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Alteration Station

What Not To Wear To A Wedding

Tis the season! No, it’s not almost Christmas again. (Give it a few weeks and it’ll seem like it.) But we definitely are smack dab in the middle of wedding season.

And with what may seem like a flood of invites in the mail comes the inevitable question, What in the world am I going to wear?

First things first: read the invitation carefully, front to back. Do NOT call the bride and groom, who have a million details to attend to, and ask them what to wear. Often they have included instructions about attire in the invitation.

Does it say “black tie”? Then that means the event begins after six o’clock and it’s time to buy, pull out of your closet or rent a tux and evening gown. For black tie — which is likely the most formal apparel designation you’ll face for a wedding — a black bow tie is worn with a dinner jacket. For women, it’s customary to wear floor-length gowns, but in this day and age, exceptions can be made. If you don’t own a gown and don’t particularly want to buy one for a one-off occasion, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear a cocktail dress you already have. However, if you do go this route, just make sure to keep the colors rich so as not to look too casual.

For “black tie optional,” men have the option of wearing a tux or a suit and, for women, it means you have the option of wearing a full-length gown or a cocktail gown, so long as the hemline isn’t too high (no more than one to two inches above the knee), the material isn’t too glittery, and the style isn’t too revealing. Another other acceptable choice for black-tie affairs: chic separates, such as a silk blouse with a full satin skirt.

Under no circumstances should you wear white, or even off-white, to a wedding. Remember, the bride is the star and you don’t want to appear to be trying to take away any of her shine, even unintentionally.

A footwear tip for outdoor weddings: bring flip-flops or wedges or flats that you can change into after the ceremony when you want to ditch the stilettos for dancing, especially if you’re going to be on a lawn or on the beach.

While both involve dancing, weddings and a night out at the club are different kinds of affairs, and your attire should reflect that. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you’re trying on something you’re thinking of wearing to your friend’s wedding and are asking yourself whether it’s too short or too tight or just … too much … it probably is. So do the bride — and yourself — a favor and pull together an outfit that makes you look good but also says you have class!


Spring Cleaning – Part Two

You read our previous blog about taking a little time to do Spring cleaning in your closet.  Now what?  What do you do when you have clothes you no longer want that are still wearable?    

If you think your garments are in good enough condition to be resold, you might consider donating them to organizations such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, both of which operate retail stores in the Washington area and are nonprofit and tax-exempt.  That means a tax deduction for you, in addition to the satisfaction of having helped someone in need.

There are also organizations that specifically request gently worn business attire so they can outfit women and men who are looking for work and need interview-appropriate clothing. The mission of Dress for Success is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Career Gear has a slogan that says it all: “A Suit – A Second Chance.” It provides professional clothing, mentoring and life-skills to help men in poverty become stronger contributors to their families and communities. Pick Up Please focuses it work on veterans. Wouldn’t it feel good to know that what you no longer need is helping veterans, homeless or long-term unemployed or returning citizens re-set their life?

You can always host a clothing swap get-together. Invite fashionista friends to bring the garments they’re ready to part with and get the party started while everyone exchanges clothes.

If you’re set on making a buck, Google ‘online consignment shops’ and sell your castoffs online. Remember, one persons trash is another persons treasure!

We’re always happy to help you figure out what to do with the garments you think are done.

Bike To Work

The New Normal in DC

May is National Bike Month and Friday, May 20, is Bike to Work Day.  Biking to work has quickly become the new normal in DC, so how do you pull off biking to work and still looking like you’re actually dressed for work?

You basically have two choices:  ride in your work clothes or change when you get there.  We realize that packing up a suit and changing at work isn’t necessarily a feasible option for everyone everyday, so we’ve compiled some tips to make biking in your suit a seamless part of your day. 

One school of thought says that you don’t need to wear anything special to bike to work.  Just put on a helmet and go.  If you do that, be prepared for a sweaty back, some popped seams, and a worn-out crotch in your pants. Biking in a suit is possible, but you have to know the materials, designs, and alterations to invest in to make it work.

Since you can’t show up in spandex suit, you’ll need a suit that has some stretch to it, minimizes perspiration, and doesn’t wrinkle. One of our newer clients, Jide, introduced us to one brand, Alain Dupetit, that actually focuses on designing suits that look perfectly work appropriate but can endure the sweat and wrinkles that biking is sure to cause.

