At 156cm or 5’1″ I can say from experience the length of pants and skirts must be made for the shortest height of 5’3″ or 5’4″. Clothes are always that 2-3 inches to long. The difference between an awkward ankle length or that nice just above the ankle length. As a result, almost every item of clothing I buy that’s designed for the mid length needs taking up.
I did sewing at school but I’m no seamstress.
My latest purchase was a Mes Demoiselles skirt. A lovely but somewhat expensive skirt. Mes Demoiselles is a Parisian brand which I had never bought prior to this purchase so I have no idea if the prices are inflated because it’s considered an up market brand or if it’s because we are selling it in Australia, all the way from Paris. I bought the skirt because I liked it.
Picture from Instagram
In true fashion yep, of course it was too long. I ummed and ahhhhed as to whether I could wear it as a maxi skirt, hitch up the waist and turn it over or how could I shorten it.
I like the four frills. I think it’s the fourth frill that balances the skirt. So removing a frill isn’t something I wanted to do. Taking the skirt up from the top of the first frill could mean the frills would sit to high up near the hips. We all know a frill around the hips would not be flattering, at all!
These days due to the price of getting clothing adjusted I try to do my own alterations where possible. If I think I can take up the length of a skirt or pair of pants I do. I’m to scared to cut anything though. That could mean disaster if I cut it incorrectly! A pair of pants or hem can range from 50 to 80 AUdollars. That adds up, especially when nearly every purchase I buy needs adjusting.
I think to myself what if the pants or dress only cost $50 to buy. Does the seamstress know brands and do they tack an extra 100% onto the price for their services if it’s a designer brand. It can feel that way. I always cut the price tag off for this reason before taking it to the seamstress, but I guess they can read brand tags.
I’ve shopped around at three or four different places and they all seem to charge the same prices. I feel trapped. It’s either pay up or I can’t wear things I like. It’s frustrating because I feel it takes them fifteen minutes and they get paid triple probably me and I have people’s lives in my hands at work. It it seems everyone gets paid better than a nurse these days and I’ve learnt for my own happiness not to dwell on that.
I try to understand they have leases to pay for the premises and staff and all the government regulations that go with that to pay and abide by. That in Australia, we have minimal wage legislation and that’s a good thing, and these seamstress’ have a talent I don’t.
So last Saturday, I took my nice skirt to my seamstress Simone to have it taken up. I told her I didn’t want the fourth frill removed if possible. It’s tricky because they never want to give you an upfront price. It’s all about, the detail involved in the job. So you are literally at their mercy.
Simone is great and in the past I have been happy with her work. She seems to know what she’s doing and she came up with the perfect way to adjust my skirt without losing the shape or balance of the design, or that fourth frill!
She puts the details into her register and says in her Asian accent, ‘one hundred thirty-five dolla please’. Well my mouth nearly dropped to the floor but I kept my polka face and said politely, ‘ gosh that’s a lot for a skirt to be taken up’. I was expecting 80-90 AUdollars but definitely not $135.
The thought flickered through my mind. Do I say don’t worry and get a quote elsewhere. What if other places say the same. I know Simone and I know she’s good, what if they charge less but do a lesser job. Do I swallow my pride and politely say no thank you and walk out the door to pay a similar price down the road, should I try to do it myself?
Simone is happy to tell me, ‘I’m good seamstress’. I politely ask her where she learnt to sew. Did she learn through trial and error or via her mum growing up I’m wondering. She told me she did a sewing course in China. She proudly went onto say that she ‘can sew a dress and design what customer want. I need no pattern’. Handy to know I think to myself as I file that into my memory.
Reluctantly I hand over my money. This expensive skirt just became a much more expensive skirt! That I wasn’t expecting. I ask myself, how much do I really love this skirt, do I love it as much as it’s cost me? Am I crazy for paying this price? Do other people pay this much for alterations or am I the only fool? I try to gain some comfort in knowing Simone is a ‘trained’ seamstress and I’m paying for her expertise.
For all I know, this brand in Paris could be a mainstream low-cost brand and has had the price inflated by the importer and retail store in Australia. And now I’m another $135 out-of-pocket! . But I buy because I like. That’s what matters the most to me. So I make the decision to accept my reality that this skirt is now 34.6% percent dearer than my original spend 🤦🏻♀️.
I went back and picked my skirt up a couple of days later from Simone. I haven’t had an opportunity to wear it yet, but I couldn’t tell it had been adjusted, it looked like the original design. Sometimes if you shorten a flare pant it loses the balance of the flare and therefore loses its original pizzazz. Simone has done a great job, but by Lordy lord it cost a lot. That stung the price of getting my skirt taken up, but I know I’m never getting taller and that’s one of the disadvantages of being shorter. You have to be prepared to pay that bit more for your garment. When trying it on it’s the buying price + the alterations price.
We shorter people use less fabric but pay more. If only I was 2-3 inches taller. It’s not only the cost it’s the inconvenience of dropping it off to the seamstress and going back to pick it up. Never being able to just buy and wear. That would be heaven.
How fabulous would it be if clothing sizes weren’t just about circumference but also height. Bras sell in circumference and cup size 10C or 14C. Size 10 being your circumference and size C the volume of breast to fill the cup. That’s sounds rather humorous to be written like that. Who placed a breast in a cup! But females will get the drift.
I’d love skirts and pants that was standard sizing as P for petite, R for regular and T for tall. How amazing if clothing was sold as size 8P, or 8T. Some stores sell petite but for this to be standardised across the fashion industry that would be amazing.
Until then, and I’m not holding my breath, I shall continue to hand my dollars over to Simone. Currently the Australian retail industry is struggling. Retail sales are on the decline due to increasing living costs and various economic reasons. Believe me I am supporting the Australian economy. Ted was watching the news last night and we were laughing about how lucky the Australian retail has me and how I’m keeping the economy afloat. Keep spending Lucy! Australia depends on you!
Love Lucy x