“Ready to wear” is not always ready to wear.

Woman giving measurements

Today’s fashion is usually sold by a number-based sizing system, or by the even vaguer “small”, “medium”, “large” scale. But in reality, there are thousands of types of body shapes, much more than any clothing company can account for. As a result, many women are stuck with clothes that are an approximate fit, but not exactly the best fit. These difficulties can multiply the more you vary from the most typical, average body type imaginable: if you have wide hips, a short torso, or long arms, or basically any body feature that differs from the norm, there’s a good chance your off-the-rack clothing will not fit you correctly. The problems only increase as you get older, with your choices tending to be limited to brands made for older body types (that can unfortunately also feature older, unfashionable styles, as well).

The solution? Tailoring. Tailoring is the process of making adjustments, big or small, to a piece of clothing in order to give the clothing the best fit. The best way of thinking about it is that by buying a regular dress at a department store, you are buying a template, and your tailor is the artist that really makes the piece of clothing yours. These tweaks can be anything from shortening or lengthening hemlines, adding darts to oversized sweaters, moving breast buttons to a more comfortable place on the fabric, or taking fabric away from an oversized waist. Sometimes, tailoring can include making a piece of clothing more functional, by taking away unnecessary layers of fabric if the customer doesn’t prefer a lining, or by adding hoods and extra wool to cold-weather clothing that needs an extra layer of warmth.

Woman tailoring clothes

Tailoring can mean a whole new wardrobe for women who feel like they never have the right fit. But, of course, sometimes the price tag can turn some people away from it, or cause them to view tailoring as an unnecessary luxury. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of clothing has fallen substantially since the 1980s (the last heydays of tailoring) due to the outsourcing of labor for clothing in the United States. Because the price of clothes has lowered substantially and “fast fashion”, like fast food, is gradually replacing luxury clothing, tailoring now seems like an unnecessary or exorbitant practice: spending $40 to tailor a $20 dress can seem ridiculous. And while that line of thought does seem to have some merit, you could also think about it like this: would you rather spend $20 on a dress that is unflattering but bargain priced, or $60 on a dress that is perfectly fitted to your own unique body shape? Like we mentioned earlier: for body types that are hard to fit, buying clothing is buying an unfinished canvas, and your tailor can be the artist who masterfully finishes it for you.

According to Emily VanCamp, Canadian actress and a  frequent stunner at awards ceremonies, once remarked, “Tailoring makes all the difference”. For old-school glamor and personal beauty, we couldn’t agree more.