to rescue a longtime closet favorite through tailoring.
This next skirt was a 2013 purchase and was fairly pricey because it was a designer piece. I loved it at first, but once my preference shifted to shorter skirts, it hung in my closet unworn. It was also too big for me, especially after my recent weight loss. Shortening this skirt was tricky because of the asymmetrical hem, but my tailor assured me that it could be done without a problem. She was also able to take the skirt in enough so that it no longer overwhelmed my frame. Had the skirt not been as expensive as it was, I probably wouldn’t have elected to do such extensive tailoring, but it worked out for me. If it hadn’t, I likely would have listed the skirt for sale on eBay and had been able to recoup some of my losses. I took a risk, but it paid off. I trust my tailor’s judgment and she assured me that the alterations weren’t as tricky as I thought.
The image on the left was from July and the photo on the right was taken two weeks ago. As with the skirt above, I feel this skirt looks more stylish and current in the “after” view. When I wore it, I felt a lot more attractive, slim, and comfortable in it than I had previously.
Shortening Straps on Maxi-Dresses
Beginning with last summer, I started to really enjoy wearing maxi-dresses, as they are comfortable, casual, and can be worn stylishly with flat sandals. While it can be challenging for me to find maxis that are long enough for my tall frame, I often encounter another fit problem. The straps on tank style maxi-dresses are almost always too long! This leads to the dresses being too low-cut and exposing my bra straps. Fortunately, this is something that my tailor can easily fix (as can anyone who is reasonably handy with a sewing machine – sadly, that’s not me!).
I don’t have “before” images for these dresses, but I can show you how they look after the alterations were done. All four of these maxi-dresses were favorites of mine this past summer. The two colorful dresses were just acquired this year, but the others were worn during the summer of 2014 as well.
Taking In Skirts and Dresses
This last examples I’m going to show tonight are two skirts and a dress that I have had taken in. In all honesty, I should have been more careful about buying the two skirts in the first place. Although I was somewhat heavier when I purchased them during the summer of 2014, they were both too voluminous from the get go. Too much volume can make us appear larger than we are, plus it can be uncomfortable to have a lot of excess fabric especially in hot weather.
I should have sized down on both skirts, but if I recall correctly, they were sale purchases and perhaps other sizes weren’t available (I don’t remember). While some women would have opted to just pass the skirts on because they were too large, I decided to narrow both of them and was happy with the result. These were easy alterations, as the skirts were basically straight with very little flare.
The dress is a different story, as it has been in my closet for quite a few years. It’s very comfortable and can be easily dressed up or down for various occasions. I used to like the fuller bottom on this dress, but have moved more toward narrower silhouettes as part of my style evolution of the past year. I like the dress more after the alteration, but I may decide to shorten it a few inches as well. Yes, that’s kind of a lot of re-making of one item, but I feel that it can be worth it for a garment that we basically love. And since the dress is a very classic style, I can have it in my closet for many years to come. I don’t wear it all that often, but it’s good to have a basic black dress for certain occasions. You really can’t go wrong with this type of item, if you like black and it’s flattering on you, of course (others can opt for alterate softer neutrals – it doesn’t have to be the typical “LBD”).
Some Final Words
That’s it for this first installment on my successful alterations. I know that many of you aren’t proponents of tailoring and may decide either not to purchase a garment or to pass it on if you’re not happy with how it looks “as is” off the rack or hanging in your closet. While this is an individual decision and there is really no right or wrong answer, I just wanted to highlight some instances in which tailoring has made a big difference in my wardrobe.
Yes, I still need to be careful to avoid the dark side of alterations and I continue to make some tailoring mistakes on occasion. But I also have many examples of when alterations have served me well. It’s definitely a balancing act and this series is going to help keep me honest. Stay tuned for the next installment in which I will feature some of my tailoring faux pas. There have been quite a few over the years, but not so many in 2015, thankfully. I hope to shift the balance to almost all successes during 2016.
Now it’s time for you to chime in.
- What types of alterations have you made to your skirts and dresses?
- Have you done your own nips and tucks or did you use a tailor?
- What advice do you have for tailoring newbies?
I invite you to share your feedback on these topics and more in the comments section. If you have specific questions or comments for me, you’re welcome to give your input there as well. And as always, I am open to topic suggestions for future posts.
You may have noticed that there have been fewer comments here as of late. A big reason for this is that many discussions are going on in the “End Closet Chaos” closed Facebook group. We’re 387 members strong at this point and new additions are always welcome. The topics are diverse and range from style-specific questions to wardrobe management conundrums and efforts to cultivate a fuller life. You can dive in or just “lurk” for a while. I participate in the group as I am able, but there are lots of fun “regulars” who will be more than willing to give you useful information and support. Hope to see more of you over there soon!
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