Archives for March 2017


by Traci McBride

Regardless of shape or size, we need to have a good tailor on speed dial. When purchasing new suits or separates off the rack, keeping an eye toward the details of the fit is key. I recommend expecting to tailor to some degree. Women tend to need the same areas tailored on most everything.


Example: I have a client that wears a size 14. In certain brands a 14 is a perfect fit in her length, thigh, seat, and hips — but the waist is 99 percent of the time an inch or two too big. She knows that most of the time she will spend another $15 on that to tweak every pair of pants. She has now calculated that into her clothing budget.

Example: I have a petite client that is on the shorter side of petites. She is 4 feet 11 inches, so even when shopping in the Petite department we will need to tailor a majority of her purchases, usually the length in skirts and dresses. If we love a top or blouse that is not available in Petites, we weigh how much joy the item gives her, as well as the flexibility of the garment to build into multiple outfits, since shortening the blouses is mandatory. We also need to evaluate how much detail is involved in the shortening — pleats, buttons, patterns, lining, etc. — as that will determine the cost of tailoring. More detail equals more cost equals the investment.

Example: Another client is a petite with a short waist and large bust and narrow shoulders. When she fits the largest part of her body (bust) in tops, blouses, and jackets, she has to tailor the sleeve and the waist most of the time. Many times to fit the bust, the shoulder seam sits off her shoulder. If left unattended, this will look sloppy and ill fitted. So we need to address the cost of tailoring if she loves the item and will get enough cost per wear value out if it. Reworking a shoulder can be expensive depending on fabric, lining, pads, and detail. We have found that this year’s abundance of ponte knit blazers has been a blessing for her particular fit issues, and we have invested in a few of those in her power colors. Perfect for pulling a professional look together!

Men have a long history of tailoring their suits, and many stores provide an on-staff tailor for exactly this purpose. Men also have narrow shoulders, wide shoulders, short waists, thick or thin legs, etc., and they have always viewed the tailoring investment as part of the over all cost. Typically they spend much more on one suit but wear it on a weekly basis.

Women tend to have more clothes — mostly as separates — so women sometimes think they can just roll back the sleeve or roll the waist if those areas are too long. I hope you can see the value in paying attention to the details for the details speak volumes about you.

Since I spend an abundance of my time in closets all over Northeast Ohio, I many times find suits or dresses that have been abandoned due to some unflattering detail or fit issues. I always give my advice as to whether or not it is worth the investment of tailoring it or taking the money to purchase something else.

Traci McBride is the wardrobe stylist of TeeMcBee Image Consulting and is a longtime supporter of nonprofit Dress for Success-Cleveland. She encourages readers to subscribe to her timely newsletter, schedule a style strategy call, or request Tee Speaks to infuse your staff or organization with a passionate professional punch of style to elevate and benefit everyone. Visit to connect and be inspired.