Want to know the single greatest game-changer in this whole getting dressed thing?
In my last post I talked about cutting yourself some slack and accepting that even though things might not be exactly as you wanted them to be, what you have is enough. And today I want to talk about accepting that you aren’t always going to find the perfect pair of pants that fit you right off the rack and hug you just right. You may get lucky sometimes, especially once you find a brand that works for your body, but if you’re anything like me it can be challenging finding clothes that work for your unique body shape.
When I finally accepted that getting my clothes tailored was going to be a regular part of the shopping experience, looking for pants got a whole lot easier.
If clothes don’t fit you right off the rack, that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. I used to become so frustrated when it came time to shop for jeans. I’d look at myself in the dressing room mirror and think, “If I hadn’t eaten that pretzel yesterday; If I had taken my running more seriously; If I was more vigilant with working out and eating healthier.” And how un-fun is that!
Here is some news that might be revolutionary for you: You do not have to take clothes at face value. You can make them work for you, instead of you working for them. A few tweaks and suddenly you have a pair of pants that looks stunning on you.
Keep in mind that anything with lining and pieces with intricate detailing are going to take more work. An existing seam where you want an alteration made makes it even easier so I always look at where the seams are on the garment.
That brings us to budgeting and how tailoring plays a part in it.
Some people keep a separate tailoring budget for their clothes, but I prefer to factor it into my overall budget.
I factor in that my jeans will most likely have to be altered when I’m shopping. I know it will cost me anywhere from $10-$40 depending on what I am getting done. I had a lot of alterations made to a pair of jeans (read all about it on my blog today!) that came to $30, but the jeans only cost $15 from Loft. So overall they were still less than expensive than a lot of jeans out there!
A few things to keep in mind:
- Check the return policy. You might buy a garment thinking what you want is an easy fix until you get to the tailor and they tell you it will cost an extra $30 or it will completely change the look of the piece. That might not fit your needs so you want to be able to return the garment.
- The more alterations the garment needs, the more it will cost. I typically won’t buy a piece if it needs more than 1 or 2 alterations, but sometimes a piece warrants the extra time and cost put into it with alterations.
- So how can you find pieces to fit you through alteration? It’s simple. Fit the widest part of your body. For me, that’s my hips and thighs. My waist is pretty small so I buy jeans that fit my thighs comfortably and have the waist taken in. I also have bigger calves so if I want straight leg jeans it’s sometimes easier for me to find boot cut or flare jeans that fit and have the calf (and sometimes knees) taken in.
- If your waist is bigger than your hips, buy pants to fit your waist and have the legs altered. Got a bust that makes the waist of your tops/dresses look baggy? Fit the garment to your bust and have the waist taken in.
- Tailors are extremely helpful. And sometimes they laugh at you. When I took my jeans to my tailor and told her all the things I wanted done she kept going “shorter? shorter? shorter?” when I wasn’t happy with the length she was suggesting. But she has also shown me what a difference taking in the knee of pants can make! They’ll have you try the garment on and they’ll pin all the changes you want made. That way you can get an idea of what it will look like when they’re all done.
- Not all tailors are cut from the same cloth. Like what I did there? I found my tailor on a whim years ago. I didn’t put any time or effort into finding one, I just went to the place closest to my work. Fortunately I lucked out and have been happy with both their work and prices. But I have heard of some bad experiences people have had with tailors and it completely turned them off to the process. Ask around, use the internet to read reviews, and maybe test the tailor with an old garment or a piece you don’t care so much about.
Click on over to my blog to learn more and see the jeans I had altered!
Sweater: JCrew Factory
Pants: Loft (really old– same style and brand)
Shoes: Target (similar)
Earrings: Elisabeth & Ashlie (similar)
Such great advice in this post, Jacquelyn! Love this outfit on you as well. Thanks for sharing. :-)
your pun gave me my first laugh of the day. thanks!! cute outfit. i love the emeralds on you, and the tailoring suggestions are really helpful.
Thank you so much for writing such a great post! Your words couldn’t ring more true for me. I tend to get so frustrated because I don’t really have hips or thighs, so fitting something to my waist means it will be baggy everywhere else…not cute. If they fit right at my hips and thighs, then I have a muffin top going on, even less cute! I just started taking a few things in for tailoring a couple of months ago and it really makes a huge difference. I have to come to terms with the fact that tailoring is a necessity for me and that it’s okay.
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
I totally feel you on this! It’s amazing what taking the time to get the fit right for you can do for your confidence and look!
Samantha Roberts says
Thank you for this! I have always felt too intimidated to entertain the idea of tailoring, but this post really helped! I have some slacks tucked away that would be perfect – if they weren’t so long. Now to find a tailor..
