It's a fairly recent thing that we buy clothes in standardised sizes off the rack. Not that long ago you would make all your own clothes, or have them made for you.  I remember watching the Television show Mr Selfridge (about the creation of the Selfridge's department store in London) and the radical concept of off- the- rack dress shopping was discussed (it is set circa 1910)- women would buy sized garments off the rack and then have to alter them themselves. It was though that women would never take to it. Of course we all now buy this way, and the reverse is true that it is rare to have a garment made to measure.

We are all squashed and squeezed into 'standard' sizes (which frustratingly vary from brand to brand and country to country. And don't even get me started on vanity sizing that has seen me drop several dress sizes despite having had 3 children and carrying a bit more weight than I used to in my teenage years). It's rare to find a woman who is the ideal fit for those standardised sizes, but it seems that in this day of cheap fast fashion few are willing to put the expense and effort into having clothes altered to suit.

this one was altered to fit

I have often mentioned in previous blog posts on clothes that I take things in to be altered by my alterations lady in the city. Most often this is for a dress that is designed for women with small waists and pneumatic breasts. I fit only one of those descriptions (sadly), so generally my dresses require that they be taken in on the top. Sometimes I might have a hem taken up (as I am not model tall, quite the opposite) to make a dress sit in a less awkward position than at the fattest point on my calves. All of these things mean that the clothes fit better, suit me, and are things that I'll reach for as they are comfortable to wear and flatter me. The dress above had the top altered to take it in around the bust region, and then hemmed to sit just on my knee (covering my knee, but not awkwardly placed as it had previously been).


Recently I posted a picture of my Max Mara coat (highly flattering night shot above) asking for opinions on what to do with it. To recap, I bought it in 2001 in Melbourne, it was too long for me and was swamping my frame- I used to wear heels to work so it was ok, but in flats I looked like I was playing dress ups with someone else's coat. The shape was still current, so I took it to my alterations woman to have it shortened, and look!  I've got a new coat! Just in the nick of time for Spring….

 Yes, I have legs.

The buttons were also replaced - the old ones had shattered after being exposed to dry-cleaning fluid over the years. I chose these charcoal coloured buttons with some subtle silver edging to them.





While I was having that done, I also had a navy blue silk Carolina Herrera evening coat taken up on the sleeves. I bought it recently on eBay for $210 - it looks almost unworn and would have cost around $2000 new. It's a pet hate of mine to have sleeves that end in the middle of your hand  (on men as well as women). It just looks ill fitted, and as you can see in the very poor quality photo above, the sleeves came down to my fingers). I remember reading many years ago that an old couture trick was to cut a sleeve just above the wrist bone as it makes your arms look thinner and more elegant. At any rate the sleeves had to come up, so ta-da, here is my new evening coat

all photos taken from the view point of a 6 year old

I also went to the Button Bar in Adelaide Arcade and bought some new buttons for my JCrew schoolboy blazer. It came with shiny brass buttons that gave a faux Military Club type feel to it. The ones I chose as replacements are a little more subtle (for some reason the colour came out as black here, but the blazer is navy and so are the buttons). I have to admit that it was tedious to sew 8 buttons on the jacket, but well worth it.


the old, very shiny, brass buttons

So all this, coupled with a trip to the cobbler to fix 5 pairs of shoes up with new heels and soles ready for Summer (won't have to buy new ones, so that's a win), and I've ticked off a bit of satisfying wardrobe maintenance.

I've always felt that if you buy good quality things they're worth investing effort in maintaining them (such as my shoes), and occasionally something that is not such good quality can be improved by a few small alterations that make the proportions sit better on your body. Certainly I think the rise in popularity of dressing in separates has come about from the difficulties in fitting into a standard size in a dress for most women. I love a dress, and am certainly not a standard size, but alterations are well worth investing in if you find something you love.

45 comments:

  1. Heidi you are so right about ebay/alterations and as I'm on short rations, I have to go the ebay route to acquire nice clothes and did pick up a cashmere top coat for a song that is a bit long. I'm presently looking for another tailor as my last one hung me out to dry prior to a black tie event a few months back....liking your shapely gams btw....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How annoying that your last Tailor let you down before an event GSL! A good alterations person is pure Gold. Mine has worked all sorts of miracles. It's interesting how many people actually do buy from alternative sources - definitely the best way to stretch a budget and acquire better quality things (and often, more interesting things or better quality than you see in the shops these days too).