As for our female riders, there are now yoga pants that look just like a pair of work slacks. A number of companies have begun manufacturing these, and we see them as a life-saver for any lady that is constantly on the go while on the clock. 

In addition to the proper attire, there a few things you can do to make sure you don’t ruin any of your clothing while biking to work. For starters, make sure your pant leg is protected from your bike chain (dark pants are best) by rolling it up and wrapping a rubber band around it. To prevent the crotch of your pants from quickly wearing out, ask your tailor to add a crotch liner up front. Also, ask them to triple stitch high-stress points on your suit to minimize ripped seams. Lastly, you should ask your tailor to save the extra fabric from your pants hem so that when the crotch wears out, you can replace the damaged area with a gusset and Voila! You’re on the road again.

Whether you bike to work in a suit or athletic clothes, you should also wear some kind of bright, reflective garment as well.  Purchase a vest and/or reflective leg/arm bands which you can easily take off once you’re at the office.  They will come in handy on overcast days or if you find a meeting keeps you at the office longer than you had planned and it’s beginning to get dark as you mount your trusty steed.

Remember the goal is to stay safe on the road and look good at work, and let’s face it, there is something oddly sexy about riding your bike in a suit.

Spring Cleaning

Spring has finally sprung!  Not just on the calendar, but in terms of the actual weather.  With it, come thoughts of Spring cleaning.  And it’s not just your house that might need some attention now that the long, dark, cold days have departed.  

As you shed your Winter clothes, think about the state of your Spring ones.  And instead of  running right out for a Spring shopping fling, hit the pause button for just a minute.  Before you re-stock, take stock:  Pull out your Spring wardrobe and see what still fits, what you still like and what might need to be repaired, altered or even discarded.   Did you lose or gain weight over the Winter?  Maybe some clothes needs to be let out or taken in.

Think, too, about your current personal style.  Are your clothes out of style – not according to the fashion trendsetters,  but according to where you are in your life?  Are the outfits you wore over the past few years still age appropriate?  Do you have some garments that are showing their age?  

There are good reasons for throwing clothes out.  Perhaps the fabric on some of your old favorites has become too worn to wear anywhere other than around the house.  But maybe your garments can be made new with just some minor changes.  If you don’t feel good about certain outfits, come into the shop to see why and what we can do to make you fall in love again with your sartorial besties.

If you have a dress that you like but are just tired of wearing, we can take the dress apart and make a nice top out of it.  Voila – new top!  Depending upon how the dress is made, it might even be possible to transform it into a top and skirt or top and shorts.  Even something as small as changing the buttons on a man’s suit jacket can transform it into a sport coat if the pants are no longer viable.

Remember, take stock, then restock.  Happy Spring!

Egg-cited About Easter?

Peter Cottontail has already been spotted hopping down the bunny trail towards Cheryl Lofton’s tailor shop in Washington, DC, and is slated to arrive by Easter Sunday, March 27.

Some of you will be dressing for a religious/cultural observance during the last few days of the month, others for playtime on Easter Monday. Either way, you don’t want your outfit to lay an egg. If you feel inclined to go out and buy a new outfit, more power to you. Just remember, you don’t have to. Easter is usually thought of as a season of renewal, and if you come into the shop in the next couple days, we can still help you resurrect some clothes you already have that may just need a little touch-up.

The uber-colorful White House Easter Egg roll will be held on Monday, March 28. And, while it’s too late to enter the lottery for a ticket for this year — the lottery is only open for a few days in February — there’s always next year. But it’s not too late to get in on the free fun at the National Zoo on Easter Monday. They’ll have special family-focused activities and live entertainment, as well as a traditional Easter Egg Hunt with prizes for participants. And you can expect a visit from the Easter Panda. It’s a rain-or-shine event. (For details on activities and security, go to nationalzoo.si.edu/ActivitiesAndEvents/Celebrations/Easter/. )

We wish you a Happy Purim, Happy Easter, Happy whatever your holiday may be. Here’s hoping that you make time to relax, renew, and repeat. While wearing a cute outfit.

