If you’ve ever cleared out your wardrobe and re-discovered clothes you forgot you owned, or have a load of clothing you just don’t wear, this might be your sign to start tailoring your wardrobe.
Tailoring is an age-old practice, but for some reason, the word itself turns so many of us off. Dismissed as too expensive, inaccessible, or simply something that only Real Adults with mortgages do, it's more common for us to ditch the clothes that don't feel right rather than paying a few extra pounds to personalise it. But as textile waste reaches all-time highs, the cost of living crisis rages on, and we seek more ways to shop sustainably, it’s the perfect time to consider shopping our own wardrobes.
According to Vestiaire Collective, the average person only uses 20-30% of their wardrobe, which is 40% less than we were using just 10 years ago. But these days, with modern alteration apps like Sojo and The Seam, getting your clothes tailored is now more convenient than ever. And newsflash: it's not as expensive as you think, with repairs generally ranging from $25 to $80.
Layla Sargent, founder of UK startup The Seam — which connects local tailors to people looking for repairs ranging from trouser hems to embroidery — is a huge proponent of the emotional connection that you get out of upcycling your clothes. “Growing up, I was very lucky because my nan would tailor all the clothes I bought as a child and teenager," Sargent says. "I’d buy trousers from Topshop, then my nan would adjust the hem, adjust the waistband, add embroidery — and just watching her go through that process, it transformed the garment for me. It became something that meant something to me."
Josephine Philips, who founded the UK-based clothing repairs app Sojo, echoes this sentiment, putting an emphasis on the environmental impact of altering rather than buying. "The fashion industry has a real waste problem. In Australia, the average person contributes 23kg of clothing to landfill each year. Repairing clothing instead of buying something new, not only limits consumption but also reduces the amount of waste each individual is responsible for."
As someone who has a load of clothes I just don't wear, I was inspired to get four pieces altered by Sojo and The Seam, just in time for all my summer plans. Let's just say I now have four brand new pieces to choose from...
Taking In A Waist
I got this Zara dress secondhand from a clothing swap in London. While I immediately loved the colour, once I tried it on at home it was a little too loose around the waist. Since getting it I'd only worn it once, but after having it taken in from a tailor at The Seam, I now feel super confident in it. Hello, weekend markets. Cost via The Seam: £15 and £8 for a home visit.
The struggle with having a fuller bust is that I often have to size up in tops, leaving them ill-fitting in other areas. In the case of this Urban Outfitters corset, everything fits well except for the straps. You can't tell in the photos, but after I had a tailor take them in by a couple of inches, the top becomes 10 times more comfortable. Sometimes the smallest of changes make the biggest difference.
Upping Denim Potential
The waistband gap is another age-old problem, so getting it taken in on these Rails jeans was a serious game changer. Before altering, these were simply just a nice pair of jeans, but now they're a bombshell number that's guaranteed to make heads turn.
Modifying A Silhouette
Finally, I chose to get this Hunter Bell maxi dress reshaped to suit my style. While the dress, which was kindly gifted from their PR, is meant to be oversized, I wanted it to be more fitted around the bodice. So after filling in the details of what I wanted on Sojo, it came back to me a brand new dress that I'm obsessed with. So excited to wear this to my next summer night out. I'll definitely be altering more of my clothes, stat.