It can be a challenge to find off-the-rack clothes that fit well, especially if you’re a “special” size in the eyes of the retail industry (i.e. petite or plus). I’ve come to realize that it’s worth the money to invest in good clothing alterations.
Last year, I purchased a great olive green vest from Banana Republic, despite the fact that it was about 2 sizes too big for me (don’t ask me why). The vest only cost $19, but I’ve never worn it because it just looked so shapeless on me. Yesterday, I finally headed to the tailor with the vest and a too-big Lilly Pulitzer skirt. The vest needed about 3/4 inch taken in from both sides – $25. The skirt needed 3/4 inches taken in from the back – $20. My $19 vest just became a $44 vest, while the great $30 skirt is now $50.
My trip to the tailor made me understand how expensive clothing alterations can be. Now I am looking through my closet with a critical eye – if I really like something, but it’s ill-fitting, I’m taking it to the tailor for some fabric nip/tuck. It’s going to be expensive, yes, but this process has taught me some really valuable lessons:
- Fit is paramount. Without fit, there is no style (thanks, TLC’s What Not To Wear). Even when the skirt was held in place by pins, I can see that it looks so much better – the waist is fitted at the waist, and the hem hits at my knees instead of below.
- Invest in quality clothing and a talented tailor. It’s not flattering to wear cheap, ill-fitting clothing. There is no point in spending money on alterations to make cheap clothing better-fitting (i.e. I won’t be bringing a polyester shirt to the tailor). I need to make sure that that article of clothing will be with me for a long, long time – which means buying what I love (within budget, of course), instead of springing for what’s on sale.
- Don’t forget the costs of alterations when considering a purchase! Had I realized that the vest alteration would cost another $25, I might not have made the purchase. This will definitely make me think twice about those “oh this dress looks so great, it’s just a tiny bit off…” moments.
I’ve also found some wonderful fashion blogs for petite ladies: Alterations Needed, Really Petite, Extra Petite and Style Pint. I can’t stop reading their blogs – unfortunately they are giving me the shopping bug.