Since I’ve been on a journey to *ahem* dress myself in clothes fit for wearing outside in daylight as opposed to clothes that look like wrinkly pajamas all the time, I’ve been trolling the interwebs for fashion tips, awesome gender-neutral clothing lines, and anything I can find about menswear that fits a woman’s body. The most important discovery I’ve made is actually an ancient one that, had I been listening (or cared), my grandmother tried to impart upon me at the tender age of 17. My gramma was a freakin’ amazing woman – she was wearing wigs, mini-skirts, and thigh-high boots well into her 60s, and her fashion choices for the senior center usually revolved around snappy pantsuits in colors like metallic silver. She even painted her nails silver, and had a little rhinestone bling glued to the ring fingers. Fashion was her life.
The point in my regaling you with myth-proportionate tales of my gramma’s style is that she would have been, in her words, a ‘ragamuffin’ without one key addition to her fashion world – her tailor. My grandmother had almost every single piece of clothing she wore tailored to exactly fit her, exactly the way she wanted it to fit her. This was especially true of jackets and pants, but any article could come under the tailor’s needle.
In my attempt to bridge the gaps between menswear and womenswear, not to mention the gaps in my previous size and my current size, I have finally heeded my gramma’s example. I found me a tailor, and my life has changed.
No more do I lament the boxy-ness of that perfect striped button-down. No more do I worry about the shoulders of that excellent thrift store jacket taking flight. I take my things to Eddy, and he calms all my anxieties.
I found Eddy through Yelp – that bastion of all opinion. There was a tie between his shop and a certain shop in the Valley known for bespoke tailoring and no-nonsense manner, but a stylish friend who had frequented there related that the prices were equal to two bottles of decent wine per item. Lo siento, no tengo.
Eddy, however, is one of those gems usually found in antique-encrusted tourist towns. A relic of a bygone time in the body of a (possibly queer) lithe 30-something. His prices are low and he’s willing to negotiate. He’ll call you if he’s running short on time and knock off a few dollars for your trouble. And in the meantime he’ll tailor a mean shirt. It’s not pocket change, but to have a button-down fully customized for under $20 is a dream.
Now, I am fortunate to have found a tailor who is as non-judgemental as tailors come. I could walk in there with a diaper and he would busily go about nipping and pinning and prodding until that diaper looked like a freaking Armani toga. He doesn’t even blink if I bring in a musty vintage suitcoat three sizes too big, although usually I stick to button-downs. I bring in shirts that fit me perfectly around the chest with no pulling, and then he takes the size down to make me look slim and trim. Moves the shoulder seams to sit crisply at the edge of my frame, shorten the length and sleeves, take the sleeves in so they don’t billow around my arms, take the body in so I don’t look like a flying squirrel. It’s brilliant.
For those out there looking for the perfect fit – be it chest-minimizing, hip-minimizing, or simply shortening your shirt so it doesn’t look like a nightdress, a tailor is THE way to go. Don’t be afraid to try one out – go buy a shirt for a dollar from a thrift store, one you wouldn’t mind wearing but also wouldn’t be sad to see ruined, and take it to a tailor to try them out. You might have to try a few, but it’s worth it. Trust me.