Friday, January 25, 2013

Elevate 101: 3 Simple Steps to Upgrade Your Existing Wardrobe

As part of my "Elevate 101" series, today I'm going to give you a few simple tips to help spruce up the pieces already in your wardrobe. Hopefully these basic steps will bring some of the classic, timeless pieces you already own up to a new level.

Step 1: Find a good dry cleaner
Step 2: Find a good tailor/seamstress
Step 3: Find a good cobbler

I know that dry cleaning, tailoring and shoe repair can all be quite costly, especially if you have a lot of it. However, you don't have to send pieces to them on a weekly or even monthly basis if that's not suitable to your lifestyle.

As for dry cleaners, even if you're the type to use the Dryel sheets or even worse, just a dryer sheet in with your dry-clean-only garments, you never know when you're going to need the services of a true cleaning professional. I've always been fortunate enough to have truly excellent dry cleaners within 30 minutes drive of any place I've ever lived. It's not often that I use them, but when I do, it's great to know that my clothes are in good hands. I believe in finding a well-established dry cleaner with a solid reputation and a strong background in textiles. It's not just about removing spots, it's knowing how different fabrics respond to different chemicals or even water and steam. A good dry cleaner will know the best way to clean your clothes that also maintains them for true longevity. A good dry cleaner will not only be able to remove tricky spots from even trickier fabrics, they will also be able to complete small repairs and sometimes even offer tailoring or alterations services within their premises. Which brings me to #2:

A good tailor or seamstress is truly invaluable. Believe it or not, it's the simplest garments in your closet that will need the most tailoring. A suit that doesn't fit properly will not do you any favors in the job interview or the board meeting. Conversely, a well- tailored LBD (Little Black Dress) can be taken from average to astounding purely due to the nips of tucks of a skilled seamstress or tailor. Do you ever pass over garments in your closet because you think "these pants are just a little too loose in the waist," or "the sleeves on the jacket fall too far down on my wrist," or maybe "this skirt would be so much more flattering if it were two inches shorter." We all do, or worse yet, we don't pass on those pieces and we wear them despite the fact that they are slightly ill-fitting and therefore not nearly as flattering as they could be. Do yourself a favor and have all of those pieces tailored. It may be a bit of an investment, so do it seasonally to cut down on the cost a bit. Make sure the pieces in your closet truly fit your body in the most flattering way and you'll get a LOT more wear out of all of them.

I know the standard objection to tailoring (aside from cost) is that your weight is going to change. Either you plan to lose weight, so you figure why not wait until you hit your goal? Or you are afraid that once you have all those pants and skirts and dresses taken in, if you gain a few pounds, they won't fit at all. I think that both of these reasons are utter bologna. First, in regards to losing weight, that is a gradual process and before it's time for all new clothes that are three sizes smaller than your current wardrobe, tailoring will keep your current pieces from looking too tent-like on your shrinking body. Also, hem length is a simple adjustment to pants, skirts and dresses and has nothing to do with your weight loss. And as for gaining weight, I think that well-tailored pieces are a good gauge for keeping on track where fitness and healthy eating are concerned. We all binge a little around the holidays or birthdays, so when those pants start to feel a little uncomfortably snug, it's time to make some lifestyle adjustments to get back on track and feeling great in your clothes.

Ok, moving on to #3- a good cobbler. This is definitely a dying art, so it can be tricky to find them at all, but when you do, it's likely they've been in business for decades and really know what they're doing. A cobbler will repair your shoes, handbags, belts and all sort of other things. Repairs to shoes often include re-soling, repairing closures, elastics, buckles, etc, shining, replacing laces, grommets, replacing heel caps, fixing broken straps, and countless other repairs and enhancements. If you have any kind of foot issue, a good cobbler can help keep your shoes functioning the best for you. They are also great at repairing handbags, and sprucing up any of your leather goods. Since most offer dye services as well, you can even have fabric shoes touched up if they fade or scuff.

If you're with me in regards to "elevating" your wardrobe, you'll be purchasing higher quality investment pieces that you plan to have for a long time. A good dry cleaner, tailor and cobbler will all be essential to keeping those investment pieces looking and feeling top notch.

Do you already have garment and accessory care professionals that you use? How often do you go to them? Do you find it's worthwhile to go? Leave a comment!

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