I love the notion of oversized clothes. They convey a message about you without you having to say anything. They whisper of sophistication and effortlessness that comes with trusting your own fashion choices. Clothes from The Row illustrate this aesthetic perfectly. They are beautifully cut, slouchy in all the right places, quiet and unassuming yet clear in their message.
But what’s girl to do when she is vertically challenged? I stand 5’2″ tall (that’s 160cm). I don’t complain maybe because I have no idea how it is on the tall side. Over time I’ve developed certain strategies (there’s a reason smalls dogs are the loudest) but when it comes to clothes, finding the right fit is often a struggle.
With purposefully too big jumpers, shirts and t-shirts I can play a balancing game by wearing fitted bottoms and heels but coats are a different matter all together.
I’ve lusted after a robe like coat ever since I’ve missed out on collaboration of Vanessa Bruno line with French brand La Redoute where a pièce the résistance was an oversized bathrobe like coat. That was 3 years ago and I haven’t been able to find a similar coat that fitted me. Every oversized coat I tried on swamped me and I looked like I’ve borrowed it from an older sister.
When you find yourself in a similar position then tailor made clothes are your answer. Have you ever been for a fitting? It’s a wonderful experience. I love that I’m involved every step of the way in making something I’ve dreamt of. I get so excited to see the first version of my piece. In a confrontation between my dream and reality there will inevitably always be things that I want to change or some surplus fabric I will want to get rid of.
There’s always a debate on what to change and the impact it will have on the piece and it’s wearability. Sometimes I’d have a specific thing in mind but the fabric I bought won’t play ball. Of course, the more experienced your tailor is, the less compromise there will have to be. I love that process where we debate over a sleeve for example, deciding what, if anything will be worn under the garment and how tight/roomy the sleeve is supposed to be. Every extra inch of a hem will be debated, too.
And finally, after a few fittings I will pick up my piece, try it on in the studio for the one last time and woah- I feel a million dollars. It’s perfect. I leave the studio feeling like Jackie Kennedy.
So once I’ve decided on having my coat made, I needed to buy fabric. But what colour? Black seemed too cumbersome and I’ve reserved navy for a pea coat (coming to a blog near you in March!) but they had an array of sand, taupes, soft greys and beiges. I immediately thought of S/S 2015 collection by Georgio Armani entitled Sabia. Master of neutrals, Armani was inspired by sand dunes, whiteness of marble quarry and complex yet subtle colours of mineral world. I loved the whole collection, so elegant and understated yet so sophisticated.
So for my coat I decided on a soft taupe wool and picked up dusky rose fabric (on the photos it looks more like lavender) for the lining. The cut was to be bathrobe like, slightly oversized without swamping me. I wanted the sleeves to be a little bit too long so I could roll them up.
What do you think about the end result? I absolutely love it. I can wear it in two ways, either thrown over my shoulders or belted. It goes beautifully with my blush skirt from Topshop (one of the best investment buys this season) and dove grey tee shirt. I’m wearing my favorite nude sling-backs. The coat looks equally great with my over the knee python effect boots- their color palette (soft yellows and greys) go a dream with taupe.
If you are encouraged by this post to try tailoring for yourself, here are few tips on starting out:
@Start with taking your newly bought jeans, jackets or dress to a tailor. A lot of hight street buys, especially jeans and jackets would benefit from being taken in an inch or so in the right places. That inch will really make a difference to the way the piece looks. To put it simply, it will seem more expensive than it really was.
@Some tailors will specialise in making certain garments. The tailor who did this coat excels at making suits, coats, skirts and trousers but is reluctant to make dresses or shirts so for that I go to someone else.
@It would be great if you could find an amazing tailor through the word of mouth or have a friend let you on a closely guarded secret (trust me, I would not reveal my tailor’s details to more than a couple of friends for fear that I would be unable to book in with her after that!). But if you can’t find that trusted person, it sometimes pay to take a risk. Buy a cheaper fabric and ask the tailor you found to do a garment for you. If you like the effect you might have found your gem. If you don’t, you haven’t lost much. That’s how my mother found both our tailors as well as her hairdresser, man who does her leather jackets and her jewelry maker. Those people can take time to find but once you’ve found them, you will work with them for the rest of your life.
@Before you buy expensive fabric, tell your tailor what you want to have done. I sometimes found that a particular fabric I bought would not work well with the design I wanted. I would have save myself money and disappointment by taking advice first.
@When buying fabric, think of other things like lining-for example, when I had a black suit made, I would chose lipsick red lining to go with it. It would sometimes peek out providing an element of surprise in an otherwise quite conservative suit. Think of zips, buttons etc. Don’t have a garment made and then whack on random buttons or boring lining or worse- too short zip for the lack of proper one (I’ve done it once and it was a struggle to put the dress on). All these details will elevate the whole piece.
@Finally – have fun! Now you can really let your imagination run wild!
On the photos I’m wearing my handmade coat, Topshop skirt, t-shirt from Zoe Karssen and sling-backs from Prima Moda. I’m wearing a gold bracelet from Kruk. My handbag is Chanel 2.55.