Tit for Tat: Tailoring Tradeoffs for Large Breasted Women

As the song goes, “Once you have found him, never let him go.” I’m talking about your perfect tailor.  I’ve been searching for him/her in New York City since December 2008.  In fact, looking through my past posts on the subject, I realized I can devote a separate page on this blog just to the tailoring/custom-made options available to us.  Look for it soon.

Last night I finally visited Ros Tailoring to redeem the Plum District coupon I purchased in December.  Our eyes didn’t meet across a crowded room (okay, no more “Some Enchanted Evening” references) because the weather was so miserable that I was the only customer.  It was great.  I was able to drop off my Carissa Rose Justina shirt and ask questions to my heart’s content.

My biggest question had to do with reader Karen, who shared with us in the comments on Tuesday that she wears a size 28K bra.  I asked the tailor what would be cheaper for her:  custom-made clothing or  breast reduction surgery?  He didn’t miss a beat with his answer:  surgery.  He didn’t feel she would be able to find anything off the rack.

I don’t like his answer at all, but at his prices, I can see why he gave it.  A custom jacket from him costs $2000; a custom suit $2500; and a custom shirt $300, with a four shirt minimum.  Simply altering my Justina shirt cost $100.  I know that there are less expensive custom and made-to-measure options out there, even if it means a trip to Vietnam.

However, my conversation with the tailor reinforced what we already know:  finding clothes that fit us can be costly and/or time-consuming.  We have to choose our battles.  Sometimes “good enough” is fine.  But other times there’s that gorgeous dress or jacket that just needs to be tweaked, and it would be perfect.  Should we buy it and have it altered?

According to the tailor, it’s worth altering a high quality piece of clothing that you find on sale for 30 cents to the dollar.  For instance, someone can bring a Dolce & Gabbana suit to him from an end-of-season sale, and he will re-cut it for them to wear.  On the other hand, a customer recently brought a suit to him that “looked cheap”.  For the price of altering it, he told the customer that he could buy a much better suit that would fit from the beginning.

I think the 30 cents to the dollar rule is a good frame of reference, but other variables figure into my decision-making:

  1. Even if it’s cheaply made, do I love it so much that I will get tons of wear out of it before it falls apart?
  2. What do I have to give up from my clothing budget in order to afford the alterations–more versatile accessories? a more practical pair of pants?
  3. How likely am I to take it to the tailor to begin with?  Will it just sit for months in a bag by the front door?
  4. How much confidence do I have that the tailor can make a difference?

I’m curious to hear how you decide to get something altered.

I once read that a large-breasted woman should just swallow her pride, shop in the plus department, and have everything altered.  I asked the tailor about this last night because I have a feeling that means a lot of changes.  (Could you imagine how complicated it would be for Karen to get a 1X to fit her frame?)  His answer:  “Anything can be altered to fit.  It just depends how much you want to spend on it.”

Comments

  1. I tried shopping at a plus store once because I heard they were now carrying petite sizes. Well, only in pants. I was told that it didn't matter for shirts because I could just wear a short sleeve shirt, and for shorts and skirts, they would just be longer on me. They had no clue that a petite size has different proportions overall. So, for some of us, shopping plus size is not the greatest option. But yes, sometimes it can work out to buy a larger size, esp. in simple clothes/dresses. If you have to take a collar off, take out the sleeves, etc, you're better off to just start from scratch and learn to sew to fit, or find a reasonably priced seamstress–try a home based business instead of a store front. Or a local school of fashion or sewing school can be another great option. Learning to sew yourself can seem intimidating, but it's one step at a time…and so rewarding!

  2. Darlene C. says:

    I was hoping you would comment, TracyKM, because I was thinking about you today and wishing I could make alterations or sew for myself. I'm just so impatient when it comes to cutting. And certain alterations–like a jacket–seem very advanced. Do you want to be our resident how-to person? I'd love if you would write occasional posts about how to make simple changes, like examples of what you suggested on DBusted for summer dresses.