How to Have a Tailor

Before you go to a tailor you should really arrange to live in a foreign country. Everything is organized so much easier for women (in regards to tailors) abroad. To get a tailor overseas is simple. 1) Be charming 2) Meet other charming women 3) Be a charming friend and voila – women will fall over themselves to introduce you to their tailor. And as introducing you to her tailor is one of the most intimate things a woman can do for you, be sure to treat this as a special sign of affection and goodwill. But if you are on your own (or in the States) here’s the scoop.

Remember that time spent at the beginning of a relationship with repay itself ten times over once you get into sync. You’re far too young for this, but I will tell you now so that it will be easier to teach you the lesson later when you can really benefit from it. When you hit a depression (God forbid) or just need some fine-tuning to get on an even keel (true divas are practically always annoying even-keeled) you will go see a psychiatrist. And spend a few hours talking about your childhood, your friends, your relatives (but not your dear aunt) etc. until finally you get to the point at hand, and everything becomes clear.

You may, if you are a peevish sort, wonder why you couldn’t just have gotten to the main issue the first hour you went to see the Dr., but that is not the way of the world. In the same manner, you must be prepared to work a bit to get a good tailor and then expect your rewards only after a few months have gone by. If you grow up to be one of those instant gratification types (in which case your younger sister gets the castle in France and you get my National Geographic collection), then just stick to buying your clothes ready-made. Actually why don’t you just buy a few rolls of the extra-wide duct tape and wrap yourself in that. It’s weather proof, fairly resilient and you can wear it with black pumps as well as rain boots.

But if you are truly your mother’s child you shall first hie yourself to a GOOD fabric store. No, not one of those ghastly strip-mall things. A good fabric store. Now look for fabric for a simple item you wish to have made, a simple blouse, plain shirt, etc. It’s easier for starting out to have an item you want copied. So go get a few yards (the salesclerk will be able to tell you how much fabric you will need) of good cream linen to get a shirt you already own copied (remember when it comes to copying clothes, you will need to make sure that the fabric you buy is the same ‘weight’ and ‘feel’ as the original. It doesn’t always have to be the same material – but it does need to have the same heft and drape or the lines will be all wrong).

Now go look for a tailor. Start with any friends who might have a tailor, or start with friends who sew (FRIEND WARNING – it is usually hideous mistake to embark on any kind of customer relationship with a friend. Proceed with extreme caution and do all prices BEFOREHAND. Before you show up at her door with the fabric. And make sure BEFOREHAND that said friend can really sew, as you will HAVE to wear whatever she or he produces on at least two occasions when s/he is present. No hiding.) If you don’t have any personal connections, get out the Yellow Pages (Yes, I said Yellow Pages. Divas know how to get information without an electronic toy. ). See what’s near you. Visit the shops. If you don’t like the ‘feel’ of the place. Don’t stay. You can always walk in, look about and walk out.

When you find a place you like, hand over the fabric and the piece you want copied, wait the requisite time and go pick it up. Make careful note if the price is as specified beforehand, if the piece is ready when they said it would be, and if the piece looks right. Try it on in the shop. Look carefully. If you feel the least bit timid, bring a bossy friend along. I have, in my very self-sacrificing way, played bossy person for several friends. If the hem if wrong, if the sleeves are too tight – no matter how big or small the problem, bring it up immediately. Be pleasant but firm. If it’s not fixed the second time, give up. If there is anything you feel uneasy about, don’t go back. Try a different shop. Even if you run through four inferior places before you find the tailors of your dreams, it is worth the effort.

Also keep in mind, most tailors should handle the little stuff (pillows, curtains, shawls, etc.) as well as the tricky items (dirndl skirts, sailor’s blouses, coats, swimsuits). Once you are a ‘regular,’ use your tailor for all he or she is worth – get slips made, buy fancy velvet and silk pieces and have  magnificent scarves made up for friends as holiday gifts. Cut out pictures of dresses in catalog and magazines and bring them in to be copied (a good tailor can whip up a dress from a picture).

I shall now wax nostalgic for a minute, pay close attention. I once had a tailor so divine, so heaven-sent that I, with the drawing ability of your average Pekinese, could sketch out a lovely creation and my tailor could whip it up within a week. Those were the days, my pet. Those were the days. If you live well, keep your gentle ways and always honor your aunt, I’m sure you will find one for yourself when you are old enough for proper ball gowns and opera dresses.