Thursday, August 1, 2013

Staying Chic When You're between Sizes: Part 2

Becoming acquainted with a good tailor or seamstress can ensure that you always look fabulous with the perfect fit.

This may be one of the most important, yet under-appreciated, pieces of style advice ever. Once I started writing about this concept for my mini-series on staying chic when you're between sizes, I couldn't stop! The idea of having custom-fitted clothing is so important that it deserves its own post.

The idea of a seamstress or tailor may seem a little old-fashioned, especially now that clothing is so quickly and cheaply made. Many people may think it's easier to just buy a whole new wardrobe once your size changes! While that may sound fun, it's terribly impractical and rather wasteful spending. Even if you can buy a lot of clothes on the cheap, I'm certain the quality of those clothing items are questionable, at best. Also, everyone's body is unique-- while some  people may be fortunate enough to wear clothing immediately off the rack, for the majority of the population, the only way to ensure a truly perfect fit is with custom tailoring.

Another reason why I love the idea of a tailor or seamstress is that it seems so European to me! I imagine an older, bespectacled gentleman with a measuring tape around his neck in some rickety little shop... Although, today, clothing alterations can often be done at formal wear retailers or bridal shops. Also, many dry cleaners work with professional seamstresses or tailors that could perform alterations on your clothes, so be sure to ask one for a recommendation. Another option is to ask around-- friends or family members often know of someone who might make a little money on the side by doing clothing alterations. Previous generations come from a time when every one knew how to sew, so many older women or men have the skills needed to make good clothing alterations. I found my seamstress this way-- a sweet older woman who was recommended to me by a friend with whom I used to work.

I also believe that having a personal tailor or seamstress is an especially European concept because it is my experience that Europeans often tend to be more frugal and less wasteful than Americans.  Going to a tailor or seamstress is something that it can actually save you money. Remember, quality is more important than quantity! Buying a few well-made pieces is key-- and a seamstress can help you to ensure that you get the most wear out of those items as possible. The cost of most alterations tends to relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider the money that you can save by not buying a lot of cheap, ill-fitting clothes that end up in the Goodwill bag a year later. Investing in a few well-made pieces, along with the added insurance of knowing that they fit perfectly, is well worth it. An added bonus of going to local tailors (rather than buying cheap clothes made in who-knows-where) is that it supports the local economy by patronizing local small businesses and service providers.

To summarize my main points in this series thus far, the most important style advice is to make sure clothing fits well. This is sage advice at any time, but it is especially important when one's size or shape is in flux. Being in a stage of transition is certainly neither a reason nor excuse for looking frumpy! Once the basic tenet of well-fitting clothing is achieved, then comes the fun part... Adding your own unique style to your look! This can be tricky, especially if one is at a physical stage when it may be preferable to hide one's shape, rather than accentuate it, but there are several style tips and strategies that can help you to look your best, regardless of your size, shape, or weight.

Be sure to check back for the final installment of this three-part series on staying chic when you're between sizes, where I will discuss some fashion tips shared with me by readers, as well as specific style trends that look good on every shape and size! (Coming soon!)

For readers living in Central Pennsylvania, I highly recommend Linda Poff's Bridal Services for clothing alternations (not just bridal services)! What tailors, seamstresses, or alteration services do you recommend in your area?

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