Closet diving

I finally re-sorted my clothes over the weekend to optimize my closet for the spring. In digging through the storage bins I rediscovered some old pieces and it got me thinking about my current wardrobe. I’m still well-stocked, but ever since I started running, a large portion of my button-down shirts now fit a lot looser than before. My main work pants are too big at the waist and several of my dresses fit differently at this new size. I am happy about what I’ve achieved, but it does present a new challenge–what should I do with my now-ill fitting clothes?

Since I still love my current wardrobe but just have issues with fit, I’ve been attempting to save as many of them from the donation pile as much as possible. I also would prefer not to re-buy things like work pants (which I can find for under $40, but still)–the current pairs I own still have much wear to go; they just need to be taken in at the waist. I decided to pinpoint the clothing that needed alterations and visit my local seamstress to get her opinion.

On Saturday I brought the following top and pants to the seamstress. She chopped off the 3/4 sleeves into this length and took the waistband of the pants in.

Top: Lands End 3/4 sleeve breton top, chopped to short-sleeves
Pants: Target Mossimo ankle pants
Shoes: Cole Haan “Laurel” penny loafers

I had her cut the 3/4 sleeves up because I generally dislike 3/4 sleeved tops. I feel that the forearm-length of most of those tops restrict my movement. I actually wanted her to cut it to right above my elbow, but she ended up chopping it a little too short. I think it will still be usable in the summer as a relaxed-fit top even though I’m not entirely enthused about the sleeve length. That’s a learning experience right there–be more direct and specific when discussing lengths. I should have folded up the sleeve to exactly where I wanted it instead of gesturing vaguely at my arm.

The work pants were last year’s now-too-loose-pants taken in with a simple folding of the waistband at the sides. It’s not the most elegant or pretty fix, but I think it should do the job and allow me to save money instead of having to re-buy smaller pants. If the folds are comfortable enough for all day wear, I’ll get the other pair of pants taken in the same way and I should be good to go for work.

As soon as it gets a bit warmer I’ll be test-driving my “new” old clothes. I also brought a few more pieces in for tailoring so you might see those over the next few months as they re-incorporate into my wardrobe for the changing seasons. I’m excited to see how much I can save by altering or if I can even improve the fit so I want to wear my clothes more! What do you think? How do you determine if alterations are worth it on a particular piece of clothing? At what point would you decide to simply re-buy, donate, or start over again?

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14 thoughts on “Closet diving

  1. whew!

    a paragraph or two in i was yelling, “TAILOR!!!TAILOR!!!TAILORR!!!!” at the monitor, what a relief when i read to the end of your post! so many people just balk at the idea of tailoring/altering when, as in your case, you have clothes you really like with wear left in them that just are kinda big. It’s a wonderful way to say aggravation, time and money. Thank you for telling your tale here, i hope it inspires others to be brave!

    “I should have folded up the sleeve to exactly where I wanted it instead of gesturing vaguely at my arm.” That’s a good lesson. Your ideas about how you want to look may not line up with your tailors’. I wonder about taking your tee sleeves up to the fifth dark strip from the hem? But, heehee, that’s MY idea, not yours! πŸ˜‰

    Just discovered your blog recently, i’m really loving it and so happy to find more ladies on the minimal wardrobe uniform type idea!! Happy Day, steph

    1. Thank you for your comment, Steph, and I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Welcome!

      I’m really digging the idea of using what I currently have until it is no longer serviceable, and I feel like there’s still a couple less-used pieces that might benefit from some tailoring to make it work. I’m really excited about it and it’s also a nice way of combating the shopping urge. “Check your closet first.” Can I make it happen without buying a new thing? Let’s see how long it lasts!

  2. I would love to alter all my clothes when they don’t fit well anymore, but it’s just so expensive here it’s not worth it – my clothes aren’t expensive in general and taking something in could cost more than half of what the item cost to buy. I did get a pair of jeans hemmed when I was in Shanghai earlier this year though.

    1. It can be expensive to alter. I get my jeans hemmed for about $4…thankfully I don’t own any specialty jeans, so the price is really affordable.

      I agree with you though Jane–if the cost to alter will be more than half the item’s price, it won’t be worth it. For example, my work pants are $27.99 MSRP. My seamstress charged me $5 to take the waistband in. For right now that’s more worth it to me; we’ll see how the fit goes though.

      1. $4 is alright! I once got a simple dress hemmed here and it was $15 :\ it would be so good to learn how to do it myself, haha.

  3. Alterations are prohibitively expensive in the UK and if I think I can do it – I will give it a go. Simple coat sleeves and taking up jeans no longer phase me but anything else which regards proper fitting or awkward fabrics – I definitely leave to the experts. Even if I could go shopping in an actual Uniqlo store to purchase a pair of jeans, I would actually do my own shortening as I like to keep the original hems and I think I’ve got this down to a fine art now.

    It’s a shame about the Landsend top and the sleeve length. I actually bought one last year but the neck didn’t sit quite right on me which was the reason I sent it back. I personally love 3/4 length sleeves as to me, they give my arms enough coverage and I also have a little bit of skin to play with for arm candy or a watch.

    1. Eventually I’d like to learn hemming my own stuff πŸ™‚ Original hems are tough! Mind you my seamstress hasn’t done any crazy alterations where she had to cut the dress–it’s all been putting in seams and taking the dress in at the sides by folding at strategic places. It’s not the most elegant of fixes but it will do since I’ll be the only one looking at the inside of my clothes.

      3/4 sleeve length looks good on you, Sue! I feel so awkward in them–like my arms look shorter. Maybe because most of the 3/4 sleeved shirts I own are loose in the arm so they feel extra floppy.

  4. I agree about doing alterations, but they can be so expensive where I live. We are looking into getting a sewing machine and I want to learn to do them myself. I love Extra Petite’s tutorials for taking in clothes, especially for work.

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