Let’s face it, transgender women often experience a difficult time finding clothes that fit perfectly. (But then, doesn’t every woman?!?). For example, my particular problems are:
- I usually need plus-sized blouses to enable fit around my chest and shoulders, but then the blouses generally appear unflatteringly wide around my waist.
- While I usually buy dresses that flair to diminish my lack of hips, I’ve at least one dress with too much “definition” in the fabric such that actual hips need to fill the space for it to look right.
- At least one of my dresses expected a larger breast size than I possess.
To solve all three cases I’ll regularly hire a tailor rather than waste my time looking for perfection at the item’s point of initial sale.
This of course requires some experience (and common sense) to know what can be altered to suit your needs. I can’t tell you how to gain this experience except through taking risks and making mistakes (I generally buy at Goodwill so I’m only out a few bucks if the item can’t be altered to meet my requirements). Your tailor will describe to you why a request will or will not be achievable and you will learn from those discussions.
You may not even know what needs to be accomplished to improve a (mostly fitting) outfit. But your tailor will employ their experience to gain the best result for your body.
Here is the most important thing a transwoman must look for when seeking a tailor:
Are they trans-friendly? If you have a penile bulge under your panties it might show while they are working with you to specify the correct fit. They must be cool with that possibility!
But money talks—and therefore I’ve experienced no problems.
I also recommend tipping your tailor. Not sure if that’s customary, but I do it anyway.
The most important thing I want to impress upon you: A good tailor will make a mediocre outfit stunning on you! Found this vital in my business life.
I interviewed my tailor, Karla Vega of Vista, California, for tips on how to find a good one. Here is what she told me:
Know the difference between a “seamstress” and “tailor”. Seamstresses make dresses from scratch, tailors alter and repair clothes.
Tailoring works successfully when you begin with clothes that are too big rather than too small, for obvious reasons. So buy one size up if you anticipate the need for tailoring of an item. I asked if certain parts of an item, such as a dress, proved more challenging then others to alter, and she said no. My experience confirms this as she has successfully altered the bust areas, hips, or the waist of the items I bring her as required.
Learn your body type, e.g. “pear”, so you increase your shopping prowess.
Understand that knowing how to sew does not make you a tailor. The warned of clothing swap meets where an amateur sets up an alteration table for the event and sells “tailoring” services. Her advice is too look for someone who makes tailoring their business. I asked about places like Nordstrom that offer tailoring services and she said they are just fine.