Dressing Your Worth

On Monday I went to the tailor and dropped off a pair of jeans to hem and three dresses to alter. This is one of those bothersome tasks I put off without a valid reason, at least not valid in retrospect. I’m saving time and money. This is what runs through my head when I put on super high heels so my jeans don’t drag; when I fasten a safety pin to pull together a dress cut too low; when my palm skims my shoulder to discretely pull up a sagging shoulder.

I don’t have time to drive to my tailor or wait days for him to hem or alter my clothing. I don’t want to spend additional money on clothing. If I paid full price, I’m increasing the cost per wear. If I paid sale price, I’m spending the money I saved.

I save time and money, but I look like the girl on Main street today, teetering her way to the heath food store on heels far too high to be comfortable. By chance I ended up behind her in line. The hems of her pants covered her feet like teapot cozies. She was an apparition, a woman without feet sweeping the floor with the edge of her jeans as she bagged her quinoa.

She looked sloppy, which means I look sloppy. I realized, as I watched her give her pants a final hitch before walking out the door, that dragging hems, drooping necklines, and sagging shoulders are the chipped quarter round of the fashion world. There is shabby that is intentional, and there is shabby that says you don’t feel you are worth an $8 hem.

I’m worth $8, aren’t you? Actually, I’m worth $50. That’s what I spent to hem my jeans and alter the shoulders and necklines of two dresses, and the shoulder, neckline, waist, skirt and hem of the third dress. We’ll see how they turn out later this evening.

If you are handy with a sewing machine, you can hem your own pants. This tutorial makes it look so easy, I might have to give it a try. Heaven knows those jeans weren’t the only pants in my closet that need hemming.


Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Oh so true. I’ve been meaning to take some good quality bootcut/flare jeans to the tailor to turn them into straight legs so I quit flapping about town, but no. I can’t even get myself to use my fusible hemming strips to fix a few fallen hems. I keep using scotch tape. And I keep getting embarrassed when said tape ends up on the toe of my shoe. My laziness is making me look bad.

    I’ll bet the seamstresses and tailors out there must do a lot of cringing as they go out and about!

    PS- Loving how highlighting and rolling over buttons = pink! Fun touch!

  2. says

    Let me tell you that you should hold your tailor close and his prices even closer! $50 to hem/alter four pieces? Girl, that is a steal.

    I am handy with a sewing machine and STILL have a pile of mendable clothing that hasn’t been addressed for YEARS.

    • says

      I know. His prices are insane. That’s not his shop, though. It’s another one closer to me. His shop is even more sketchy looking. My mom found him years ago. (Of course.)

  3. says

    Jules, I used to ALWAYS put off, or not do, necessary alterations for the exact same reasons. But the first time I did (on a pair of $175 jeans that I spent another $45 to hem and have the waist taken in), it made such a difference that I now routinely head straight from the dressing room/cashier to the tailor. Yes, it, and you, are worth it.

  4. says

    This post really resonates with me as I recently realized I had a beloved shirt in my closet that I hadn’t worn for THREE years because the hem had come undone and I needed to fix it/get it fixed. Three years! Last week I bit the bullet and took it to a tailor who sewed it up for $5, and now I’m wearing it today and marveling over how much I love this shirt. I think the reason I hadn’t taken care of this was because I *could have fixed it but didn’t want to. Finally paying someone else to deal with it? Priceless. I am totally worth it.

  5. says

    I learned how to hem jeans/pants the way your link showed about a year ago, and i is the EASIEST thing to do! Honestly, it’s revolutionized my world (being only 5′ 1 3/4 inches tall). Save yourself the $8 for something else and have jeans that are just the right length for nothing extra!

  6. says

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m buying less and less things these days as I insist on only having things in my closet that I truly love. That $50 increases the value ten fold when you spend it and then those neglected items become your go to duds that you truly get the monetary (and personal confiedence) worth out of.

  7. says

    Ha! I JUST forced myself to take a bag of clothes to the tailor that had been sitting in front of my closet for at least six weeks. Ridiculous! But I’m relieved to have read your post (and all these comments) and see that I’m not that only one with this problem!

  8. says

    Thanks for the reminder–in the same vein, I have a blouse that I need to exchange for a smaller size before they don’t have any left in the store. I’m putting it on my to-do list for this afternoon right now!

