Never under estimate the skill of a good tailor. A true professional can transform a garment from looking cheap to chic, frumpy to fabulous, ill-fitting to something that alludes to custom made!
Garment fit is crucial to looking our best whatever size and shape we may be. It’s a factor between stylish and style-less, provides the ability to emphasize one’s best attributes and camouflage the others. Skillful stitches with a nip and tuck can turn an outdated garment into a current trend or give an old dress nine lives!
My grandmother was a highly regarded tailor. Aside from her professional status as such, she made all our family’s clothes from the basics to three-piece gentlemen's suits, outer coats and wedding dresses all of which materialized from her tiny back bedroom and her Viking sewing machine. The local priests would bring their robes for her to alter… no pun intended! They’d chat to Grandpa in the kitchen, eat Nanna’s home baked scones and drink tea from a china cup whilst the whirring of the Viking drifted downstairs!
Growing up, the pin pricks from rigorous fittings has seen to it that no amount of acupuncture will have the slightest effect on me now! But I learned a valuable lesson, when it comes to style and looking polished, fit is everything.
Not all tailors are made the same. Some are old school like Nanna was. I’m fortunate (well that’s a matter of opinion) to have found a classically trained retired tailor (who’s also very grumpy) but still does the odd job from home if he’s in a good mood! These are the best tailors for intricate work, specialty, re-design or difficult items that require a certain amount of reverse tailoring, i.e. unpick, alter, and re-make - the sort of thing my Nanna always did on the rare occasions she bought something off-the-rack! Then there are those that will do an adequate job on taking-in, letting-out, hemming and some modern-day aesthetics.
I have two tailors that I use, the aforementioned Mr. Grumpy, whose personality is worth dealing with on account of the tailoring miracles he can perform, and Mr. Taylor the Tailor, who handles most of the cosmetic alterations on my off-the-rack garments.
Finding a Good Tailor
Word of mouth is the best way to go. Independent tailors don’t often advertise, but they will have a loyal customer base of mostly stylish people, who likely keep their tailor a closely guarded secret! Ask your fashionista friends during cocktail hour, people like to tell secrets when they’ve had a drink!
Department stores and men’s clothiers often outsource in-house alterations and utilize an independent tailor so it’s worth asking the sales associates or the stylists who work there if they can recommend someone.
Ask Google for tailors in your town. Online, you’ll find those closest to you and reviews, although not all reviews are accurate! A little extra homework wouldn’t go amiss, like a phone call to ask if they can shorten a sleeve from the shoulder of a jacket (one of the hardest alterations to do).
Go to their place of work and check them out in person. If their work area is clean and organized that’s a good sign, you don’t want to leave your clothes in a smelly, less than spotless environment. Also, ask to see some examples of their work, they’re bound to have some completed pieces that have not yet been picked up by the customer.
The difference between Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Taylor!
Mr. T does what I ask, he’ll take a hem up exactly 1.25 inches, or let the waist out exactly half an inch. I provide explicit instructions, usually an example area already pinned in place, and it’s carried out adequately.
Mr. Grumpy knows that if I want ‘x’ taken in here, then ‘y’ needs to be adjusted there or, to achieve ‘a’, then ‘b’ and ‘c’ needs to be altered as well. He’s not trying to up-sell, he’s a true professional, a perfectionist who knows how to achieve what I’m looking for even when I don’t!
A good tailor will charge accordingly which doesn’t mean it will be cheap. It’s time consuming, it’s a rare skill, and if you’ve found a Mr. Grumpy, he’s worth paying for and forging a relationship with.
The Benefits of Tailoring
Inexpensive off-the-rack clothes can be tweaked and altered to fit perfectly achieving a high-end expensive look. I’ve purchased a $16.99 jumpsuit and spent $30 tailoring it, but the result was a custom fitted garment that was both flattering and comfortable.
If you have an odd body shape and struggle to find clothes that fit, find something you love, buy a size that fits you in most places and alter the rest. For example, I have a thick waist and small hips, so I buy clothes that fit my waist and have the hips taken in. It’s always best to fit the bigger proportions and tailor down a size.
Let’s face it, even big label designers only produce clothes that fit one silhouette perfectly and we midlife women come in a myriad of outlines! So, whether it's high-end couture or off-the-rack fast fashion, there's a good chance it needs to be tailored if we want to look our best.
Extend the life of your clothes, turn a long dress into a short dress, a tunic, or even a top. Turn long pants into cropped pants or add a side slit at the ankle for an added style detail.
How many times have you loved a pair of jeans with an uber cool hem, frayed or distressed in some way, only to find they are way too long? Did you know a good tailor can invisibly shorten jeans and retain the distressing at the hem?
One last word of warning, don't ask your tailor to replace buttons! If you don't already know how to do that, you need to learn, otherwise you're not going to hold onto a good tailor for very long!
And remember, there's only one size - yours!
This blog is dedicated to the finest tailor and most gracious lady I am blessed to have called my Nanna. Mary Elizabeth Fairhurst
Most of us have been making new year resolutions since we were old enough to decide we wanted to improve or change ourselves in some way. Whether it be a short-term resolution to return to a svelte figure after the over indulgences of the holiday season, or perhaps a more long-term plan to get into a fitness routine, it's a steadfast way to press the reset button in our minds eye and instill some positive inspiration.
However, some feel that making new year resolutions is setting up for failure. It's true that resolve can weaken, sometimes at the first hurdle and as such the self-worth may come crashing down around us. This "falling off the wagon" can have catastrophic results, tempting the return of those pre-resolution habits and/or behaviors so that our feeble souls may be comforted from the barrage of personal insults we mentally throw at ourselves under such conditions.
But it doesn't need to be like that.
Any day is a good day to start doing something differently if it improves our lives, it doesn't have to be the new year. But the new year has additional super powers that are worth utilizing. We've all at some point or another said something like, "I'm starting my diet on Monday!" Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But there are lots of Mondays available and they're all quite close together, so if this Monday doesn't work out, we've always got next Monday, or the next and so on! Mondays just don't have the same motivating power as that special day that comes but once a year, New Year's Day!
The super power comes about from the build up to the new year which always has us thinking. It's a time to reflect and look forward to a fresh start. This conscious thought process gives our resolutions a longer marinating period, time for them to be absorbed into the subconscious mind, which is what helps to make them become habit or second nature! (First nature is instinctive; second nature is habit). If you want something set in stone, then it needs to be set deep in the subconscious mind and it gets there by repeated conscious thoughts and actions.
Everything we do to celebrate the new year suggests it's a new beginning. The midnight clock countdown, the kissing and hugging of loved ones as the first embrace, the well wishes and blessings we offer one another at the first of the year. By these actions we establish a sense of fresh start, so it's a phenomenal time to set a resolution, or two or three or more. Yes, lots and lots of resolutions, because improvement and a few tweaks for the better is always a good thing.
It doesn't matter if all the resolutions don't work out. If some do, then you have a win. If some last for a month or only a week, then something good has been achieved... another win! If you slip up, don't be mad at yourself, just re-engage with your plan and carry on, remember, it takes a lot of repetitive behavior to make something a habit or second nature, the more tries you have at it, the higher the chance of the win.
Here are some of my personal resolutions this year: drink way more water, drink way less wine, cut out late night snacking, be in bed by 10 pm so I can wake up at 6 am, include more weight training, and lots of other ongoing tweaks that I will continue to train myself to do until they become habit. Not every day is a winning day, but because every day I consciously make an effort, over time improvement takes place and that is the goal. And, when all else fails, there's always next Monday!
Wishing you a very happy, healthy and successful new year in whatever rocks your boat! Don't forget to count the wins however small because they all add up.
Chili and cold weather go hand in hand. It's a tasty bowl of goodness with enough spice to clear the sinuses and warm the cockles of the heart. Eaten by itself topped with all your favorite accoutrements or laid bare on a bed of rice, it's a classic turnkey dish that begs to be made en mass and served every day until it's gone... or freeze for later enjoyment!
Here's a twist on the traditional recipe forsaking the beans and making it Keto friendly. I'm not a rigid Keto dieter, I simply prefer this version as it makes me feel less blah after eating it! And, if you are following a Keto diet, the cauliflower rice suggestion is a delicious nutritional accompaniment.
The current obsession with animal print is rather like a number one hit record. Every time you turn on the radio, it's that song playing again and everywhere you look, it's animal print again!
Before the numbness sets in and we go off it altogether, the fashion powers that be have decided to spice things up! What better way than to throw in some unexpected colors. Rich deep reds, blues, greens and yellows are now sporting our beloved leopard spots and snake prints, yes indeed... step aside neutrals, colored prints matter!
Let's slip into something more comfortable, shall we? With the holidays fast approaching, we don't want to feel trussed up like a Butterball turkey in our party regalia. If you prefer the holidays with free-range rather than restricted movement, fearing your outfit may tear, snag, catch on something or simply bust open at the seams in its efforts to relieve itself of your person, then consider a slip dress.
