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Should Your Clothes Be Custom Made?

By Diana Pemberton-Sikes

Ready-to-wear apparel is great. You can walk in a store, try it on, and if it fits your body and budget, you can take it home right then. It sure beats the heck out of taking the time to make it yourself or hiring someone to custom-make something, right?

Maybe, maybe not.

If clothes shopping for you is an ongoing exercise in frustration because of your too-long legs, an odd fabric allergy, size-defiant proportions or whatever, maybe it's time to pass the mall and head to a custom clothier instead. For not only will you get to choose your own fabrics and trims, you'll also get clothes that fit correctly regardless of whatever figure challenge you present.

Now I know what you may be thinking: "That's too expensive."

But chances are, it's not. If you add up the cost of buying clothes and paying to have them altered, or buying a special size by mail order and paying to have it shipped, or even burning time and gas to run all over town looking for something that fits, you may find that you'll spend less time and money having something custom made. I encourage you to do the math.

Now if you still think that custom apparel is a bit extravagant, consider this: men's ready-to-wear clothing has been around for nearly two hundred years - since before the sewing machine came along in the 1850's -- but women's ready-to-wear has only been widely available since the 1920's. Why? Because back when women wore corsets, manufacturers had trouble creating clothes that fit! It wasn't until the loose-fitting straight silhouettes became popular in the 20's that manufacturers could profit from selling women's ready-to-wear clothes. So what did women do before that? They either sewed their own clothes or had them custom made.

See how this comes full circle?

So who should consider having her clothes custom made? I suggest you try a custom clothier if you:

*Routinely have to have your clothes altered to fit correctly.

*Have trouble getting certain types of garments to fit, like tops, skirts, or slacks.

*Have special requirements, like fabric allergies, medical issues (wheelchair bound, arthritis/can't fasten buttons), or post-surgical needs.

*Need a special occasion ensemble, gown, or costume.

*Want beautifully made, one-of-a-kind clothes.

The best place to find a custom clothier near you is through associations like:

The Custom Tailors and Designers Association of America

The Professional Association of Custom Clothiers

Or you can try various custom clothing sites online where you input your measurements and they customize their selections for you. Popular sites include:

*Baron Boutique

Classic silk suits, coats, and dresses from Nepal.

*Dockers (USA) UK)

Get custom-fitted pants and shorts from this favorite casual pant maker. Available in misses, petite, and plus sizes.

*Lands' End (USA) (UK)

Custom order jeans, chinos, blouses, and outerwear from this venerable mail order house.

*Nick's Collections

Get skirts, suits, dresses, and more from this popular Hong Kong tailor.

*Ravis Tailor

Get beautiful custom classics from this 3rd generation Thai clothier.

Getting properly fitting clothes shouldn't be stressful, even if your body defies standard ready-to-wear sizing. If you don't sew, find a clothier that can customize clothes for you. Not only will it be money well spent, you'll look great THE FIRST TIME.

And wouldn't that be a nice change of pace?

About The Author

Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of "Wardrobe Magic," an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at


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