Making A Wardrobe Work For You

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making your wardrobe work for you by wardrobe oxygen tips on how to adjust a wardrobe to fit your body and personal styleEmerson tugs on me. She tugs on my shirttails, the hems of my skirts, my crossbody bags. “Emerson, tug on my hand, not my clothes,” I tell her. “If you tug too hard you may break it.” And sure enough, recently she took a tug on my Rebecca Minkoff Mini M.A.C. and the leather loop that holds the strap pulled completely off, with it tearing off part of the leather exterior.

rebecca minkoff mini mac leopard calfhair via wardrobe oxygenI went to eBay looking for a replacement as my leopard calfhair version is no longer available. I went to Rebecca Minkoff’s site to see if there was a new bag that would be a worthy alternative. Many gorgeous ones, but none that were a worthy alternative. Then I thought… why the heck am I looking to plop another $200 or more on a new bag when this one may be able to be repaired? So I took my bag to my cobbler… and for $15 he fixed the bag so well one wouldn’t be able to tell unless they were looking for the mend.

how to hem a chiffon maxi dressAt 5’3”, many of the clothes I admire in stores are just too long for me. Add to the fact that I’m overweight and need a larger size, hemlines are often dragging several inches on the floor. I recently purchased this dress from Charlie Jade and fell in love with the boho cut and print (stay tuned for an outfit post!), but didn’t love the fact that in my highest heels there was still a ton of fabric pooling on the ground. Inspired by my “DUH” moment with my purse, I decided to mend the hem issue. I went to YouTube and searched “how to hem a chiffon dress” and found this video. I have a sewing machine, though it only gets used a couple times a year. Hey, this video makes it feel really doable! So one morning I woke up at 5am, literally dusted off my sewing machine, grabbed a pair of scissors and my iron and two hours later I was walking out the door in a 5’3” appropriate chiffon maxi dress.

Last weekend, the zipper in my Gap Real Straight jeans died on me. This happened to a pair a year ago, two days after getting them and I took them to the store for an exchange. I went to the website, they no longer had the color and size I own and love. The jeans are now in my car, ready to head to the dry cleaners with my next load of Karl’s shirts and my blouses to get a new zipper.

When you’re overweight, 16” necklaces don’t really cut it. Well they actually do cut it… cut into your neck and look as though your head has been cut off. But such necklaces are the trend, and even though I tell brands I need at least an 18” chain, I have received more than one beautiful, delicate, too-short necklace. Well I picked up this necklace extender for $8 and now I can wear all the trendy delicate chains without them cutting off my circulation.

When you’re not a standard height, weight, or shape shopping can prove extremely frustrating. When you’re not handy or crafty, a snag or too-long hem can be the straw that breaks your sartorial back. It’s easy to get frustrated, or throw money at it, but often there is a solution out there. Yes, we women are snowflakes – no two of us are alike. However, many of us deal with the same issues when it comes to our bodies and desire to dress them in a stylish manner.

One thing you’ll see again and again when it comes to the closets of stylish women is pieces they have kept for years. They don’t buy new things each season, yet it seems they are able to keep their pieces in great wearable condition for decades. It’s not because they are perfectly pristine people who never sweat, trip, or spill. They don’t find those perfect items right off the rack to fit their body like a glove. There’s work behind the scenes to make clothing work for them, and work for a long period of time. As a fashion blogger, it’s easy for me to buy a new item when something in my wardrobe isn’t quite right. Heck, it’s often a good investment if it looks good in an outfit post and many of you click to buy. Re-wearing the same pieces and accessories don’t benefit me financially, but it does benefit my personal style. Having pieces I love, that I know as well as the back of my hand, that aren’t almost right but actually right, that don’t require any MacGyver tricks to work (been there, done that) not only improves my style but my body image and confidence.

The seasons are changing, and even if it’s still 90 degrees where you are, our thoughts are on scarves, sweaters, boots, and newness in our closets. But before you go out and buy a bunch of fresh clothes and accessories, consider your current closet and how you can refresh it. Your dry cleaner can shorten sleeves and hems, companies like AlterKnit New York can reweave sweaters to look like new or replace linings in suit jackets, bridal salons and quality department stores have skilled seamstresses on staff who will often work on pieces not bought in their store. There’s gadgets out there to make style work for you, and likely with a YouTube video or two you can find you have more crafty genes in your body than you realized. Before you drop coin, reconsider your current wardrobe and see if there’s any hidden gems just waiting to take your personal style to the next level.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Brilliant post and so true! When I get a house with a bit of space, I think I’m going to invest in a cheap sewing machine to hem dresses. Trousers are a trickier so I might still take them to the professionals. I need to get around to taking my blush pink jacket to be dry-cleaned and my trousers to be nipped in at the waist. I also need to keep hand-washing my scarves. I find that sitting in the cupboard they get a bit whiffy.

  2. Oh my gosh, I wish I knew about AlterKnit a year ago! I had a lovely wool sweater that got a tiny hole… right in the center of one of the boobs when worn. I always prefer to fix things rather than toss them, but there seemed to be no way to fix this without making it even more noticeable, and so sadly it got tossed 🙁 Looks like it would have been an easy fix with AlterKnit if only I had known!

  3. I read an article from Garance Dore a few months back talking about preparing for Cannes and using a stylist – and one of the first things the stylist said was “don’t worry if none of these fit well to start, we’ll get everything tailored anyway” Proof that even if you have an amazing body, sometimes clothes need a little help to fit correctly 🙂

  4. I am 5′ 2″ and I take pendants to the jewelry repair to be shortened. Otherwise they get lost between the girls, lol. It’s always been under $10!

  5. I’m jealous of your cobbler. 🙂 I’m fairly confident on fixing my hems on sleeves and pant legs, and I’ve gleefully picked off random chest pockets that I don’t like. I turned a straight scarf into an “infinity” scarf. I do have a college-logo polo shirt that I need to reset the sleeves (the shoulder seam is well off my shoulder), and I’ve been intimidated by that for, yikes, 8 years now? I think I need to make a serious effort soon.

  6. I had no idea there was such a thing as a necklace extender until a few years ago when I bought a necklace at Nordstrom, got it home, and there it was! (I think it was an oops that it was on there.) What a game changer! That little thing is a workhorse. I often look at catalogs where models are wearing 16″ necklaces and they fit them like a 20″ on me – I always wonder if there is an extender back there. I know few adult women that a 16″ chain doesn’t strangle and always figured pre-teens were the only ones who could wear that length in real life. Thanks for bringing this up, I always felt like a freak.

  7. Bravo!

    Replacing a zipper is a job for the pros as are some hems.
    There is a lot to be said for knowing how to do your own repairs and alterations.

    It’s also worthwhile to do your own jewelry repairs, particularly on costume jewelry that isn’t really worth an expensive fix. You can do a lot with plyers and small findings from the craft store.

  8. Thank you for the tip about AlterKnit. There is a reweaver in my neighborhood but they don’t do reknitting. I was afraid I might have to toss a favorite sweater dress that was lunch for a moth.

  9. Necklace extenders are definitely on my Wish I Knew About Earlier list. I’m tall, and a necklace extender helps necklaces fall at the right place.

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