Power of The Perfect Fit

You know how absolutely fabulous you feel when you try on a dress or a suit, or even a pair of jeans, and you just know they fit perfectly ? You’re confident and feel powerful – as if you could take on any situation and win – when you know you look great, right?

If only that happened every time you went shopping! But it doesn’t. Because clothes that come off the rack are made to fit a “standard” body type … which doesn’t really exist. There are too many human beings who are shaped in too many ways for one garment to fit everyone — even those who wear the same size. 

So how can you get the look of the folks you see on TV or on the red carpet whose clothes seem made for them? Well, sometimes, like for red carpet events, the ensembles have been custom made. But, more often, folks in the public eye have simply had their clothes tailored so that they show their bodies at their best. They’ve bought quality garments and then taken them to a quality tailor. Anything can be tailored — even jeans and tee shirts — if they don’t fit the way you’d like.

Many of our clients have told us how much better they feel when their clothes actually fit. Even some of the fashionistas who help you at the front counter have said that they only really came to appreciate the importance of a good fit once they began working here. And we admit it: we’re definitely, and happily, guilty of contributing to an increase in the number of alteration junkies in the DMV.

Everyone, from the administrative assistant to the CEO, should tailor their clothes because a well-fitted wardrobe just makes everything, well, better. Your clothes look better, you feel better in them and that shows in the way you carry yourself, giving you an edge in the workplace. And in life.

You’ve heard of power lunches and maybe even tried power walking. Now, think about the power of the perfect fit. A power that you possess … if you choose to use it.

Why Do You Need A Tailor?

A Brief Revelation From Our Assistant, Sydney Green

Before I worked for Cheryl A. Lofton & Associates, I thought some people just weren’t meant to wear suits. I had been living in the district for nearly 5 years and would see men and women bustling through the city in either baggy or hip-hugging-panty-line-revealing suits. This prompted me to seriously believe that one must have a “suit body” in order to look even semi-decent in a suit.

What is a “suit body”? Well, after working here for about six months, I’ve learned that there is no “suit body”, and any human body can look good in a suit. The problem is that so many people, men and women, are actively wearing suits that do not fit them. I don’t know if this is because so many people just don’t own full-length mirrors, or if it’s because people really just don’t know how a suit should fit. Although I didn’t have the knowledge to pinpoint exactly why a person may have looked awful in their suit, I could always tell that something wasn’t quite right.

Moral of the story is, if you have a human body, you more than likely need a tailor to help make some of your garments, especially your suits, work for you. Whether you’re a young professional in DC diving into “work-wear” for the first time, or the hiring manager who just interviewed said young professional, please don’t hesitate to stop by our shop and learn about the ways your wardrobe could benefit from a visit to a good tailor.

The Original Jean Hem Hype

There’s a new hem in town. Jean connoisseurs everywhere are running to their local tailor shop in search of the “Original Hem.”

origBut why? What’s the big deal about keeping the original hem on the bottom of a pair of jeans? It cost more than just a regular jean hem. I’ve been hemming jeans for a very long time and until recently, it’s, never really been an important technique in the tailoring world like it is now. Well if you want to know something then you need to ask and that’s exactly what I did. I ask every one of my clients who requested an original hem, why they wanted it. Well it turns out that now days people resale their jeans when their done with them and they want to preserve the integrity and the value of the jeans. Well here is my tailors take on that. Once you alter anything, its resale value goes down because, like a used car, it’s not new anymore.

Many people think that the value in keeping an original hem normalis that you don’t have to cut it like you do a regular jean hem. Well that’s not all together true. If you’re having your jeans shortened anymore than an inch and a half, they’ll need to be cut to relieve the bulkiness of excess fabric turned up underneath the new hem length. Wearing them with all that bulk turned up can look really weird. So weird that people won’t even notice your original hem that you paid extra for. I am often ask, why does it cost more and the simple answer is that its more work than just cutting and replacing a regular jean hem. It’s twice the stitching on the machine and often times there’s some hand stitching involved as well. Sadly, I realize that jean connoisseurs are paying upwards of $250.00 per pair of jeans these days and so I totally understand why you want to preserve them for resale and so I welcome the new original hem with open arms but the regular jean hem is a viable option for those just want a plain old pair of jeans.

