The Swagger Coach: Nip it, Snip it, Crop it, Dye it – Using Alterations to Create the Perfect Wardrobe

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You’ve stood in a change room, leering critically at the outfit you were wearing at the time and thought to yourself, “This would be perfect if it were just a little more ______.” Then you probably tossed it on the bench (or hung it up neatly, and if you did, thanks kindly on behalf of the retail world) and went on your merry way. You may have even thought back on it later that day or week, wishing it was different in some way.

You missed out.

A friend who wears an H-cup bra left me with a quote I have forever kept stored in my noggin. She said, “I shop for clothes like I’m shopping for fabric. Nothing ever looks right off the rack, but my tailor can make it perfect. I never fool myself into thinking I’m buying a finished product.”

She kept this mindset due to the fact that, as she mentioned, nothing ever looks right directly off the rack on her body type, and most required almost an all-out restructuring of the item. For some of us who just happen to be born with arms which fall at the perfect length, or a waist-to-hip ratio which effortlessly slips into a pair of non-stretch slacks, life is easy-peasy. Every woman I’ve met has a “trouble spot” which they (and often ONLY they) see. Its highly unlikely that the mathematical formula for the “perfect proportions” apply to the majority of us, or without a slight variance on one end or another. The rest of us stare longingly at items which are too long/pale/boxy for our shapes and resign ourselves to the fact that the garment has won the battle, and it’s up to us to slink away, defeated.

I’m your coach. I’m in your corner, offering you a bottle of Gatorade (is that still a thing?) and reminding you that YOU’RE the champion of the shopping match, and YOU’RE now going to go kick that garment’s butt. Not only will you not it allow it to overcome you or disguise your awesome figure, you’re about to tame it into submission by having it altered and tailored to your liking, and making it beg for mercy. Not only can you own that item, you can make it look foxy on you too. Don’t fear it, make it fear you. You’re the boss lady.

There are those who say, “Oh, but after all the changes I’d have to make, I could probably find something that fits better.” Maybe. Maybe not. Is the fitting issue you’re having the same one you have often? Do you simply have a hard-to-fit body because you’re, you know, human shaped? If you do, welcome to the club. The wonderful thing about alterations is that they can literally create the perfect garment.

If an item pops out to you (I mean a good item, like an awesome dress or a wicked pair of patterned pants or something, not a plain white t-shirt or a pair of yoga pants) you can make it work for you. You can have your cake, and eat it too. And let me tell you, yeah, alterations do hike up the price of the item by a few bucks, and those bucks do stack up. BUT. The stack of bucks I’ve wasted in my early years exploring fit in fashion (due to buying LOTS of items and being dissatisfied with them) is a LOT higher than the stack I’ve spent on tailoring. Think of it as though you’re curating an art gallery. Pick out good quality items in good quality fabrics, which have the option of being worn with a variety of different types of outfits. Remember that changing buttons, dyeing, darting and nipping can make a MASSIVE difference in the effect an item has. Custom-tailored outfits are a few dollars away from anyone’s reach, and it’s worth the investment to have an entire wardrobe of hand-picked garments which are tailored to suit your specific body and measurements.

Your homework for the weekend, readers, is to go into your closet, open it up and pick ONE item which you have not worn as often as you’d like because of a fitting issue. Try it on, and take note of the little things you’d change. Removing a layer of lace? Cropping and narrowing a skirt? Darting the waist on a summer dress? Whichever the case, march that garment right on down to your local tailor (get recommendations from friends, word of mouth is the best way to discover neighbourhood treasures) and get it done. Do the same if you’re shopping and you find a piece you ADORE but know needs some work. Treat yourself to the victory of making fashion accommodate YOU. Show that skirt who’s boss. Atta girl.

One thought on “The Swagger Coach: Nip it, Snip it, Crop it, Dye it – Using Alterations to Create the Perfect Wardrobe

  1. Thanks, great article! I often wish I could alter things, but am totally hopeless in that department! And I have absolutely fallen into that “buying things I don’t LOVE” trap. And yes, it’s a trap! I end up swapping them at clothing swaps, or donating them.