    I did clear off the sewing table and converted all my daughter’s boot-cut jeans to skinnies last weekend. They were all beautiful hand-me-downs that she refused to wear because they didn’t fit well into her new boots. SO glad I made the time rather than spending the same time (and more money) shopping for new jeans for a six-yr-old.

  9. Val says

    Ugh, I’m terrible about this, too! It’s because I can sew and I could totally do it myself, so paying for it makes me feel like Marie Antoinette or something. Also, being a seamstress means I’m super picky (okay, snobby) about the quality of the work. But I should just get over it and get it done because buying clothes and then not wearing them is pretty silly and extravagant, too. And showing up at my corporate office in pants that are so long that they completely cover up my four inch platforms is something I probably should have out-grown by now.

  10. Jen says

    Holy crap. You must have been reading my mind as I 1) put on my tallest heels this morning, and 2) keep hitching my pants up so my slacks don’t drag. I just need to get it done. Also these shoes could use some new heels too. Maybe the tailor and the shoe man for me. You’re right, I don’t want to look sloppy, especially at work.

  11. says

    I’ve used that tutorial and it is SUPER EASY, even if you aren’t a sewer! Good clothes are always worth it, because they make you look good longer than whatever else you would have spent that $8 on!

  12. says

    I’ve got a couple of coats that I’ve been thinking about having tailored so that they actually fit me. Imagine that. I knew it was bad when my husband was in Talbot’s with me and I tried on a jacket and his head popped up as he exclaimed, “Hey, that jacket actually looks like it fits you – not like you’re wearing a hand-me-down! Buy it.” Hmmm…

  13. says

    Yes, yes, yes you are worth $50! And a whole lot more.

    I just had a pair of pants hemmed, and am going to have the bodice of a dress refit for myself this weekend (made an appointment with the tailor and everything) so I can wear it for Thanksgiving. I’ve wanted to sew more than straight seams for three years, and have put off having any of my garments tailored because “oh, I’ll just learn to do it myself.” But I haven’t, yet. So I figure that either I’ll feel really good in my “new” clothes (because they’ll feel new), or I’ll get so irritated at spending the money that I’ll take a class in making basic alterations. :)

    I found your blog on the first day of your William Morris challenge in October — I think Rachel from Small Notebook linked me over. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing the details of your project — and your ongoing adventures — with us. My girlfriend and I took some tips from you, since we did some decorating work in the middle of the month.


  14. Shannon says

    I love that I learned to hem when I was young. It’s no big deal to spend a few minutes taking up the leg of a pant and I do it for friends and family too. I worked retail for about a year and was AMAZED at the number of people who didn’t buy something because the leg was too long. They would even leave angry that they couldn’t find something. $8 is worth your sanity every time! (and there is secret hem tape you can buy and iron into pants for a quick lift in your hem if you’re in a pinch- it costs about $2.50)

  15. says

    I finally got a pair of jeans hemmed while being inspired by your 31 days series. I’d spent $70 on this pair of super nice jeans (on clearance from Madewell), and hadn’t even worn them because they were so long, even with ridiculously high heels. One afternoon on lunch I marched myself down to a local department store, where the tailor hemmed them for $6. What a small price to pay for something beautiful and useful!

  16. says

    I do my own alterations — mainly to clothes that I get at the Goodwill. I think that your $50 is very well spent! Although, since you’re petite, you might find learning to hem a useful skill. It’s not fun, exactly, but very useful.

    On another note, I really enjoyed the 30 day project. It was really interesting and I found myself clicking over every day to see what you were up to.

    And the new blog design — love it! You do look good in pink. :)

  17. says

    As a short, plump woman, I need to have most of my work pants hemmed, but man, does it make a difference! I’m OK at a sewing machine, but the way a professional tailor can hem a pant is awesome. So worth the $12 it costs in my neck of the woods. And since I get most of my clothes at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx, they are affordable to begin with.

    Some of my friends are also on a mission to recreate styles, so they cut strips from old t-shirts and sew them onto long sleeve shirts and they look awesome.

  18. AnnW says

    Men view alterations as a right, women view them as something we don’t deserve. As a former Carlisle consultant, alterations are absolutely necessary. Decent clothes deserve to fit you properly. If you look good, you will wear your clothes until they wear out. You will decrease the cost per wearing. Ill fitting clothes is the same as wearing heels with the leather scraped off the heel. Looking decent is also a measure of respect. Would you go to the White House in a crappy outfit? Then why go to church or a relative’s wedding looking shabby. Ann

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