      Delete
  2. Your coats look amazing what a difference! That evening coat is completely gorgeous I love it. Well done on the wardrobe maintenance. These days I'm having trouble wearing anything but pyjamas so you've inspired me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's made the biggest difference indeed Dani! I'm really looking forward to wearing it out and about now. The evening coat was the best find - it was over the July 4th weekend, so I think any local buyers were not thinking about coats, and were preoccupied with celebrations, it was a steal. PJ's? Hope you're not unwell Dani?

      Delete
  3. Hi, Thoughtful, well written and informative post. Thank you for the wonderful/useful info. All the items are lovely but especially like the coats!
    Greetings from Boston.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Carol, thanks for dropping in, I love Boston - can't wait to go back one day (have been twice only, but love the Architecture, the accent...)!

      Delete
  4. Hello Heidi,

    Well, your nips and tucks have obviously been put into exactly the right places because they have given your garments a new lease of life. Without the money for haute couture, we absolutely are with you that this isthe best way to feel that one's clothes were made specially for one alone!

    The same is also true for hats. They really do feel so much better when they are either made specially or adjusted to fit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jane and Lance, What I would do to have just one thing Haute Couture! But I fear that is definitely not on the cards for me, so I do the next best thing. Completely agree with you about hats too, I have a couple that are very comfortable, but a too big or too small hat is very annoying (and headache inducing).

      Delete
  5. Don't me started on sizing a! Each continent also has it's own sizing variations ( considering shoulders and hips) and that's part of the reason why I can't buy online bc I am a 10 in one brand and 14 in another and yes vanity sizing just deludes people. I also have to tailor sooo much that there's a pile of clothes that needs tailoring and sometimes the work isn't worth the purchase which is why I tend not to shop for clothes. But your coat is fabulous and the tweak has made all the difference!!! A new life and I think you have saved many coats out there:) x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've found it's interesting that different cultures have different sizing to suit the local shape. Anything Asian is difficult for me as I have very broad shoulders and hips compared to the standard Asian shape. My sisters can't buy a thing in most Asian countries as their feet are too big (not alarmingly so, but far bigger than the local populations), and they're too tall generally.
      Hopefully I'll get a chance to wear the coat before next Winter! It's really warmed up since I took it in to be altered (only a couple of weeks ago!)

      Delete
  6. love the coat! I love an alteration but By God it is expensive! Apparently Anna Wintour gets everything altered !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Anna would! I factor the alterations into the cost of the clothes. My alterations lady is fairly reasonable in price thankfully.

      Delete
  7. My pet hate is seeing people wearing jeans (often expensive ones) that are too long and have been either rolled up at the hem or dragging in the dirt, esp at the back... Take them up people - DIY for this is not hard, just a bit of time and patience. Looks so much better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate it when the dragging bit at the back has worn away and there's an arc that's missing of the jeans and frayed edges instead. I've always had to hem my jeans myself, as you say, it's not hard!

      Delete
    2. Ditto caitlinsgrandma !

      Love the new look of the coat Heidi it looks so much better. The six year old takes a decent photo too.

      Delete
  8. The Fit IS the secret to looking good in your clothes.
    Linda C.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agree! If you wear something expensive that is ill fitted, it most certainly looks cheap, and the reverse is also true.

      Delete
  9. Hi Heidi, would you mind sharing the name if your seamstress in the Adelaide ? I can never find a good one.
    Irene

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Irene, it's Alison, from Alterations by Alison. She's at level 5, 38 Rundle Place (opposite the old David Jones building). Just check her opening times though, she has one day when she's closed and I can never remember when it is! 8232 9928

      Delete
  10. Hi Heidi,

    I've recently found your blog and am enjoying catching up with it. I love your MM coat; what a timeless piece and it looks fantastic with the new hem.

    Cheers, Heather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Heather, always nice to hear from a new reader. I'm so glad I kept the coat - having not been worn for many years, it's definitely got a new lease of life having had the big chop!

      Delete
  11. I share your pain on many levels when it comes to clothes fitting-it gets even worse in your 50s. Even though i was taught to sew by my mother and at school ( it was compulsory at our convent school, talking the early 70s here), i can take up the odd hem and repair but there is nothing like a professional doing the job. The workmanship shows and it should be part of the process- you are certainly more likely to wear it if it fits than if it doesn't.
    Mind you if my arms were only a couple of inches longer it would save me a lot of money!!!.Enjoyed your post. Marilyn at wood_farm

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh if only my legs were a bit longer I would save so much effort in getting everything taken up too Marilyn! I think separates have become so popular just because of the fact that they suit a wider range of people. I can remember selling swimwear a very long time ago now (20 years!!) and you couldn't buy a bikini in separate sizes, how that has changed now when they recognise that your top and bottom half don't necessarily match up in sizes!

