Best in Bespoke

What’s better than black basics? When your black best is bespoke.

What exactly is bespoke? Let’s take a look at the different types of tailoring:

  • Off the Rack – Typical shopping, go into a store, try something on and if it fits and you like it, you buy it literally off the rack. You can then take these items to a tailor to have them hemmed or adjusted but the garment wasn’t made for you. The most common choice – and the most affordable, but also the hardest to have things fit correctly – especially if you aren’t the same proportions as the standard industry pattern sizing.
  • Made to Measure (MTM) – This is personalized clothing. Company starts with a set of patterns based on standard sizing and looks, and then adjusts those patterns based on your measurements. You can also often select fabrics and a few details based on the range of options the company provides (ex: buttons, lining, zippers,). You end up with a garment that should fit well and match your preferences. This used to be very rare, but with advances in AI and manufacturing processes, there are a few options cropping up in this space for women.
  • Bespoke – The ultimate in custom tailoring. The tailor starts with your measurements and builds a pattern specifically for your body type and preferences. You select all of the details and the options are endless. This is the most expensive option, and it is very difficult to find tailors who will build bespoke suits for women because we have so many more measurements and proportions to consider. However, once you have a pattern built to your frame and preferences you can then easily ask for replications in different fabrics with slight differences and you’ll always know you will love the fit.

Full disclosure, I have a tough body shape to shop for – broad shoulders, large bust, with a wide rib cage and very short torso, zero hip to waist ratio, and long legs. As a result, finding clothing that fits well is often a big challenge – dresses that fit through the hip won’t zip around my ribs and chest, or if they fit the upper body they are huge through my hips and gap unattractively in the front resulting in a strange kangaroo pouch look. Shirts love to pull across my chest, blazers hit at a strange point on my hips because my torso is so short, the list goes on. As a result, I often have to have sleeves hemmed, blouses taken in at the waist to accommodate for buying up in size to fit the bust, and there have been so many tears in dressing rooms through the years when things I think should fit won’t zip.

Last summer, I was gearing up to start with a new client and trying to find a few new pieces – frustrated by how badly everything fit, how cheaply it all was made, yet how expensive it still was. I set off to try and find a tailor who could make a few sheath dresses for me (thought I’d start simply – the sheath dress is pretty basic, and I already had examples they could use to start from). I was in Houston at the time and there are a lot of tailors – after shopping for fabric at High Fashion Fabrics, and talking with a tailor for fitting and evaluation – I found I was priced out of the market – it was going to be several hundred for the fabric alone, and then the tailoring on top of it just for one dress too much (I’ll spend a lot on a great blazer or a full suit because they are so much harder to fit – but a basic sheath dress coming in at $700+ was a bit more than I wanted to spend at the time).

My mom – who was with me while I had been searching for tailors and fabrics and had seen how frustrated I was by the lack of good options – comes from a long line of master seamstresses and tailors and decided it would be a fun challenge to try to create a dress for me.

She ordered fabric off of Mood online: It has a great four way stretch so it is super comfortable to wear. And we selected a color wave that was neutral grey/black/white so that it would go with everything. She then began building a pattern. She took all of my measurements, and cut everything via paper. Then out of muslin. There were several fittings – working to get the neckline and arm cut outs right – not too low, enough room to move, no gapping or restrictions. The final version is awesome – while I’m sure she’d tell you there is more for her to do to adjust (we decided the facing that was used to line the seams was a bit too firm for example), I love it. It fits better than any of my other dresses, goes well with the rest of my work wardrobe, and is incredibly comfortable to wear.  That said though, if she calculated the amount of time it took to create and a fair hourly rate – this dress would also have cost a fortune.

There need to be better options for women to find MTM and Bespoke tailoring for their professional work clothing. It’s frustrating that not only are our off the rack clothing options more expensive and harder to shop for (read – less professional attire options available, and zero suit departments for women), but also less customized for what is available. A quick Google search for anything related to women’s suiting clearly shows that the entire industry has a huge void to fill as the search results are abysmal, uninformative, and dated (and the companies who are trying to enter into the market need to do a better job of SEO and marketing).

We need better bespoke options so that we are able to best in basic black.

All my best,

Outfit Details – Dress: Bespoke Collaboration between KelsC. Consulting & Karen Creveling  Blazer: Theory ShoesJimmy Choo NecklacePearls Earrings: Pearls SunglassesRayBan Bracelet:  David Yurman Ring:PERSONAL DESIGN (SUNFLOWER) CREATED BY: RONNY BARNEA –  JEWELRY ON 5TH  Purse: Prada  Perfume: Black Saffron by Byredo

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