Sunday, July 7, 2013


In preparation for my first week of work, I bought four completely new (non-consignment) pieces of clothing for my professional wardrobe: a cami, a pair of black heels, a drape jersey sweater, and a beige Anne Klein pantsuit.

I hate paying full price for clothes, for a few reasons: (1) it's very expensive to buy women's clothes and I'm thrifty (this is probably putting it politely), (2) there are plenty of clothes out there in circulation without me purchasing additional sweatshop-produced landfill-destined products, and (3) I second guess every piece of clothing I buy, wondering if it actually looks good on me or not, so buying on consignment at least allows me to feel less guilty if clothing ends up hiding in my closet.  I've always prided myself on my resistance to conspicuous consumption: I don't own many clothes, and I own about four pair of shoes.

Given this information, you can imagine me at the register, handing over my credit card to pay for a new pantsuit at Macy's.  Which, by the way, didn't fit exactly right.

Image: takomabibelot via Flickr
And which I brought to the tailor yesterday to get altered.

Alterations scare me even more than buying clothes.  Because when you're buying clothes, you can always return them.  You have a grace period.  You can just refrain from removing the tags, and you're safe.  But alternations?  That is commitment.  No more second chances.  No more changing your mind.  You and this pantsuit?  Are practically married.

The tailor, who is a little old Korean lady at the dry cleaners who doesn't speak very much English, tugged at my waist.  "OK?" she asked.

"A little less," I suggested, sucking in my gut for a minute before letting it out again, knowing that having a little extra room would probably be a good idea.  Just in case.  My son looked up from the revolving chair at the sewing table, where he sat patiently reading his book, waiting for me.  He raised his eyebrows.  Wiseass, I thought.

She pinned.  "And hem?" she asked.

"Yes," I said, looking down at my pants legs dragging on the floor.  "Please."

She held up the hem.  "I don't know how high shoes," she commented, shaking her head.  Of course I wasn't wearing high heels at the time; sneakers have been a safer choice for me since I sprained my ankle, and I am still feeling a little gun-shy.

"I don't know how high they are, either," I admitted, not telling her that I don't even know what shoes I could wear with this suit.

"Here?" she said.  No, a little more.  "Here?"  She was beginning to lose her patience with me.

"Maybe this isn't right after all," I said, frowning, beginning to worry that maybe I should just return this suit and skip the stress and cost of alterations altogether.  I pulled at the waist, where the pants bunched a little from the crotch.  "But the jacket could cover it up?"

"Here," she said, no longer asking, pinning the hem decisively.  She shrugged, sizing me up.  "Is OK."  In other words: get over yourself and get down off my box so I can start working on these.  She handed me a slip.  "Next Thursday pick up, OK?  OK."

I felt a little bit like I'd been bullied, but I guess I deserved it.  She was completely confident about her work.  She wasn't being paid to offer me an opinion about my clothes selection; she was being paid to tuck and hem.  And she wasn't even being paid yet.  I, on the other hand, was being completely wishy-washy.  At the tailor.

The thing is, when you bring something for alterations, you have to commit.  No looking back.  You'll have to live with it.  And if you need a new pair of pants in the end after all, maybe it's not the end of the world.

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  1. It will be fine! The clothes...and the job. I'm excited for this new chapter for you.

  2. Congratulations on the new job and the wardrobe update! Although alterations is a scary "commitment," good for you for actually getting them - now your clothes will fit properly! Mark of a stylish lady ;-)

  3. I'm glad you bought a new suit, and extra glad that you had it tailored. If you were a man, the store would have offered to tailor the suit as a matter of course. It might even have been included in the purchase price.

    And if you have a good tailor you can take consignment suits to her, too. (Bring your work shoes.) If you find a suit on consignment and you like the color and feel of the fabric but it's too big in every direction, a good tailor can tailor it into a suit that seems like it was made for you. I had to do that once for a bridesmaid's dress. The dress that was ordered for me was a good six sizes too big. I took it to the tailor and a week later I had a dress that fit so nicely I almost forgave it for being polyester.

    Happy first day of your new job!

  4. I'm so with you on clothes. I like clothes but I DON'T like to spend a lot. As such, my work wardrobe has suffered big time. So for this last interview I had to go buy a suit since the last one I owned was now 2 sizes too big. It's cute, but doesn't fit PERFECT and thus it was hard to hand over $150 (on sale) to buy it. But, I got the job too, and I start August 12th. Congratulations! And I'll be with you on the nervousness, but I'm so excited, for you and for me!

  5. Hard not to feel wishy-washy with all the change that is ahead.

    The thing with clothes, though, is that you DON'T have to marry them. Really!

    Clothes, like hair, like new jobs, can be transient. Lose weight, gain weight, realize you're deeply unhappy, decide to change things up - there's nothing permanent about it.

    You are going to be great, you know.

    And I'm with Jennifer - having a good tailor is amazing. I love mine (and I need to go see her about a pantsuit soon).


  6. Sometimes it seems like the world SHOULD occasionally bend to fit you, right? Seriously, there are so few things over which we really have control. I think feeling comfortable in your own clothes is a reasonable exercise of your authority.

    I can't wait to hear how your first days go.

  7. I once had my jeans altered too much and now I wear them cuffed up like Capris. I got a second pair and had them altered to the right height. I was able to "live with the mistake" however, you're right, once you alter, there is no turning back! It's one of those few things in life you really can't undo!

  8. HI! I'm back. Congratulations on the new job! What an exciting new season in your life.
    I am like you with the clothing. I don't have much and I love to buy second hand or get hand me downs from family. I too have 4 pairs of shoes. When you get your suit back and put the whole shabang together you will love it. Good luck with your first day.


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