Category Archives: Ready to wear

Hemmed in

While even the smallest alterations in a garment can make a big difference in how the garment looks on someone, I personally prefer to save my tailoring budget for projects that are a bit complicated (such as taking in a waist, hemming denim, or anything involving a gauzy fabric).

I’ve found that with a little (and I mean a very little) practice, it’s really easy to do a great hem on a pair of pants or a pencil skirt.  Not only do I save money, but I can do it while I’m watching TV or a movie.

The best hem stitch tutorial I’ve found is by sewingwithlaura on Youtube.  It’s easy to follow and creates a quality invisible hem (you can’t see it from the front side of the fabric).  No more waiting to wear those fabulous linen pants you just picked up!

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Sew perfect

Now that you’ve acquired a few articles of clothing that really flatter your body type, it’s time to get them tailored so that they fit perfectly.

My favorite seamstress, Verna, is amazing at making your clothes look A.MAZ.ING, but she’s a bit camera shy, so I interviewed her off-camera to get all the juicy details about tailoring and what it can do for you.

How long have you been sewing, Verna? I made my first dress for myself when I was 11 years old. I am past retirement age now so that would be a good clue as to how long I have been at my sewing machines!! A long time no matter how you calculate.

How did you begin tailoring clothes? I started doing alterations after my daughter was born in ’72 and I was a stay at home Mom. I needed to help with the family income and actually did full dressmaking. I no longer take on that task.

What are the easiest tailoring “fixes”? The easiest are just minor fixes like to lengthen or shorten pants, skirts and day dresses.

Most difficult? The most difficult would be garments that have many pieces in the design and any piece with a lot of detail or trim, such as beading.

What are the least expensive tailoring services? Least expensive are the minor changes such as hemming and seam repairs.

Most expensive? Working on anything with lots of detail and fabrics that don’t lend well to reworking can be expensive, if it can be done at all. Fine fabrics and silks are not forgiving.

If I see an article of clothing in the store, but it doesn’t fit quite right, how can I know whether or not a tailor can fix it? If you need something made a little smaller it can be done within reason. You must take into account the seams, pockets etc and know how it will place them after the work is done. To make something bigger can be limited. There is only so much seam allowance to work with and it may not be worth the effort.

What are some fit problems that can’t really be fixed by a tailor? That would depend on t he garment and the person it is for. Bear in mind that you only have the fabric in the garment to work with. You can take away but you can’t add fabric. Your tailor must be reasonably sure that he can alter the garment to your specifications.

What is your favorite sewing project that you’ve ever done? I love making a bride happy with the fit of her gown. I recently did the bride and bridesmaid gowns for my granddaughters wedding. They were all beautiful. My other favorite project is my quilting that I do for myself and my family. I learn something every time I go to work on a quilt and it is an art form all its own.

Any other suggestions? Try to get references or recommendations for a tailor or seamstress. If that doesn’t work try to see how long they have been doing it. Sometimes simple work can be done by the alterations person at your local dry cleaners. Anything that is very involved should be done by a reputable tailor.

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To A Tee

We Americans have come to expect three things from newly-acquired T-shirts:

1. They can’t have those annoying tags that scratch your neck.
2. They have to look like we’ve been wearing them into that undeniably cool, lived-in state for years.
3. They have to FEEL like we’ve been wearing them into that undeniably cool, lived-in state for years (in fabric-speak, that’s called having a nice hand).

L to R: Christina, Will (Founder of Trinitee Apparel), and his gorg wife, Andrea
All wearing Trinitee Apparel
Photo by Mike Nykile

And so imagine my (very pleasant) surprise when my friend announced the launch of his recent creative venture, Trinitee Apparel.

Will is known for excellence in all his endeavors, and his most recent one does not disappoint.  If your guy lives in tees like mine does, he’ll be happy to know that not only do Trinitee’s tees meet the aforementioned requirements for pure T-shirt bliss, they also come at a very reasonable price, so you can stock up his entire closet for the summer in one fell swoop.

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Hitting the mall

This jacket is one of my favorite mall purchases. Photo by Michael Vera.

Shopping at a large mall offers a great selection of items, but can be overwhelming (not to mention time-consuming).  I prefer to spend less time shopping for my clothes and more time living in them, so below I’ve shared some of my favorite tips that I hope will make your mall trips more fruitful and fun.

  • Shop alone. Wear simple clothing (for easy changing in the dressing room) with minimal accessories (to avoid catching them on any delicate items).
  • Focus on the stores that best reflect your style.
  • Have a list of what you need. (The Shopping Strategy by Nina Garcia makes this process super-easy by breaking it down into 3 questions: What do I have?  What do I need? and What do I want? Bonus: it’s simply gorgeous due to the work of famed illustrator Ruben Toledo).
  • Keep in mind your B.A.S.E. wardrobe (does it flatter your body type, will it serve you well for situations you most often find yourself in, etc.?).  As you practice, you will be able to browse through merchandise much, much faster.
  • Rarely deviate from your list of needed items (example: a find from the gods appears before you, such as when I found a perfectly-fitting, just-my-style Dolce and Gabbana skirt suit ON SALE ON SALE ON SALE at a local consignment shop).   Being a.)desperate for anything, or b.) depressed/frustrated/hungry/cranky are not good reasons to buy random items.
  • Let a salesperson help you, but don’t let them talk you into things that aren’t for you.  Personal examples:

I walk into Sephora.  The fact that there are literally 800 blushes on the shelf makes me want to call it a day and run to the nearest Starbucks for a Venti Caramel Macchiato, but I tell a salesperson that I am looking for a blush and give her a few ideas of what I like, and pretty soon she has narrowed those 800 (you think I’m kidding) options down to 5, from which I can pretty somewhat easily choose one.

