By: Revanche

Off the rack, out of the box

May 30, 2012

I had forgotten what a difference a tailor makes.

Poking around an Ann Taylor sale, there was a blazer with great bones that seemed like it could fill out a hole in my professional wardrobe really nicely so I added it to my order, mostly to try on and hit the free shipping quota.

It was boxy and bulky. I was a bit shocked that, even sized as far down as possible, it still made me look completely frumpy, like a beanpole wrapping herself in a sackcloth.

My eye for fit and fashion remains unhoned, but it was such a terrible fit that I had to go back and check whether I had imagined how well a jacket should fit. Comparing the difference between the $100 tailoring on the jacket I wear now and this off the rack jacket is night and day.

I’m still mulling over whether this jacket is worth spending the money on at all, or whether I should keep looking for better base material.  Either way, I am reminded once again of the value of a great tailor on things like this.

The rest of the box was a bit of a disappointment.

A much needed pair of black pants: 2 inches too long, saggy around the waist and probably too long in the crotch.
Decision: On the fence but I’ve been grumpy about alteration experiences with pants of late. Or perhaps mainly with the fact that I can’t get into my altered pants which has less to do with them than me.
A medium-interesting poly blouse: too wide, the armholes too large. Not sure that can be remedied.
Decision: It’ll go back, it’s not worth $40 plus alterations.
Bright green cardigan:

Surprise and a half, the cardigan actually fit well; that never happens. I’ve already worn it a few times. It went with me, experimentally, on a work trip, and cheered up my (as it turned out unnecessarily) wintry gear quite well. My only concern is that it might not be a long-wearing material.
Decision: Probably a keeper.

While the additional 50% off made most of the order seem nearly reasonable, the total still makes me pale and I’m pretty sure I’d feel better returning at least half.

This reluctance to spend is why I struggle with having a variety of good clothes but I’m also striving not to hoard too much Stuff either – I get closet claustrophobia. The claustrophobia isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it limits careless spending and mindless accumulation. But it is a bit of a toughie getting dressed of a morning as clothes wear thin. Seems like they just don’t make things to last anymore.

4 Responses to “Off the rack, out of the box”

  1. I tend to do my shopping once every few years at the Loft outlet stores. I like being able to try things on first (though I hate trying things on). Quality hasn’t been so bad, and I like that most of the Loft stuff is washable. I’ve gotten really lucky going right between seasons when they’re trying to get rid of one season– I have some beautiful shirts and cardigans that I got for $5 each last fall.

    Occasionally (again, once every few years) I’ll hit up Brooks Brothers during their 50-80% off sales (these happen 2x a year, usually during an annual conference in my field, so if there’s a Brooks Brothers nearby it makes good shopping). The Brooks Brothers stuff is amazing quality, though generally does need tailoring (they do the pants for free if you live nearby, but I don’t). It’s still $100 for a pair of pants even on huge discount, but they’re really nice pants.

  2. You’re telling me.

    Just when I thought I got my wardrobe to the right place, I have to come to the conclusion that my clothes don’t fit me any more. They are simply too big and I have to either pay MORE money to get them tailored AGAIN (smaller), or wait and see if I’ll beef up in the next week or so.

    Hard to say…. I feel the urge to tailor them but what if I put on weight and am stuck with something that is too small?

    AGH!!!!!

  3. Annoying, isn’t it?

    Stores that used to sell clothing that looked good and fit well have just quit. I used to buy a lot of stuff from Talbot’s. But when they changed they’re “look” they apparently changed suppliers, too, and now the stuff Talbot’s sells looks terrible on me and never fits. I never bought much from Ann Taylor because most of their products need dry-cleaning and I’m oversensitive to those chemicals. But always thought their outfits looked very handsome…what a shame if they’ve dorked up the fit and quality, too!

    Brooks Brothers, eh? I’ll check the stores here for sales. That place has always been an “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” venue for me. 😉

  4. Revanche says:

    @NicoleandMaggie: I’ve found that my luck at Loft and AT has diminishing returns the more I rely on them, no matter how frequently I go… which is odd, no matter how I slice it. I can only ever come away with a few good items that are high quality and the right sizes so I have to keep hunting away until I find them.

    It’s a bit frustrating. I do have a nice pair of pants from Brooks Brothers but it’s not great how expensive they are and fit is just as difficult to find.

    @MM: Right there with you. My weight doesn’t fluctuate *much* but my ability to fit into things does… which is strange.

    @FaM: Yes, I’ve definitely seen the same degradation in quality over the years. SMH, goes along with the stupid vanity sizing and everything. As if shopping were fun to begin with! Ah well, needs must and all that.

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