Are You Depleted By Your Pants?

Stop! Hammer time. (If you don’t immediately get the reference, Google MC Hammer before proceeding. All others, keep calm and carry on reading.)

Yes, it was Hammer time — with its attendant baggy pants — back in 1990, but if you’re heading into 2016 with the rest of us then it’s time to simply stop. Stop with the pleats which give your pants a puffy look that tends to be dated and is unflattering on most people.

Can you get rid of the pleats if you really like the pants and want to keep them? The answer is a resounding yes, if you have a good tailor. (Hint: We know where you can find one!) The process involves remaking the pockets, shortening the rise a little and, since almost all pleated pants come with full legs, possibly tapering the legs. It’s somewhat complicated – and somewhat pricey – but an experienced tailor can give you a flat front (on your pants, that is; only the gym can help give you a flat tummy). pleated

The question is whether it’s worth it to you to spend the money. If you have a lot invested in a suit or a pair of slacks, it may make sense for you to spring for the cost of getting rid of the pleats. If not, perhaps you should simply clear the pleated pants out of your closet — where they’re simply taking up space — and make room for new ones.

If you’re a person who has very muscular thighs, removing the pleats from pants you already own could be the way to add flat front pants to your wardrobe since many off-the-rack flat fronts are made for people with what the fashion industry considers average thighs.

We offer this alteration at our shop and you are welcome to make an appointment for a consultation with our head tailor, who can help you decide whether to de-pleat or not. Or, if you prefer, simply wait until the phone rings one day and it’s a call from 1990 (or from MC Hammer himself) … asking that you send the baggy pants back.

Step Outside The Box

We’ve all heard that we should “think outside the box” when it comes to ideas

nottapered and brainstorming, especially at work. But did you know that the same thing is true when it comes to how your clothes fit?

Whether you’re a man or a woman, a “boxy” look is not flattering. The sack is most decidedly not back — thank goodness! A tapered jacket, one that is made so that it comes in at the waist, gives women more of the illusion of the hourglass figure that most long for. On men, tapering from the shoulder to the waist creates an awesome “V” effect that makes the shoulders look broad. And what man doesn’t want that?

taperedUnlike a garment with a vertical line from the armpit straight down to the waist, a well-tailored jacket, whether part of a suit or on its own, practically screams “well-dressed” from 50 feet away. Garments bought off the rack may be of good quality, but, because they are mass produced, rather than having been made specifically for your body, they generally are not well tapered. One size simply does not fit all, especially when it comes to jackets (or even shirts).

Think silhouette: Ask your tailor to cinch your jacket in a bit, gradually removing fabric from just below the arm down to your waistline, and see what a difference a little nip here and a tuck there will make in how your garments look, and how you feel when you wear them. Let tapering work for you. Become the one who gets the admiring glances because you are wearing your clothes well, rather than simply walking around with your clothes hanging on you.

Pencil Me In

They’re definitely back! Narrow pencil skirts. And they’re flattering to a variety of body types — as long as they fit well and are coordinated with the proper top and shoes.

New skirts not in your budget this winter? Then you may want to consider converting some wider skirts that you already have into the pencil shape. A consultation with your tailor can quickly help you figure out which ones would work well — or not at all.

The length of a pencil skirt should be determined by the way you intend to use it. Is it part of your work wardrobe? Then just below the knee, when standing, is probably an appropriate length unless you work in the arts or in another very fashion-forward industry. Be sure to sit in your skirt, after it has been pinned for shortening and before it has actually been hemmed, to see whether you are comfortable with the place where the skirt hits you when seated, especially if your legs and knees are likely to be visible during meetings with colleagues and clients. Remember, no one ever whispered furtively to their coworker after a meeting, “Gee! Did you see how long her skirt was?”

If you choose a short-short look for your pencil skirt — for the club or just hanging out — pairing it with some cute flats, rather than stilettos (which make your skirt look even shorter), can be a good look. The holidays are nearly upon us, but let’s leave the “ho, ho, ho-ing” to Santa, shall we?

And remember, if you never mastered the art of bending at the knees, rather than the waist, to pick up something you may have dropped, now is the time. The song says, “Let It Snow,” not “Let It Show”!

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