Adventures in Alterations: Linen Vest Overhaul

Linen Vest 1Banana Republic Linen Vest, size 0 (altered) :: Banana Republic Button Down, size 00P :: Paige Laurel Canyon Jeans, size 24 (altered) :: Ann Taylor Perfect Patent Skinny belt, size xs :: Timex watch :: Cole Haan shoes, size 5

 I wore this to the mall the other day and loved it so much that I thought I’d do a little “Outfit of the Day” post for it. I usually don’t like to just post outfits for the sake of posting outfits. I like there to be a larger point to the post than just, “look at how cute I was today!”, but I got a few requests to get a better look at the vest from my last post, so I took some photos.

Then, I came across a photo of the un-altered vest on my little petite dress form that I completely forgot I tweeted when I first bought it. Since the dress form is pretty close to my actual measurements (it’s longer waisted than I am, but still pretty similar), I realized I might be able to put together an “Adventures in Alterations” post on this little guy after all! So, here we go!

Before alterations:

Linen Vest Before Alterations

*For reference – Dress form measurements: 30″ bust, 22″ waist, 31″ hip   My measurements: 30″ bust, 23″ waist, 32″ hip

As I wrote in my first post about this little vest…I was OBSESSED! It didn’t come in petite sizes, and I knew if I picked it up, it would be doosey to alter. So when I was able to score a regular size 0 for a mere $2 thanks to great sales and Rewards Cards, I decided I loved it enough to pay for the alterations it was going to need.

As you can see, the regular size 0 was pretty big right off the rack. Here’s what it needed:

Linen Vest Before Alterations

1. Regular sizes are longer than petite sizes, so the shoulder, bust placement, arm hole and waist placement are all either too long or too low. Taking up the vest at the shoulder will bring all these things higher. However, taking up the shoulder means the fabric along the back of the neck needs to be re-cut.

2. The width is too wide and needs to be slimmed. Slimming the sides will also help to narrow the arm hole.

After alterations:

Linen Vest After AlterationsCost of alterations: $60

What a difference, hmm?

Before Alterations After Alterations

Before vs. After Alterations

Getting it slimmed was pretty obvious, but most petite women don’t realize the difference taking a garment up at the shoulder can make! We’re short…so our clothes have to be too. Taking the vest up at the shoulder made the arm holes nice and high, put the bust in the right place, and made the vest end at a much more flattering length.

And, now for some gratuitous outfit shots:

Linen Vest 2

Linen Vest Back

Linen Vest Close Up

Moral of the story…if you really, really love something, don’t be limited by the fit right off the rack. Make sure the quality is worth it, that it’s truly your personal style, and search out the best deal you think you can get. There’s nothing wrong with paying a little bit of money to get the perfect fit on a garment you really love.

Join the Conversation


  1. Wow what a difference, if I saw that best on the mannequin bust like that I would pass, it looks to masculine.  But the alterations make it look like menswear for ladies done right!  I can see why so many clothes are pinned at stores ;)

  2. says: Amber

    that is such an amazing difference. i love seeing outfit pics for no reason, post them as often as you’d like! its always fun to get inspired from somebody’s look. i was sooo close to picking up a vest after your last vest post, i just couldnt pull the trigger. maybe after i see a few more vest pics? :)

    1. My very first vest was literally bought because of a cover photo from Lucky Magazine. I bought the exact same vest, and it took me a few seasons of it sitting in my closet before I really got comfortable wearing it. In fact, I just had it taken in slightly at the bust at the same time as this vest overhaul. They can be tricky, so if you’re not really feeling it, don’t do it. I absolutely loved the look, and even though stylistically I wasn’t ready for it, I eventually grew into it. :)

  3. This outfit is fabulous – casual but chic. The vest is amazing – it really is fantastic what tailors can do. I always notice you wearing button-downs, do you have any recommendations on where to buy them. This petite’s had no luck so far. Thanks!

    1. Ugh. Button downs are tricky. H&M has some stretchy ones that will fit if you’re long waisted, but on me, they bunch up like crazy at the shoulder (because the waist of the shirt shimmies up to sit on my natural waist). My LOFT one was altered, but I really loved the shoulder detail, so I felt it was worth it (and it was! I wear that thing all the time). The BR button back blouse I’m wearing here is unaltered, but the pleating at the back gets poofy. I’m thinking about taping the pleats down with fashion tape if I wear it alone. Thomas Pink fits really slim, but again, only good if you’re long waisted (I get the shoulder bunch).

      Honestly, my take on button downs is: if you want a nice button down, choose your color and detail options, and find one that 1) is a nice fabric 2) fits in the shoulder 3) won’t need extensive sleeve alterations. If you can find a shirt that meets those criteria, but it’s a little wide, just have a tailor take it in. If you get shoulder bunch on a button down, you can’t alter that easily, even if it fits at the waist. It’s better to have it fit wide and get it tailored down to your size.

  4. says: R.L.

    Love it, it’s so you!  I’m curious, is there anyway to style this vest unbuttoned and still look chic?  I almost bought an H&M vest after seeing your last vest post and Elle’s but refrained because I couldn’t think of way to successfully pull it off unbuttoned unless the vest was oversized.

    1. Hehe…I know exactly which vest you’re talking about. :)

      I like dressing a little stuffy, so buttoned up is just my style. I’ve tried wearing vests open and they tend to just flop around which kind of bugs me, but I did once successfully keep the vest in place with fashion tape. My favorite photo of all time of a vest worn open in the whole reason I started my vest obsession in the first place (I’ve linked it to this comment).  This just reminds me to give it another try. ;)

  5. says: Maddy

    Cute vest. I bought one a while back, but can never find anything to match… It always end up looking weird on me. >_< Anyway, love love love the jeans!

  6. says: Canadianpetite

    What a difference, Kelly! You do menswear-for-ladies so well. My daughter has a similar button-back too (Children’s Place) from last fall and loves wearing it. 

  7. says: AUBS*

    huge vest fan myself.  both of mine are on the darker side.  This lighter color vest is great for casual looks as well as more formal/professional looks.

  8. says: StarryA

    It looks so much better after the alterations! Being fairly small myself (5’3″) I often have this sort of problem (the waist on garments being too low and the length too long.). Thanks for a simple solution :).

    See my own clothes alterations at .

    I’m only just starting out so tips are welcome.

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