Adventures in Alterations – Zara Pinstripe Coat

how-to-alter-tailor-coat

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been on the lookout to add a coat to my wardrobe for a while now. I’m always trying on coats (always have one eye on J.Crew) but nothing has been so amazing I had to have it (and of course, willing to invest in the alterations). Thanks to SoCal mild winters, I’ve been able to get away without a coat, but have found myself wishing for one during recent travels. This fall season, my eyes were especially peeled for a coat, and I fell insanely in love with Stella McCartney’s navy pinstripe number.

Fast fashion didn’t disappoint with several dupes to choose from, namely Zara, Mango, & Topshop.

I decided on the Zara look-alike for a few reasons:

Petite-Friendly Proportions – The small lapel and fabric weight were friendly to my height. Also, the overall silhouette was less over-sized than the original design, which made it easier to tailor down.

Special Details – Things like the all over chalk-stripe (the Mango version had a contrast lapel which I wasn’t as fond of), breast pocket (I do love my pocket squares), and inside pockets (there’s 3 of them!) made this coat the better choice for me.

Decent Fabric – I would have preferred all wool, but those versions (Stella McCartney & Topshop) were either too far out of my price range, or didn’t have the details I wanted (no breast pocket & too big of a lapel). The Mango version was also a wool blend, but I know from experience that I’m always disappointed in Mango fabric quality. The Zara coat feels substantial and quite nice for the price.

— Alterations —

how-to-alter-tailor-coat-details

Coat/Jacket Alterations In General

If the coat is lined, the tailor will need to open or remove the lining before making alterations, and then re-attach when done. This increases the cost of most coat alterations.

Shoulder Narrowed

I was almost able to get away without, but my tailor recommended I have it done and after seeing the results, I agree. It just helps the coat sit better on my frame. This is the most difficult of the alterations done on this coat, and one that should be avoided if you have the luxury. Due to my height coupled with already having narrow shoulders, most coats and jackets need some modification in this area on me. The sleeve needs to be removed, shoulder and shoulder pad cut back, shoulder reshaped, and sleeve reattached. Only a skilled tailor you really trust should be given this task, and high price tags should be expected. Price range: ~ $75 – $150.

Torso Slimmed

I know that oversized silhouette is very trendy right now, but it’s hard for me to pull off at my height. I look like a child trying on an adult coat, so I knew I would be better served with a more classic, slimmer shape. There is no closure for this coat, so my tailor pinned it closed about where a button would be, and then contoured it to my natural shape. This gave it a very nice drape on my figure when worn open (a closure can be added later if I want). For this type of alteration, the lining is opened and the torso is slimmed by taking in the seams that already run along the side and back of the coat. Price range: ~ $45 – $65.

Sleeve Shortened

Since there were no buttons or cuff details, the sleeves were simply shortened from the bottom. Price range: unsure.

Overall Length Shortened

I love the elegant look of long coats on others, but let’s face it…I was swamped in all that fabric. Luckily there were no bottom details that risked getting lopped off, and the back vent was so long, it’s still a good length after shortening. I went for just above the knee, as I like the visual presence that length gives me from all angles, while still appearing to be a long-ish coat. Things to think about before doing this type of alteration: bottom details that risk being lost after shortening; awkward button placement of the bottom-most button; awkward vent length. Price range: unsure.

The Zara pinstripe coat is available here, Mango coat here, & Topshop coat here. I wore the altered Zara pinstripe coat here.

 

* prices are meant as a rough guide only. They are highly subjective and can vary wildly based on many factors including (but not limited to) average city storefront rental rates/taxes, tailor skill level/experience, competition from other tailoring shops, and complexity of the individual tailoring job.

20 Comments

  • Funny, I usually have the opposite impression of Zara vs Mango. And also, everytime I see costs of tailoring in other places, I’m glad I can wait til I’m back in Portugal…

  • So often the cost of alterations is a deal breaker for me when it comes to buying a garment. I am lucky enough that a 0P typically fits perfectly off the rack…of course I know this can limit me in the brands I buy. But the thought of spending more on alterations than I paid for the actual garment is hard to stomach (ever since I spent $110 to modify a $90 bridesmaid dress for a friend’s wedding 20 years ago).

    That said, the coat does look fabulous on you, and the style is much more classic than the Stella McCartney original.

    • Hi Ilfaith! So true! The cost of alterations can be a huge deal breaker! It’s really the shoulder alterations that hurt my pocket. *sigh* Hence why I haven’t bought a coat before this one! Consider yourself lucky that you have a tried and true size that fits you well, even if it does limit brand options. ;)

  • Alterations on this baby must have cost you a fortune, but the end result looks great! The price break-downs are really helpful for people to know about, so they can accurately gauge if a garment is worth buying or more trouble than its worth. Being petite can be so costly, ugh!

