Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Creative Alteration

I love this skirt more every time I wear it; the construction is superb and it's so thick and sturdy that it needs no lining or slip to make it opaque. Admittedly though, it can be a bit challenging to work with. I had actually hit upon pairing it with this pink top before, but found that the hip-length top was too long and threw the proportions off. However, adding the elastic belt allowed me to take up some of the length, by folding it neatly underneath the belt and tucking it out of sight. I've got a million tricks up my sleeve, let me tell ya!

This reminds me of the episodes of What Not to Wear that I was watching over the weekend, in which Clinton and Stacy kept telling people to make the clothes work for them. This is so true; you do not have to settle for flaws that make a garment less than perfect for you, nor do you have to pass something by completely, simply because one minor element is off.

Beyond the obvious fixes like taking up length, you can alter the shape of a garment by adding darts or pintucks, make straps narrower or even wider (this was a suggestion of Clinton and Stacy's; take a couple inches off the hem of a dress and use it to make wider straps), turn a dress into a skirt or a romper into a dress, and just about anything else your imagination can dream up. These options are particularly important to keep in mind while you're thrift shopping, because when the original item is so affordable it's not as big of a deal to take a chance on a creative alteration.

What's the most creative or dramatic alteration you've ever made to a garment? Did you do it yourself or take it to a tailor?

Top: Weston Wear
Cardigan: Express, a gift from my aunt
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Necklace: Manu Lizarralde
Skirt: Marc by Marc Jacobs
Boots: All Black


Megan G said...

Great idea with the top!

I'm always thinking of things to make my clothing more wearable. I've had sleeves removed, hems taken up, straps altered. I even had a pair of boots altered to fit my calf size.

I've had more ideas that I haven't gone through with. I try to guess how much I'd even wear an item before I put the 'extra' work in, sometimes it's easier to move on to find something already made.

I always have a tailor (or MIL) do the work. The best I can do is sew a button or small hole.

Rebecca said...

I am in the process of trying to turn a pair of men's wool pants into a pair of high waisted pants for me.

Charlotte said...

I've just started altering clothes a bit. I've worn a few dresses as skirts, and I have a skirt that I want to shorten. I've just barely started shopping at thrift stores, so I'm sure there is more in my future. I want to try dyeing at some point.

et said...

The most dramatic change a tailor made for me was simple - just taking in an inch or so on the shoulder made the entire top fit correctly (I had expected to have to take in the side seams, etc.).

The other day I shopped for tops & ended up buying a variety of sizes depending on whether I wanted the top to drape or would be wearing it as a more fitted underlayer - how fun to free myself of looking at only one size (& increased options on the sale racks).

I've learned to look at clothes off the rack in an entirely different way from your blog. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

This is still in progress, but I am reworking a black cropped cashmere sweater - the seam attaching the turleneck is too tight for my head to comfortably bypass, so I've removed the turleneck, undone the shoulder seams, and will at some point get around to folding the...shoulder-corners under and covering them with a little border to make a boatneck. This will involve knitting with tiny, tiny needles (US 000), and I still have my Christmas gift knitting to do, so it has been pushed to the back burner.

Anonymous said...

I always have to have trouser hems taken up and waists taken in. So much easier to get a seamstress to do it!.

If it's just hems though, no worries. Have three skirts waiting for me this weekend.....they're just not quite the right length on me as they are.

Audi,you've inspired me to start taking daily photos of my outfits. It's been an eye-opener! Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

So interesting. I did a massive closet purge last night and finally let go of a bunch of things that had been lingering BECAUSE I felt like I could "make them work"! I agree that smarts and creativity can go a long way in getting garments to play nicely, but sometimes you've gotta throw in the towel.

Anonymous said...

What always surprises me - and still surprises me! - Is that so many people don't really care how their clothes fit. Fit is so important. If your clothes fit - you feel good and you look good, too.

Jen said...

It's so funny that you posed this question today. After reading your blog all this time, I've been longing for a tulle or organza underskirt for ages, but I couldn't find one for a reasonable price that wasn't either too fluffy or too ratty looking.

I went to Hobby Lobby today, and I found these awesome organza table cloths. They're a giant rectangle of organza (54"x108") and most importantly, they're hemmed all the way around. I bought some black satin blanket binding, and some more interesting ribbon, and I think with the help of a couple of old slips and some unfortunately tedious sewing, I'm going to have two lovely underskirts for less than $20! I'm all proud of myself for figuring it out. They come in other colors too, so if this turns out as well as I think it will, I might have to branch out and try a color next time.

tinyjunco said...

ooh Jen, awesome idea. thanks for sharing! and Audi, thanks for doing so much explaining on how you make clothes do your bidding.....Sal makes a good point as well. for me, it comes down to if i really really love the garment, and a little tweak will make it perfect, then it's worth it.

but if i'm just kind of forcing myself to go thru the motions because i have this and i SHOULD...bleagh. forget it. i'm just not into the 'challenge' of it, tho for some ladies that's the fun of it!

recently i turned peterman wide legged pants into a long denim skirt....
i really liked the fabric and the waist details, plus i wanted a long straight skirt. it went smoother than i thot it would and i like the skirt a lot!

keep on letting us in on your styling secrets, o fearless leader!! steph

Audi said...

Sal: I totally agree that if it's always a struggle to make a garment work, it's not worth the effort. What I love though, are little tricks that can make an already good garment even more versatile, or a simple alteration that can fix it forever.

Jen: Wow, I'd love to see the outcome of your project! What a great idea.

tinyjunco: I'm in awe of your sewing skills, and turning those pants into a skirt was genius!

Jean said...

Love this outfit! Every so often you have an outfit on that I feel I can adapt and copy from items in my own wardrobe, and this is one of those. Thanks!

Raquelita said...

I love this skirt paired with the drapey top and cardi. I'm glad you made this work with the belt.

I have limited sewing skills, so most of my alterations have been done by a tailor, and I have to admit I've never been particularly creative or inventive with my alterations. Maybe I should start thinking more about this.

Fawn said...

I was hoping to come back and comment on this with a reference to a cute dress I was planning to turn into a skirt, but it turned out the lining on the dress didn't have enough give in it. Since chopping the top off the dress, adding a waistband, AND relining the skirt would have turned an $8 thrift store find into a $70 project, I decided against it. Now I think I'm going to make it into throw pillows instead.

Colleen said...

I asked you before what kind of flash you use, but what kind of overhead lights do you have in the room that you take your picture?

Audi said...

Colleen: None, actually. All the light in the photos is either from the natural light coming in through the windows, or from the flash bounced off the white ceiling. That may have to change as the mornings get darker, but so far in this house I haven't used any other artificial light besides the flash.