I am in the dressing room. Salesperson: “Why don’t you try on this neon yellow top?  Neon yellow is THE color to wear this season.” Me: “Thanks, but I don’t prefer neon yellow.  I really like these kelly green shorts, though.” At which point the salesperson jokes about my husband calling and saying I can buy whatever I want, so why don’t I buy both? And then brings me a pair of neon yellow jeans.  And a neon yellow headband.

  • Don’t settle!  Many times, our choices are not between good and bad, but between good and best (perhaps much of life is characterized by this dilemma?).
  • Be patient.  Unless you are a person of unlimited means, creating a wardrobe that showcases the fabulousness that is you is a process, not a one-day fix.  Hold out for special pieces that really become you.

Now that you’ve bagged a few amazing pieces to incorporate into your wardrobe, take a few minutes to enjoy a nice cup of Earl Grey in the food court while people-watching.  There–that wasn’t so bad, was it?

I’d love to hear your tips on what makes your shopping trips more productive (or any shopping frustrations you have)!  Please leave me a note in the comment section below.

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It’s in the bag

“I used to buy good shoes; now I buy good bags. They make me feel more confident.”
–Marc Jacobs

The cost-per-wear concept has paid the greatest dividend for me in the bags I carry.  I’m a busy girl, and prefer not to go through the hassle of changing my bag every day, so it’s imperative that I have one that plays nicely with all my clothes.  Recently, I had to replace an old favorite—a B.Makowsky creation purchased at a steal of $90 at T.J. Maxx that had lasted me almost three years (carried every day, it had a cost-per-wear of a mere 8 cents)!!

I loved the B.Makowsky so much that I decided to look for another one, and scored again at T.J. Maxx–a red beauty for $140.  I was a little nervous about it working with my entire wardrobe, but I’ve been carrying it for a couple of weeks now, and it meshes with everything quite nicely.  Even if I only use it on weekdays for the next three years, the cost-per-wear will be under 18 cents.  Not to mention that it adds serious polish to whatever I pair it with.

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Cheap = Expensive

“Lo que es barato sale caro y lo que es caro sale barato.”

(What is cheap ends up being expensive and what is expensive ends up being cheap).
–Cuban expression often quoted by Audrey Hepburn

Need some real-life examples of the cost-per-wear concept? This weekend, scroll through the archives of two of my favorite blogs–Jessica Quirk’s blog What I Wore and Kelly Framel’s blog The Glamourai–for some inspiration. Two ladies with wildly different styles (and clothing budgets), they both embrace this concept and wear certain items regularly.

My favorite item that Jessica rocks repeatedly is a beautiful pair of House of Harlow brown woven wedges, while Kelly Framel incorporates an Helmut Lang tuxedo blazer in many of her outfits.

Jessica Quirk of What I Wore

Kelly Framel, a.k.a. The Glamourai

While both of these pieces might make a dent in a girl’s wallet initially, they more than pay for themselves over time. In fact, Kelly’s so pleased with her blazer that she says, “At $575, it’s not exactly cheap, but after having seen how useful it’s been in my own wardrobe, I’d happily pay double!!”

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Be prepared for any situation

“I have heard with admiring submission the experience of the lady who declared that the sense of being perfectly well dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquility which religion is powerless to bestow.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Okay, so I meant to do another video to chat with you about some of my thoughts on how dressing appropriately for the situation you find yourself in can really boost your confidence, but life happened this week, and my video didn’t (insert wistful-slash-frowny face here).  So I am just going to write a few suggestions that have helped me (I’ll keep it short and bullet-pointed; after all, it is a sunshiny Saturday afternoon and the beach is calling).

  • When shopping for pieces to build your wardrobe, consider your lifestyle and the types of situations you find yourself in most frequently.  If you’re the koala keeper at your local zoo, you may not need a closet full of cocktail dresses.  However, if you’re an event planner, that may be exactly what you need.  If you work from home, a collection of smart denim would be a great wardrobe base, but if you only get to wear jeans once a week, you probably don’t need 17 pairs.
  • It never hurts to call a friend and ask what they’re wearing to a particular event to get a feel for the level of formality that said event warrants.  However (and I’m begging you here), don’t use this tactic as a crutch, unable to get dressed until you hear from said friend.  When I’m out and about, nothing pleases me as much as seeing other people dressed in their own style.  If everyone had the same style, how boring this world would be!  Just make sure it’s your style, and not a complete lack of style.

Invest in a few quality pieces that can work for a variety of situations (check out posts on Rachael’s blazer for inspiration), and you’ll never (well, perhaps rarely) find yourself without something to wear again.

If you have any further tips on this topic, please share them!  I’d love to hear from you!

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The Dog Days of Summer


Sharpen up your weekend visit to the grocery store or your evening stroll by pairing a blazer with some shorts in a bright hue.


If your blazer has workable buttons and a fun lining, this is the time to tszuj it up by rolling up the sleeves and (if you’re really feeling adventurous) popping the collar.


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It’s a Date!


Make a blazer sexy by pairing it with a sheer lace top for date night.

Rachael bought this top during her visit, and I was so excited to put it on the blog that we forgot to remove the sales tag!  Oops!

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