The Perfect Fit
Being budget conscious doesn’t just mean being choosy about when you opt for basic over designer. Getting the most from your clothes often means investing in versatile, well-made, simple pieces — but you can take it a step further.
Tailoring your clothing will help you get more from what you already own. Never again will you let a pricey, gorgeous piece hang unworn in your closet just because you don’t like the fit. Or, worse, drop even more cash on a replacement.
Here are the six items (you probably already own) that you should always have tailored. One note: Depending on the garment, tailoring can take one to several weeks, so plan accordingly.
If classic button-up shirts are a cornerstone of your work uniform, they need to look on point. But if you’re busty, chances are you know this already: “The most common problem area for women with button-up shirts is the gap between the bust,” says Sheah Ableman, tailor at Bindle & Keep, which does custom shirting and suits for men and women (but does not alter outside garments). The simplicity of these lines leaves no margin for error. A fit that’s even slightly off can create tension gaps between buttons, stressed fabric pulling, unflattering darts, and cuffs that don’t fall where they should, she says.
Allowing any of these faults in your button-ups wrecks their classic fit — or leaves you with a closet of unworn wardrobe staples. When in doubt, buy too large, then have it nipped by a professional.
Price check: Tailoring for a button-up shirt generally starts at $20
The magic of this garment relies entirely in the perfect execution of that A-shaped line, and it’s utterly unforgiving when the fit is off. Problem areas to note are usually the waist (which should never be loose, but not too tight, either) and the bust. Smaller-chested ladies should get any extra fabric tailored out, since slouching or looseness screws up the silhouette.
Price check: Tailoring for a dress generally starts at $40
Lines on these should be straight and clean, which means you should be extra vigilant about excess fabric and space around the waist. While you should be able to sit down and walk comfortably, extra fabric inflates the line so you will no longer have the slim-fitting pants you were after.
“The crop should be intentional-looking,” says Vogue.com market editor Kelly Connor, adding that the end of the pant should fall at the slimmest part of your ankle for optimal fit. For more petite women, this means hemming (strategically cropping your own leg and creating a bit of an optical illusion also makes your legs look longer).
Price check: Tailoring for pants generally starts at $10
Suits and Blazers
There are few things sadder than an ill-fitting suit or blazer. If you invest in a garment as versatile and long-lasting as a suit, go the extra mile and have it tailored specifically to your body. If you don’t have the budget to buy designer, good tailoring can make even a mediocre suit look like a million bucks.
The sleeves, waistline, and jacket length are generally what need to be modified, says Abelman. Waistlines can vary according to personal preference: “Whether we make a feminine or an androgynous suit, we like to have a defined waistline,” she says, “but it's all about what the client prefers. You can still have a fitted suit without an hourglass waist. Many of our clients prefer an A-line waist, which is fitted without appearing too curvy.”
The key to a chic blazer is always detailed fit. Small elements — like the sleeve length — are what distinguish a clean cut from looking like you’re playing dress-up in your dad’s clothes.
“I typically like a blazer sleeve to fall right at the hinge, where the hand connects to the wrist,” says Abelman. The length “should be in proportion to your arms, legs, and also account for your hips,” she says. More feminine blazers are typically cut on the shorter side, but shorter-cut androgynous blazers are becoming trendier — so speak up about exactly what you want.
Price check: Tailoring for blazers generally starts at $20
Any Formal Evening Dress
The cocktail dress or black-tie gown you wear to formal gatherings or company galas should fit impeccably — this is not the time to look disheveled. Even if it wasn’t exactly cheap to begin with, have an off-the-rack dress tailored.
Make sure draping happens where it’s supposed to, straps aren’t cutting into your skin, the hem is flawless, and you aren’t drowning in ruching. If the dress is a classic, you’ll wear it to multiple functions and ultimately get a huge return on your investment.
Price check: Tailoring for sheath dresses generally starts at $45