28 Jun

Per special request, a word (or few) about tailoring.

The truth?  Most clothes aren’t made ready to fit perfectly to everyone woman’s body. The apparel industry has to rely on norms, estimates, and best guesses when creating clothing and their relative sizes. Dependant upon the designer or store, sizes can vary as much as….well, a lot.  A size 6 in some stores can be a size 10 in others or a size 2 in yet more. That said, it’s important to know that tailoring is crucial. So rarely does something fit perfectly right off the rack.



Petite women such as myself have to contend with a lifetime of shortening pants. The pants will fit wonderfully from the ankle up, but then I’m left with a pool of fabric flooding my feet.  If they’re good pants or jeans, never mind the length…just get them hemmed.  I sometimes hem my pants for heels and now, I’m shortening them for flats.  Since I don’t care for cuffs ( they interrupt the long line of a pant leg and create a cut-off at my ankles), I will have cuffs removed when I get them tailored.

Length isn’t the only thing that may need to be altered.  For women who are pear-shaped, they must buy the size that will accommodate their curvy hips. The downside is that this often leaves a gap in the waistband. Since they can’t go a size down (lest the pants be too tight), the waist is a simple fix with a nifty nip from your expert tailor.


I also often have a problem with sleeves – they’re too long for my arms!  Over the course of the last year, I’ve taken in many of my blazers to get sleeves shortened. You can have a fabulously fitted jacket but if the sleeves are too long, the look is ruined.  The cuffs should hit just above your first knuckles when your arms are at your sides (and to your wrists when your arms are held out in front of you). If they go past this point, they’re too long!

If it’s tops you have troubles with (i.e. you can’t get them to button around your chest…which is a good problem to have), buy a size up and have a nip/tuck in the back to get the shaping corrected. No one wants gaping button holes.  While I’m sure your lingerie is lovely, no one should be seeing it due to malfunctioning buttons.


Here are some other potential situations where some tailoring is needed.

–When getting your new jeans shortened, ask for the original hem (you paid good money for that fraying)

–Skirts should hit you at the knee or just above (that’s a good rule of thumb for 99% of women). If they hit below, you’ll look like a librarian (not the sexy kind). If they go above, depending on your age and your legs, they could run in the dangerous-non-flattering-miniskirt territory.

–If your new pencil skirt is riding up, that means it’s too tight around your hipsBuy a size up and tailor the waist to fit.  It should be fitted but you shouldn’t look like a real-life Jessica Rabbit.

–If the arm holes in a sleeveless day dress are too big (as in, I can see the side band of your bra), but the rest of the dress fits like a glove, have the shoulder seams taken up to close up the hole.

–If you love the design/pattern/color of a pair of your cropped pants but they look more like high-waters (side note: cropped pants are dangerously unflattering because they make too many of us look cut off and stumpy), have them shortened to the knee for chic walking shorts.

–Likewise, some things need to be let out.  I have a dress that is perfectly fitted everywhere except for a slightly snug waist. If I bought the larger size, the entire dress looked like a potato sack.  So I bought my true size and had a fabulous tailor let out the back seams a couple inches, et voila! I was wearing it the next day.

Bottom line/Golden Rules:

Buy clothing to fit the largest part of your body…your hips or rear, your bust or waist and shape everything else around it.  If it’s a quality piece that’s part of your working wardrobe, it’s worth it. There’s nothing worse than a fabulous suit that looks sloppy.


If every part of the garment fits you well except one (like my dress), consider having that one piece altered to your body

This post was specially requested by my friend, Janai who feels that tailoring should be acknowledged and recognized as a consistent and necessary part of our wardrobes.


2 Responses to “Nip/Tuck/Tailor”

  1. nuvonova June 29, 2008 at 2:40 am #

    What a wonderful entry. I completely agree with your friend about tailoring being necessary for a women’s wardrobe. Luckily, as I did a Fashion Design degree, I understand pattern cutting, so I can do this for myself, but many women haven’t a clue.

    I think it’s a real handy skill to have, and even people in Fashion Design still don’t really understand it because they don’t teach it in enough depth at University.

    To be honest, I’m learning more doing it myself with trial and error than I did at University! .. but I needed to learn the basics, which I did at University.

  2. Denise March 12, 2010 at 3:55 pm #

    Back home, even small towns had at least two tailors and seamstresses who were really good ath their job. But out here in smalltown USA, it’s pretty hard to find tailors and seamstresses. Those are skills I would kill to have right now! I hate having to buy size 12 pants when I have a size 6 waist. I’m always paranoid about the gap at my waist.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: