Today’s interview is with a friend and fellow blogger which I’m sure many of you are familiar with – Kelly from Alterations Needed. I love reading Kelly’s blog for a few reasons – she has beautiful style, some unique and fabulous items in her closet, and writes about a topic near and dear to my heart – alterations. At 5’1, I’m a highly qualified shortie who has more than once found herself trying on cropped pants as a full length option (of course usually when some beautiful leggy Amazon ends up trying on the same pair next to me in the mirror). I was happy to have the chance to ask Kelly some questions about her style, life and of course – alterations. Enjoy meeting her!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
My name is Kelly, and I’m a personal style blogger at Alterations Needed. I’m a former biotech research associate and now spend my time tinkering with internet startups and blogging. I live in San Diego, but am originally from Los Angeles.
Can you share when you first realized that you could alter clothing for that perfect fit?
It was a slow process over many years. A friend in college took me to my first tailor to get pants hemmed, so I knew I could shorten my jeans but not much else. A few years after college, I had grown tired of my ill fitted college clothes and wanted to build a wardrobe that was chic and age appropriate. After months of fruitless shopping, it finally hit me that I was a tad shorter than what pretty much every clothing designer in the world has in mind and would need some outside help to get the wardrobe I wanted. I eventually realized I could have the closet I always wanted with the help of a tailor.
What are some clothing items that you wish you had altered that you ended up passing up/giving away/etc? What about some items that you wish you hadn’t altered?
There is one item that I really wish I had taken more thought to alter. I scored a beautifully made Rag & Bone skirt from the Barney’s Warehouse Sale (back when it was at the Santa Monica airport. I would sneak off on my lunch break and just scour the place for hours…those were the good old days!) that fit really well except it was awkwardly long on me. Instead of taking it to a professional tailor, I asked a family member to hem it as a favor. It ended up being made too short, so that the skirt now bunches up in a very unattractive way when I wear it. It should never have been made that short because it needed the weight of the fabric to help it lay correctly. It’s such a beautiful skirt that I still haven’t’ been able to get rid of it, but I can’t wear it either.
On that note – how do you decide when items are worth the alterations cost vs. not?
Oh boy…it can be complicated. There are a lot of factors, such as garment type, fabric content, detailing, brand, trendiness, complication and price of the alteration, the amount of use I think I’ll get out of it, and my overall eagerness for the item. I love blazers, so I’m willing to invest more money altering a nice blazer than I would on a blouse. Fabric and construction quality are important because I want to make sure an item holds up after I’ve spent the money altering it. For example I’ll alter J.Crew but not H&M, or I’ll alter silk but usually not polyester. Each item is assessed for its own merits and draw-backs, but the more I start spending on nicer quality pieces, the more likely they need some tweaks to get my fit right.
Can you share some of the most worn, best value-per-wear items in your closet?
I love a good pop of color, but my tried and true wardrobe items are all black. Black patent Christian Louboutin Decolletes are perfect for pretty much everything, and I have a black cotton Theory blazer that has gotten so much wear, it’s now too faded to really call black anymore. I’m considering experimenting with some RIT dye to make it true black again…eek! I also have a black patent belt from Ann Taylor that I’ve worn so much, the two leather pieces it’s made of are peeling apart. I wear my favorite items kind of hard, apparently.
What about your favorite items in your wardrobe?
My love forever items are mostly accessories. Little treasures that revealed themselves when least expected. There’s a pair of tweed Manolo Blahnik pointy toe heels that I remembered seeing online once, completely loving, but my size wasn’t available. I happened to pop into Neiman Marcus during a sale and there, on the sale rack, were my tweed Manolo’s, in my size and a beautiful fit. I remember trying to wipe the smirk off my face as I stood in the mirror, trying them on. They still make me smile.
Another treasure is my red Chanel classic flap, which was a holy grail item that I thought would take a lifetime to get my hands on. On a weekend trip to Vegas, while on our way to brunch, my boyfriend and I walked past the Chanel boutique only to see what else but the perfect little red Chanel just sitting there on the shelf. I spent the entirety of brunch freaking out over it, and on the way back to the hotel, caved and picked it up. I’m so glad I didn’t pass on it that day because I’ve yet to see a more perfect handbag.
Can you share a piece of advice about style that you’ve learned the hard way over the years?
Ladies…clothing in stores have not been made to fit you perfectly. Designers cut clothing patterns to kinda-sorta fit as many people as possible, so if you find you don’t fit an ideal size or number off the rack…that’s ok. Clothing is just fabric, take those seams in, let those seams out, sew those pockets closed, whatever you need to do to make the clothes fit you the way you want.
How about a piece of advice about budgeting for a wardrobe?
Subscribe to the emails for your favorite retailers to get notified of sales and discount codes right away. And, as long as you pay them off in full every month, retailer credit cards can get you bigger discounts and rewards you can use towards other purchases. Even if I’m buying something full-price, I try and at least get a little something out it, such as by purchasing it on a rewards points credit card. At the end of the year, I cash out my credit card rewards points for gift cards to my favorite stores.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
I realized a few years ago that I really love being able to teach people something new, which is a big reason why I’ve loved blogging so much. I started my blog with the intention of learning new things for myself, and then passing that information along to other people who might need it. It’s expanded a bit since then, but I hope it’s kept that same underlying focus today.
Finally…please share something surprising about yourself!
My hair went from naturally straight to naturally curly in one day. I had long straight hair and one day when I was 13, I went into a hair salon to get a short hair cut. Apparently my long hair was keeping the curls at bay, because as soon as it was cut off, I was left with a full head of unruly, curly hair.
I just love that last photo as a wonderful example of Kelly’s fabulous taste in bags and shoes. I know that I couldn’t make oxfords look that good! I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Kelly in person and can vouch that she looks just as fantastic in person as she does in her photos. Thank you Kelly for sharing some of your style and wisdom with us here today. For more of Kelly please visit her blog, here.