I love this shot of a model/actress (Anne Hathaway?) getting clamped into a dress for what I’m guessing is a photoshoot (source)
I’ve linked to this blog post a few times now, but I haven’t given it a proper look on Alterations Needed until now. I really, really like the point it makes, and it’s made a big enough impression on me that it pops into my mind every now and then. I wish Clinton Kelly (and Stacy London, and anyone else in a similar line of work for that matter) would be more vocal about this kind of stuff. Nobody teaches us these things, and the detriment of not knowing sends so many of us (women mostly) into shame spirals in fitting rooms and anger at an arbitrary number on a pair of jeans.
Here’s my favorite points from the post about clothing, fit, and why celebrities and people on TV look better in clothes than you do. Since there are no direct quotes from Clinton Kelly himself, I’ll quote the blog post. Please note that Clinton Kelly has not been quoted exactly:
“…everything you will ever see on a celebrity’s body, including their outfits when they’re out and about and they just get caught by a paparazzo, has been tailored, and the same goes for everything on What Not To Wear. Jeans, blazers, dresses – everything right down to plain t-shirts and camisoles…Nothing on the show or in People magazine is off the rack and unaltered. He said that what they do is ignore the actual size numbers on the tags, find something that fits an individual’s widest place, and then have it completely altered to fit. That’s how celebrities have jeans that magically fit them all over, and the rest of us chumps can’t ever find a pair that doesn’t gape here or ride up or slouch down or have about four yards of extra fabric here and there.”
I knew celebrities get their clothing altered (not to mention uber curious about who their fabulous tailors are), but I always figured it stopped at awards gowns and pieces picked out by stylists for appearances. But to alter everything, even down to t-shirts and camisoles? Well, no wonder they always look great.
So, how in the world did these people figure this out? Stylists? PR? And why isn’t this common knowledge for the rest of us? Why is the rest of the world sobbing in fitting rooms over our body hangups, while celebrities are skipping happily down the street to their tailor? Maybe it’s an affluence thing?
“He pointed out that historically, up until the last few generations, the vast majority of people either made their own clothing or had their clothing made by tailors and seamstresses. You had your clothing made to accommodate the measurements of your individual body, and then you moved the fuck on.”
This is a subject that really interests me. The idea of ready-to-wear is a new concept. Going to a store, picking out a piece of clothing based on a number, taking it home and then wearing it off the rack, is something people never did just a few generations ago. I know for a fact that my grandmothers bought clothing in department stores, but they took that clothing to a tailor, seamstress or made simple alterations at home to get it to fit. My mother’s generation (a baby boomer), took a freer, bohemian stance on fashion. Clothes were roomy and floaty, so there was no need to alter anything like their “stuffy” parent’s generation did. Now, as the daughter of a baby boomer, the idea of tailoring exists two generations away from me and my peer group, making it a foreign and sometimes shocking concept.
I really wish Clinton and Stacy would mention these points more on What Not To Wear. I know they talk about altering clothing to work for you, but I never realized the final wardrobe was fully altered for the makeover subject. It’s safe to say I’m thoroughly jealous of women who can get away with off-the-rack fit and still look put together. But for most of us, that’s not the way the cookie crumbles, and I feel we’d be a lot less frustrated with ourselves and our wardrobes if we knew that tailoring is normal, and often a necessity to achieve the look we want.
Every time I read this, I get the urge to shop less, invest in pieces I really love, and cough up the extra cash to get them tailored specifically for me. But then I get tailor sticker shock because of all the alterations a garment typically needs to fit little ol’ me, and I back off, reverting back to my faking fit ways. Maybe this is the year I stick to my guns? =P