This is a guest post by Well Heeled Blog, a 20-something professional with a nerdy interest in personal finance. In her blog, she writes about topics at the intersection of life & money, with frequent detours into food, shoes, and Argentine tango.
I have been spending money left and right lately, not only because I’ve purchased a few new pieces of clothing, but also because I have been altering a large portion of my existing wardrobe.
Alterations are now a permanent part of my budget
Back in 2010 I got a few pieces of clothing tailored. But then I fell back into my faking-a-fit or this-is-just-a-little-baggy shtick. Then I got engaged and CB found a suit. We found a very good tailor – she did an amazing job on his suit that fit well off the rack, but looks SO MUCH BETTER once it was contoured to his lines. I couldn’t believe what just a little nip and tuck could do. And so, I went down the rabbit hole.
Between January and now, I have also lost 10 pounds. Clothes that were too snug got perfectly right. Clothes that were right before, however, became way too loose. I started making weekly pilgrimages to the tailor. First it was a black sheath that was a little too baggy and the sleeves a little too long. After I got it back, I look Mad Men ready. Then the suit jacket and dress that fit me perfectly at the shoulders but gave me too much room around the sides. And a velvet blazer with a roomy waist, a lace dress that needs to be taken in, a silk blouse with an annoying gap at the bust… and the numbers add up! In the last month, I must have spent almost $300 on alterations. Here’s the thing, though, once I see how much better clothes LOOK when they are properly tailored, it’s difficult to go back to the days of accepting a mediocre fit.
Why alterations & tailoring make such a big difference
Most men expect to have their clothes tailored, especially when it comes to formal clothes. But many women (and I count myself among them) would rather buy two OK-fitting dresses at $80 each instead of forgoing one dress and spending the extra $80 on an alterations job on the remaining dress. Then I found a really great post from Kelly from Alterations Needed that talked about the lesson from What Not To Wear expert Clinton Kelly: get. everything. tailored. At the grand reveal of What Not to Wear episodes, the makeover subject always looks amazing in their new wardrobe. For the longest time, I didn’t realize that they would have ALL of their pieces tailored. Wow!
Making room in your budget for alterations is especially important when you are a “special” size – i.e. if you are petite, plus-sized, if you are one size on top and another on the bottom, if you are long-waisted for your height, if you are short-waisted, etc. Basically, unless you are a fit model, give alterations a try! When clothes fit and flatter, you don’t really think about “that dress hits the woman at the right spot on the knee” or “his blazer isn’t baggy at all!” You just think “that person is so well put-together.” And that is the magic of tailoring – it shifts the focus away from ill-fitting garments and instead emphasizes the wearer, who looks stylish, confident, polished.
The upside to all this tailoring, aside from looking better? Knowing that in all likelihood that I would need alterations on most pieces of clothes, I am also learning to look at new purchases with a critical eye and a new calculation. Am I willing to spend 20%-60% of its purchase price on alterations? If not, I put it back on the shelf.
Do you tailor your clothes?