Is it necessary to know our roots for a sense of belonging? We're here already, whatever our ancestral origins are, life goes on and we're part of it! Of course, I'm proud to be British born and bred, and despite living in America and loving it here, I feel my roots lie in the mother land of England. If any other heritage exists besides my obvious British genes, then hopefully the addition of some good old "Heinz 57" variety has benefited me in some way.
When you've been waiting for the perfect dress to come along in one of your favorite prints that just happens to be so "of the moment", well leopard always was, it's totally worth swinging from the chandelier and spreading the word, it would be rude not to! Here's to the ultimate leopard print dress, and the desire to swing from a chandelier!
It seems being married brings on additional symptoms of midlife, in that husbands become less adventurous. Wives on the other hand tend to kick things up a notch during their midlife, am I right?
As was the case this particular Sunday for us three girl friends. A spur of the moment idea, a day trip to Flagstaff for a hike, a brewery tour and a visit to Camp Verde. Granted, my first reaction was "What time are you setting off?", and my second reaction, irrespective of the early start time, a resounding "Yes!"
My husband didn't want to get up early and had a ton of work to do, another wanted to stay home and watch the baseball and the third wanted to take his new car for a spin... yawn! Midlife man symptoms, this is why you need girl friends ladies!
I recently wrote a blog (linked HERE) about my menopause journey, which thanks to SottoPelle® was a short story!
There was a tremendous response from women suffering the effects of menopause, many of whom have not found a solution or are suffering with ineffective solutions. Thank you to all the ladies who contacted me with questions and to share their stories.
Today, I invite you to come along and experience one of my appointments with SottoPelle®. A commitment I have been making every four months for six years without hesitation, because, it enables me to live my best life, no hormone surges, none of the symptoms of menopause, no side effects, just a normal well-balanced human being. Well, hormonally well balanced that is, ha ha!
Animal prints have long been the back bone of the fashion industry when it comes to pattern, and rightly so, it's instinctive one might say. Caveman was wearing animal prints before he even knew it was fashionable, albeit in the form of real skins and fur! So, it makes sense that animal print has largely dominated the style arena - the foundation was set in history, relegating the reptiles to shoes and handbags. After all, how many snakes would it take to make a loin cloth, or more importantly a dress? With the invention of textile printing and the social lean toward "fashionable faux" this or that, it matters not in this era. Now we can have endless lengths of Boa Constrictor or friendly Python wrapped about our person having materialized from a 100 yard by 54-inch bolt!
If you're looking to ramp up your metabolism, torch a bunch of calories, improve your strength, endurance, and define your muscles, then the Tabata fitness routine may just be the answer to your prayers. Tabata costs nothing and doesn't require you to consume any expensive questionable supplements or concoctions. It's quick, best done in the privacy of your own home, and in my experience it really works.
You may have noticed that this has been the year of the one piece swimsuit. Step aside itsy-bitsy bikini, there is a not-so-new player taking center stage and it's redefining sexy swimwear!
Menopause hit me like a freight train at 50 years old!
It was as though my body had taken on a whole new set of rules that I wasn’t privy to, except to see and feel the miserable effects that resulted. I wanted me back, the version that ran smoothly like a well-oiled engine, not this one that kept back-firing and faltering daily.
There are many jewels to be found in the state of Arizona, but some are well hidden, like the Hermosa Inn tucked away in Paradise Valley. It's the last place you'd expect to find a hotel, situated alongside multi million-dollar resort homes in one of the wealthiest property zip codes in the country. But that's part of the charm, it's not like staying in a hotel, more like house sitting for your affluent relatives with full access to enjoy their spectacular southwestern style home whilst the staff take care of your every need. The only difference is, you pay for the privilege!
The recent frenzy toward the smartwatch in the western world has reached epidemic proportions. Most adults don about their wrist a watch with a blacked-out face or a rubber tube with seemingly no face. We're walking around as though in a science fiction movie under surveillance by this tracking and communication device. The problem is, the average smartwatch is anything but smart! It lacks style and is far from down to earth, looking somewhat sinister by it's dark secrecy and monitoring of our every waking and sleeping moment!
Never fear, there is a hybrid here! Say hello to the Misfit Path, a smartwatch with more style than a rubber wrist tube can only dream about.
Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
Enter your Email above and receive blog updates directly to your inbox!
Follow me on Instagram @aboveandbeblonde and see daily outfits and other fun stuff:
Use the search field to enter keywords to look up a specific blog:
Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50