Saturday, December 30, 2023

The Right Fit!

By Tami Knight

About 25 years ago, I had started making some needed changes in how my things fit. I was also starting to blend women’s tops into my male wardrobe. I brought a couple women’s button-down shirts to a local dressmaker/tailor to improve their look. 

I had no idea how the tailor would react to a guy coming in with women’s shirts with darts that were obvious. To my surprise, Margret was happy to help. She pinned the waist just a bit, leaving the shirt bottom to accommodate my hips. Sleeves and shoulders were fine. This started a long friendship with her helping me improve almost everything I wore, while she watched my feminine presentation improve and flourish.

Besides being a very skilled dressmaker, Margret has a genuine interest in my transformation and seeing that any piece I bring her can be improved in both its fit and style. Yesterday, I picked up five skirts that needed attention. One was a simple hook and eye repair; another was sewing up the waist so the fabric would not roll. One was a very high slit over the leg that needed to be minimized. Another skirt from Joie (a 6 usually fits fine), was far too tight.  Because this skirt was so full, she was able to take a bit of fabric from the fullness of the skirt and add to it the waistband. More importantly, another A-line skirt I saw on Revolve looked great on the model, but on me, the A-line was not flattering. Margret pointed this out and insisted on narrowing the skirt to a more flattering silhouette.

I also dropped off a sleeveless dress I bought from Neiman’s on sale, so no returns. I had checked the size chart carefully and because I was not familiar with this maker, I tried to play it safe and ordered a size up. It turned out that I should have bought the 8, but Margret could easily take it in, arm hole down to the hemline, making it perfect.  

We got talking as I stood on her platform and I didn’t hear her directing me, until she raised her voice, “Turn woman!” I only visit her as Tami,and am treated like all the other women, sharing that space, mirrors and platforms as we change in and out of those pieces to be adjusted.

Don’t assume that an outfit off the rack is a good fit. Almost any dress, top or bottom, can be improved to enhance your figure.

Consider establishing a good working relationship with a tailor. Don’t expect the people at the dry cleaners to do any meaningful work beyond a hem repair. Find a skilled woman like Margret who can do just about anything and will make those large and small adjustments that really make you look great and will save you money as well. Clothes that fit look good and get worn. 

Many years ago, my wife suggested I try sewing and that my first project could be a simple nightgown. We picked out the pattern and cotton fabric together at JOANN Fabrics. 

Soon I was laying out the pattern and making my cuts which was more difficult than I thought. My first time at a sewing machine was fun, but sewing up an arm hole with a short sleeve attached is more complicated than it looks! I ended up with a mid-length gown, that was wearable, but certainly amateurish! I really learned to appreciate good tailoring and all the work that goes into it.

Source: Elie Tahari
Wearing Elie Tahari

J. Conrad Frank
J. Conrad Frank femulating on the San Francisco stage in Ruthless.


  1. Tami, How validating and wonderful to hear someone say "turn woman" that's all I would need t make my day. Below is an article I wrote about sewing and how much it played a part in my growing up. both my Mom and Aunt were seamstresses. It wasn't uncommon to have a Mom who sewed back then now it's hard to find a good seamstress like you described. When I was in Beijing a few years back you could have suits and dresses custom made at reasonable process I had a silk bathrobe made for my wife. Paula --G

  2. Rachel McNeillDecember 30, 2023

    I can't agree more. My tailor kept me looking great in boy-mode, taking my very nice (but off-the-rack) business suits and tailoring them to make me look my best for the office. I wore "the uniform" right up until I retired, long after most of my colleagues embraced the dreadful khakis & polo look for business. I always thought that casual look made one look like a sales-person at Staples or Best Buy. Nothing against those fine people, but while sitting in a conference room a couple of blocks from the White House, a suit always felt more appropriate.

    I nearly always have Rachel's better clothing tailored. Even wearing clothes that fit well, we often need more help than genetic women, having broader shoulders, narrower hips and no-backsides to speak of.

  3. J. Conrad Frank certainly looks the part of the villainous Sylvia St Croix.
    Penny from Edinburgh.

  4. My mother sewed her own dresses. She had a good friend who did alterations at a major high end department store who gave her the neck labels of that store which she sewed onto the neck of the dress. Some women, if they new it was home sewn would always find fault with her work. But, with the label, those same women thought the dress was beautiful. I use to help her with marking the hemline with a device that puffed white chalk at the desired hem height. My mother always wore a dress which is probably why I am a "dresses only" girl.

  5. what can I say, SO "savage" the union of agents may object. Sir.
    in love with Frank.