    Btw, love the website makeover :)

    XO, Christina
    http://www.closet-luxe.com

    • Thank you! I agree, if you can avoid shoulder alterations, do! My shoulders measure smaller than even most of the smallest petite sizes available on the market today, so it’s a necessary evil for me most of the time. Luckily, I found a tailor who is excellent at them. =)

  • Ahhh! Alterations like these always make me cringe because of the price tag! I also believe that a garment should be made to fit the first time around–have you considered foraying into bespokewear? The prices will be definitely higher, but you will have better control of the materials, trims, and fit.

    Nonetheless, the results are lovely!

    • Yes! I’ve definitely thought about bespoke! It sounds amazing, but I haven’t found a bespoke tailor that I’ve liked enough to trust with such an investment. I’m also a bit spooked by the whole, paying large sums of money for an item you won’t see for months, and hopefully it’s what you wanted/fits. I need to find a bespoke tailor I really trust before I’ll go down that route, and I just haven’t been introduced to one yet. But I fully expect that to be the next step in the evolution of my tailoring adventures. =)

      As for fitting off the rack, I learned a long time ago that I’m a unique size that no designer or brand is catering to fit the first time around, even in petite sizes (I’m 4’11 and narrow all around, and even petite sizes are designed to best fit women closer to 5’2″ with more average builds). Tailoring is a way of life for me.

      I only hope that my tailoring needs serves as a teaching opportunity for others who don’t know what tailoring can accomplish, or even that tailoring is possible!

      • I’m also curious about the bespoke world and had a blazer made recently. I learned a lot from that one experience and am excited to try more tailoring houses that do women’s blazers. Unfortunately, I’m also running into a brick wall on that front–it seems a lot of custom made blazer places in New York (and other places) only specialize in menswear. :(

        This is why I’m disenchanted with standard sizing: everyone’s body shape is unique and standard sizing rarely captures the nuances of an individual’s build. I agree that tailoring off-the-rack garments can make a huge different in the fit of the item; I find your Adventures in Alterations series both enjoyable and enlightening.

  • Wow Kelly what a difference! I’m honestly in awe of how you were able to even see potential in that jacket – I would have just laughed about the fit, put it back and walked away! You have a great eye and I’m glad it turned out well – looks great on you!

  • Wow, what a transformation on the coat. I love it when you post these alterations before and after pics. You got one good tailor! I’ve yet to find a trusty tailor in my area…..

  • Hi Kelly!

    I saw this coat at Zara myself when it went on sale but was scared off by the length and overall fit in general. I was skeptical that coat alterations were a good idea but you proved me wrong! I’m also petite and was wondering if you could tell me around how much it cost you total to alter this coat so I can get a sense of how much it might be for me in the future. Thanks!

  • You mentioned the coat lining being removed for certain alterations. How much does it cost to replace a coat lining? I have a lovely coat with some rips on the lining and would love to put it back in the rotation.

    • Hi Lisa! Hmm…that’s a good question and I don’t know exactly how much that would cost because I have’t had it done before, but my ballpark guess would be in the neighborhood of $40 – $60. Again, I could be TOTALLY off on that. You’d be paying for the cost of the new lining fabric, the time/work to unstitch the entire old lining, cut the pattern for the new lining, and then put the coat back together. If it’s a long or heavily detailed coat, it could cost a little more. However, if you have a beautiful coat you love, this would be a worthwhile maintenance cost to keep her going for years to come. And often, the cost of buying a replacement coat more than outweighs the cost of giving your old coat a facelift. It is also a fun opportunity to choose a new coat lining with your tailor, which sounds like fun! A pop of color peeking out from under a dark coat? Or a fun pattern? How fun! Just make sure the color of whatever lining you choose is color-fast because there’s nothing worse than a coat you’re afraid to wear because it leaves color marks on your clothes! I had to return a very cute blazer because I realized its red lining (which I loved!) was not color fast. I hope that helps!

  • I just found your website after searching “petite alteration shoulder bust” and boy, oh, boy! – I’m sucked in. I’m a huge fan of altering garments, but always a bit haphazardly – you have inspired me to a. find a tailor and b. purchase only things I absolutely love. Thank you!

    P.S. site design is just stunning :)

  • You have great taste in clothes. I really appreciate the side by side before and after pics. I also live in SoCal. What tailor do you use? For reference I’m in Huntington Beach.

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