      Delete
  12. That dress is so pretty. Buyiung clothes is ridiculously hard despite the seemingly endless amount of shops in Sydney.

    Go to a sale, all that is left are 8s and 10s which does tell one something.

    i have three handmade suits that were my mothers , made by Hinchcliffe and Pearson who were 2 men (parnters in life and business) who made clothes for quite a few women my mother knew. They are "faux Chanel " silk, linen and some sort of tweedy material (that one has the chain at the bottom of the jacket) and metal buttons.

    Of course they dont fit me around the waist and are too long .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember back in the Olden Days when I worked in retail, we'd get a 1x 8, 2 x 10's, 2 x 12, 2 x 14 and 1 x 16 in sizes. The 16 and 14's would sell immediately, and the 12's would go next. Ridiculous that they still haven't addressed that the majority of women are not going to fit into a size 8. I also learnt that the size on the label has nothing to do with how you look. If you're tall and broad, you can look slim in a 14, and if you're shorter and wide, you'll look big in a 14. The size on the label is fairly irrelevant.
      Those clothes you've got of your Mum's sound wonderful!! If only it was so easy to find that sort of quality these days.

      Delete
  13. Well, you've demonstrated so clearly what a difference expert alterations can make to clothing! The MM has been transformed into a really chic winter coat. Sorry to say this, but judging by first pic, it did kind of swamp you. The others also now look fabulous. (Still love the leopard D&Gs.)
    You're lucky to have found such a good seamstress! Not easy. I'm a dud at anything practical like dressmaking so unless pants are just for house I rarely alter them as they never look good after I've taken scissors and needle to them. So have been guilty of going out with hems rolled till I get to an alterations place. Agree, new buttons can make huge difference. We see this at Op. Shop so often. Sometimes if a button is missing on a good jacket, one of staff will take them all off and replace. On one occasion, original buttons were lovely and the classic well-cut jacket so chic - and then replaced by cheap brassy gold and it was totally ruined. We had to slash price. Hopefully a buyer realised they could do something with it.
    Op Shops can be great sources of good clothing if you have a good eye. Clever DIL found a wonderful Gianfranco Ferre jean jacket at her local Op Shop, looked brand new, and fits her perfectly. She looks fabulous in it. Says she'd never have ventured inside an Op Shop if I hadn't started her off. She now wants to take me on Op Shop expeditions to different parts of Sydney. Great fun! Today wore my Joan Rivers necklace sourced from DILs local. Will always remind me of her. Pammie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, as we all know the Internet is a great place to buy a bargain, but it doesn't always suit in the end. I suspect quite a bit ends up at Op shops waiting to be discovered Pammie! Shame about the jacket with the cheap buttons - the buttons do make a lot of difference. Took me ages to select my new ones, as there was so much choice and some looked good with it, and others looked cheap.
      That coat did swamp me, hence why I never wore it! I'll definitely be getting a lot of use out of it next year.

      Delete
  14. Agree completely on the need for the odd nip and tuck and I so prefer the length of that Max Mara coat on you! But it is the Herrera piece I am really jonesing for!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's such a lovely coat in person Wendy - the drape at the waist is a lovely detail. I still can't believe the price of it, it's in perfect condition.

      Delete
  15. You are such an inspiration and soul sister. I get all pants and tops altered. Tops esp as I am super short. If we had more petite sizing life would be fine. Clothes maintenance essential ...keep up the posts ..you have a legion of fans! You write so well xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish the petite sizing existed in Australia too! Then I wouldn't have to hem pants so much. I'm always taking a meter off the bottom of mine.

