Guest blog: If the Dress Fits

If the Dress Fits
originally published on Tag Sale Tales.

My friend Sabrina is gifted in a lot of ways. Not only is she generous, photogenic, funny, musical, and kind… she is also a small person. She can wear whatever she wants! Whenever I have friends come over for a clothing photo shoot, I inevitably end up with a huge pile of clothing to reserve in case Sabrina comes by. Sometimes it seems like she is the only person on the planet who can wear half the vintage pieces that I pick up, because she is the only one who will fit in them!

I collect clothing almost compulsively, and it is quite clear that clothing is not manufactured for real body shapes on either end of the spectrum. Sabrina herself has told me that she can’t find things in retail stores that fit her, sometimes. And at 5’10” with a generous waist-line, I am also a far cry from a normal size on the clothing rack. Please note that I am not putting myself down for this fact, because I love being tall and I’m working (successfully) on the waist-line, but I often find that I do not fit in to 99% of the really great clothes I find at thrift stores– and no amount of tailoring or alteration would change that fact.

So, what’s a girl to do? I thought I would list a few of my own sizing solutions, and ask for input on what other people do to alter thrifted clothing so that it works with their own wardrobes.

    • First I look for clothing that can be let out. Look for inside seams with extra or doubled-up fabric.
    • Next I look for clothing that is too big, but will be easy to take in to fit my measurements. Sometimes this means shopping in Menswear, sometimes it means shopping in Plus Size or Maternity even if I feel like I am smaller than that. Don’t even look at the numbers on clothing tags at a secondhand shop. Try everything on.
    • Next I look for fabric that makes me happy. When I was in high school I would ask my mom to sew me clothes from the fabric that I would buy. Now I have the ability to do this for myself, and it makes me feel like I have options.
    • Sometimes I have to admit my weaknesses. I don’t think that I will ever find jeans that fit me at a secondhand shop, and I am resigned to avoiding the rows and rows of trouser hangers. This saves me a little bit of my self worth every time, and I instead invest my time wisely and target the sections where I know I’m bound for a good hit!
    • Bulk up! Given the gamble of the resale market, sometimes I like buying in bulk and for cheap and then sorting through it later with a friend. In other words, if I *really* love a fabric or the shape of a garment, I just buy it anyway and figure out what to do with it later.
    • Like we do with birthday cake: we can just take a small slice. Sometimes there is a detail on a dress, or a print on a skirt that I feel drawn toward. There is no one who can stop me from detaching said row of buttons, or patch of 60s flowers, and reattaching them onto something else–a handbag, a t-shirt, even the cuff of a sock! Once you start looking at a piece of clothing as a composite of details, you start to think outside the limitations of that garment.
    • Think bags and shoes: last resorts can be just desserts! Great accessories can do a lot to satisfy the soul.
    • Remember, great clothing is meant to be shared. Seeing that little yellow polka dot dress on my sister might be a lot better than leaving it behind or selling it to a stranger at a garage sale!

back of dress zipper 1
Like I said, I’m working on the waistline and I’ll have a better go at the thrift stores again in no time.

Meanwhile, your comments are welcome.

Happy Hunting (sewing, ripping, throwing out, hiding in the back of your closet for “someday”, and generally drooling wistfully over it all)!

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