I’ve had my own clothes tailored for years, and I always suggest alterations to my local clients to take them from looking just okay to looking like they were MADE for their body shape. It’s difficult to achieve a perfect fit “off the rack” and tailoring can help tuck, move seams, and shorten so your clothes fit like a glove.
I have, on occasion, tried to completely overhaul a garment or two, with less than successful results. One time, for example, I bought a gauzy vintage dress for next to nothing at a consignment shop, and the first time I wore it, I ripped the sleeve fabric while putting it on. So, I took it to my seamstress and asked her to remove the sleeves and make it into a sleeveless dress. Well, that opened a can of worms! She had to also change the arm hole dimensions, and it made the arm holes too tight, and now I don’t wear the dress. So, sometimes your high hopes of changing just one part of the garment you may be creating other problems elsewhere.
Here are some tips that will help you decide when a seamstress can help you achieve a better fit:
Tip #1 – Shorten or lengthen pants
This is a clothing alteration that most of us have done — some of you do this yourself! I’ve got a tip that may seem extravagant, but I’m telling you this is such a great thing to do. If you can afford it, buy 2 pair of the same pants and hem one pair to wear with flats, and the other to wear with heels. I can’t tell you how many times my clients tell me they love this idea because it helps them with wardrobe planning. Especially my petite clients who are always hemming their pants!
Now, when it comes to jeans, you can shorten the hems, or if the jeans are skinny or straight, just cuff them and call it a day! Here are some examples of cuffing jeans in a modern, chic way:
Tip #2 – Convert short dresses into tunic tops
You may also be able to shorten a simple dress hem yourself, but if the dress has a flare or flowy hemline, it may be worth the extra cost to seek professional help. We all know how frustrating it is to see all the super short dresses in stores these days, specifically designed to wear 3-4 inches above the knee. If you love the dress fabric, pattern, and design, just buy it and shorten it to become a tunic top worn with leggings or tights! A belt may even shorten the dress enough to be worn with leggings!
Tip #3 – Shortening tops
If you have a relatively short torso (as I do), many of the tops I buy are too long or need to be shortened in the bust area. This is a cost-effective alteration to make sure the top’s hemline hits you in the right place. When tops (that are not tunics) are too long they tend to create a frumpy look. If you have wider hips, a top that hits you mid-hip will actually give the illusion of slimming your hips — sort of cuts the area in half.
Tip #4 – Special occasion dresses
This is a time when it’s okay to spend a little more money to make sure that dress fits you in all the right places. You want to look and feel va-va-voom! Taking in the sides, hemming the length, shortening straps, and other slight adjustments will create the illusion that this expensive-looking dress was hand-tailored just for you!
Tip #5 – Shorten your shorts
That’s right, sometimes when you buy walking shorts they’re too long, especially if you’re petite in stature. The result is you look even shorter and dumpier! No one wants that. Listen, ladies, many of you still have gorgeous gams — I’ve seen them — but you’re afraid to show them off. If you don’t believe me, stand in front of a full length mirror and fold up the legs of your walking shorts once or twice. See the difference. The more leg you show the longer you look. Below is an example of what my Style Success Workshop participant, Sue Mason, did to shorten her walking shorts and elongate her look!
Tip #6 – Alter your jackets
Many of the jackets you buy may be either too loose, too long, or the sleeves are too baggy and long. I consider a blazer or jacket one of the best ways to pull your outfit together. But the jacket has to fit properly. Taking in the sides of a jacket makes a world of difference, especially if the result is a more fitted look. The bust area is often one of the most challenging areas of a blazer to fit. Buttoning should not cause your blazer to appear (or feel) tight and create a stretched look. Jacket sleeves can be easily shortened — the preferred length is just at your wrist bone, but it really is up to you. A new trend is the 3/4 sleeve length. The shoulders should fit properly, too. The goal is to have seams of the shoulder be as close to the end of your shoulders as possible on your shoulder. Shoulder modifications can run into some serious bucks and may not get you the results you’re looking for, so proceed with caution. Here’s an example below of what a jacket alteration can do for the fit.
Tip #7 – Alter the rise on your pants
Sometimes the rise on a pair of pants may be too tight or a bit droopy. While one might think it would be easy for a tailor to take it in or let it out, this is not an easy modification to make. I usually tell my clients to keep looking for a pant that fits better in this critical area. Knowing whether your rise is long or short can help steer you to brands that cater to your body shape in this area.