      Delete
  16. Dear Heidi,
    I’m all over this post big time.
    It’s only in the last few years that I have let go of vanity sizing and embraced tailoring clothes to 'fit'' me rather than me try to conform to a number. Being bigger in the chesticle regions as my daughter used to describe this area invariably I am left with either a tight and gaping fit or an excess of fabric in areas that are not flattering.
    What a freedom it has been to be able to go ‘up' a size and be at peace with this knowing a nip and tuck here and there can make all the difference to a flattering fit.
    I took a rather over the top Versace shirt that I got for steal to have the sleeves taken up and the length shortened the other day and can’t wait to trot it out here on the GC and probs Melbourne for the summer.
    That Max Mara coat looks completely made over and fabulous so well done.
    I am addicted to JCrew as by credit card can attest too. I have it shipped to an address in the USA and it is often half the price of what they charge per item if you elect to ship it here. The shipping for Jcrew to OZ is cheap but it you do a comparison to the actual item to buy USA vs Oz it nearly double. This makes me very annoyed but feel I have found a way to confound this by using a USA forwarding service.
    Kate BX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wow that's really clever, I didnt' know there was such a thing as a forwarding service

      Delete
    2. You're very switched on KateB! I tend to just use the Australian service if it's one item (and is on sale, like the blazer), but for multiples it's definitely worth the effort. It annoys me that J Crew are charging so much for the 'Australian' site compared to the US.
      Love the sound of the Versace shirt, it will go down a storm on the GC I suspect!
      Never worry about the size on a label. I learnt that very quickly when I worked in retail all those years ago. Someone I thought looked big (but was short) would be a smaller size than someone slim but tall and broad. It really is no reflection of anything at all!!

      Delete
  17. http://smh.domain.com.au/real-estate-news/all-eyes-on-woollahra-prize-20140903-10bpnu.html

    some over priced Sydney houses for you Heidi , the one in Fairfax Road hmm......

    ReplyDelete
  18. I recently discovered the difference that alterations can make. I have a little Italian lady who does my alterations as I have trouble with business suits and jackets gaping because of over large melons. Many dresses also take on a boxy look and require darts in the appropriate area. She tuts and humphs over the quality and sometimes oohs and aahhs over the fabric or the lining. Clearly loves her job. She altered my dress for the wedding of number 2 daughter and the difference it made was amazing. It was not cheap and added about $150 to an already very expensive dress but the thing is, I won’t be throwing that dress out saying to myself, well I never liked how it fit anyway. You always feel better with the right fit. I wish I had discovered this years ago. Great posts Heidi. Tonkath

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, the alterations are not cheap, but definitely worth it if you love the item - the dress sounds like it was definitely worth it. There's nothing worse than feeling ill at ease in an outfit you know doesn't fit properly and flatter you well.
      You see a lot of bad suits in Canberra at the moment - Jackie Lambie needs some tailoring (amongst other things) done to her jackets, as do other pollies (clive, with all his money needs a decent suit too). It really does look awful when something is scaled up wrong on a petite frame with large melons, as you say! The shoulders, sleeves etc are always wrong

      Delete
  19. You look great in all 3 shots wearing your altered garments- how good does your Max Mara coat look now.
    Being tall means I have the opposite problem. Not much fun either when things are too short!
    Love your posts. Den

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Den! That coat definitely has a new lease of life now. So funny to think that I looked at coats online for a long time, before realising that I already had a (cheap) solution in front of me. You have my sympathies on the short front. My sister is tall, and often complains to me… somewhere there's a happy medium!

      Delete
  20. U always have such beautifullly fitting clothing!!! My neighbor gets her jeans altered snd i always mean to do the same snd instead i just complain how the waist is too large and they r always bloppind down.
    Cutting the lenght off that coat made such a diff.
    So great to comment, hsve been trying for ages.., my dpanish thumbs are all toes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeans are definitely the hardest thing to fit!! It's so weird that we've all embraced them too, when they're really not the most comfortable or flattering thing to wear. I guess they tick the practical box. Have been so enjoying reading about your trip Jody!!

      Delete
  21. Hi Heidi. I had my pink dress taken up a bit and it was far more manageable.
    Btw will be in adelaide from sep 17-19.
    Have emailed you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You looked lovely in your pink dress! The wedding sounds wonderful - love a wedding festival!

      Delete
  22. Do you ever have your clothes made, Heidi?
    Also, just curious, are you planning a big party for red letter day later in the year per chance?
    Melody

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the last thing made for me was my Wedding dress 14 years ago! Not sure about a party - my husband and I started discussions last weekend, as we will have a joint celebration. But it won't be in December - too busy for everyone, so will most likely be something early next year. Just what I'm not sure about!

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Search This Blog

About Me

My photo
Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
Powered by Blogger.

Follow by Email

Follow this blog with bloglovin

Follow on Bloglovin

Followers

Things to read....

.