Clothing Alterations (part 1)
Having a stylist is a luxury that not all people can afford. But you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to hire someone that will help you look more pulled together.
That’s why Freer, whose client roster includes everyone from Nickelodeon and Comedy Central actors to WWE entertainers and “In Living Color” Fly Girls, is a huge advocate for tailoring.
Freer has quite a few styling tricks up her sleeve, and now it’s easier for everyone to gain access to her straight-forward advice for cheap. Her new book “How To Get Dressed“ gets to the nitty-gritty of revamping your wardrobe.
“If you really love the look of something, it’s always worth altering,” said Freer. “But this makes you get real with yourself: Do I truly love it? Or am I buying something that is just ‘okay’ out of habit or boredom? I have $20 pieces from Forever 21 that were altered that are the stars of my personal wardrobe lineup!”
Below is an excerpt from Freer’s book on eight clothing alterations she believes are totally worth it.
- Shorten a shirt or add a shirttail hem.
“Having a shirt hem taken up even a half inch can make a big difference, as a too-long top can overwhelm a petite frame and always tends to bunch up and look sloppy,” Freer says. “On most simple tops (even those with buttons), you can ask your tailor to add a curved, shirttail style hem instead of a boring straight one. This will create a more interesting, flattering silhouette. This alteration also allows you to tuck tops into clingier skirts or pants with only minimal bunching.
“However, if there are pockets or zippers involved near the hem of the shirt, attempting to shorten it probably isn’t worth the trouble. Leave those pieces on the rack and never look back, because replacing zippers and moving pockets can become costly alterations.”
- Take in a shirt at the side seams.
“The golden rule of alterations is that anywhere a straight seam exists on a garment is pretty much fair game for an alteration. So if you’re considering the purchase of a blouse you love with a fit that’s on the not-so-perfect boxy side, check to see if it has a straight seam on each side of the body. If it does, march right up to the register and pay for that bad boy, because taking a straight seam in at the sides is one of the easiest clothing fixes there is.
“If your boxy-cut shirt has sleeves, the alteration becomes slightly more complicated, as the tailor will need to cut into the underarm area too. But altering the sides through the underarm is still easily accomplished and totally worth doing. Just keep in mind that it means you’ll have to make sure the shirt in question has enough room in the underarm to allow for a small chunk of fabric to be removed. If it’s big on the sides but tight in the underarm, it’s a no-go.”
- Take up a shoulder seam (or shorten your straps).
“This is the mother of all alterations for those of you with short torsos. If you find that many garments hang down a little too low in front and shows the sides of your bra, it’s likely due to the shoulder seam being too long. And a good shoulder fit is important, as it can actually improve the look and feel of the entire garment. This alteration works best with a sleeveless or tank top style blouse, as removing the sleeve and reattaching it is tricky, and many times, they won’t hang right afterward.
“Taking a sleeveless garment up at the shoulder seam is an easy, inexpensive fix,” Freer added. “However, it does automatically raise the front and back necklines too, making the neckline circumference smaller. Whatever amount you raise the shoulder seam will also take the armhole up by the same amount. So make sure you can afford to lose the room before you take the plunge.”
- Hem a pair of pants or jeans.
“A simple hem on a pair of pants should run you about $12, but the difference it makes in your look is priceless. Just a few inches off the bottom allows the pants to fall straight from your hips as the designer intended — resulting in a clean, sleek, fresh line from waist to floor.
“Everyone thinks shortening the hem of jeans is totally out of the question because it’s so hard to replicate the original one due to stitching details. But it’s really not — you just need to turn your tailor on to the ‘Hollywood Hem.’ To achieve it, put your jeans on and figure out where you want the new length to be. Use a pin to mark the spot. Then, cuff the legs up (so they are inside out) until the original hem is right above your existing pin. Use another pin to secure the cuff into place. Take your jeans to the tailor and have them sew right below the original hem, taking care not to sew through any part of the original hem itself. Once it’s stitched down, your tailor will cut off the bottom fold of excess fabric, flip the original hem down and press it into place. Your jeans will now fit properly and look as if they came from the store that way!”
A word of caution: “Always make sure to wash and dry your jeans at least once or twice before hemming so they can get all the shrinkage out of their system,” Freer advises. “Then, and only then, will you know how much you can safely chop off.”