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
Taking up the hem in slacks is one of the easiest things a tailor can do so that’s a great exercise to try out tailors! Find a few that are convenient to you and take a pair to each tailor. Remember they need about a week to do the work so if you are actively wearing the pants only do one at a time. When you’re there ask questions about other things you’re thinking of having done!
I definitely feel your pain! I have larger hips but a small waist and finding pants can be so frustrating at times…especially when it comes to jeans. I think once you take steps towards really mindful purchases and only wearing what makes you feel great, it also opens you up to be more willing to invest a little extra in alterations to make a great piece a perfect piece. Shopping less and buying more consciously frees up the funds to actually do that! That being said, I have found great luck in the Extra Stretch Skinny Pants from The Limited. So thankful for those pants!! Loft has awesome options too. Love this outfit on you :)
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
Exactly! When you aren’t spending $200 on clothes that will fade fast you have the funds for a few alterations. BTW, totally didn’t intend for all the alliteration there!
I love the idea of getting my clothes tailored, but I haven’t had much success in finding a tailor that makes the clothes look good on me. Do you have any tips for how to find a good tailor?
Finding the perfect tailor is like finding a diamond in a bin of cubic zirconia (what a lame simile, I know!). But once you find that tailor, you have to cling to them :). I found mine through word-of-mouth, and she is wonderful. Of course, then I had to up and move thousands of miles away. Luckily she’s near some friends, so when I go visit them, I usually bring 6 or 7 garments to be tailored. She’s quite skilled and very affordable. She’ll also do custom-made stuff for a great price, which is another great option if you can swing it.
Thanks for this very important post! I think so many people overlook how enormous a difference tailoring can make. For those interested in the ethics of buying clothes, knowing a good tailor can really open up a lot of secondhand options (which often have the advantage of being better made, with better materials) that don’t fit perfectly as-is but can be altered to be perfect.
Wow! I have never even considered a tailor before but I definently will when shopping now! I am lucky enough to be 5’7″ so most clothes fit off the rack, at least pants. And jeans are just hard to shop for jeez. I had to do so much shopping around. I do have a pretty large bust and it is so frustrating to find tops / dresses that fit sometimes. Thanks for the insight / advice on tailoring!
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
at 5’8″ most pants fit me too at the right length but sometimes I just need a smidge extra room! I’ve never altered anything to accomodate my chest because I can usually find something that works but I love wrap dresses so I’m thinking of ways to alter a wrap dress to be less revealing.
Since we’re talking about thighs being a challenge already, maybe you could also chime in with some advice on a related issue? I never get pants tailored, because I only count on being able to wear them for about 4 months before the thighs rip out. Just yesterday my current favorite pair of jeans finally succumbed after a record 10 months—do other people just not have this issue? Or do you invest in getting your clothes tailored anyway despite knowing how little life you’ll get out of them?
You are definitely not alone having this issue with your pants! It drives me crazy to the point I even tried to avoid wearing jeans altogether. I finally caved in and bought a pair at the end of January and they already show signs of wear at the thighs after I wore them like 10 times? I do think it has to do with the quality of the denim used: I only face this issue with my skinny jeans, which are usually made in a thinner and stretchier fabric than my 10-year old, almost intact despite contstant wearing, bootcut jeans. So maybe it is a question of selecting a heavier fabric? In the meantime, I’m trying to prevent my “new” pair from ripping prematurely with fabric iron-on patches on the inside, where the fabric has already faded and shows signs of wear. I hope it works!
Jacquelyn @justjacq says
Hi Erin! I know this is a big problem for a lot of people but I’ve never faced this issue. I like Sarah’s suggestion below of reinforcing those problem spots with patches on the inside. I’d suggest actually going to a tailor with your pants and asking them if they have any suggestions. You could also try calling customer service where you bought them from and see what they say. You’d be surprised at the wealth of knowledge they have! In terms of altering clothes with their life in mind, most of my clothes last me a while. Maybe it’s because I pay a little extra for those staple pieces I know will be timeless? But I wouldn’t invest the money in altering a piece I know will only be around for a season unless it’s for a special occasion like a wedding. I don’t feel like I was much help here, sorry! I think reinforcing the area with a patch would probably work really well.
Fantastic post– great advice! I’ll definitely have to look into tailoring. Blakely, you mentioned getting custom-made garments (which sounds amazing). Can you (or anyone else!) give a ballpark estimate on how much you can expect to spend on custom clothing? I’d LOVE to get something made. Thanks for any info!
Italian Fashion Tailor says
Really a great advice, Thanks a lot for this article!