Ready-to-Wear Versus Made-to-Measure

How do you shop for clothes? My mother and I used to scour our local mall, Roseville Shopping Centre in Minnesota together when I was in high school. It was also an opportunity to dress up and be seen. My mom and I would spend hours together walking and looking at clothes, especially in the winter. Sometimes, we would forgo food, drink or toilet past the point of comfort, such was our fascination with fashion.
Now, the pleasure of looking and touching clothes has been replaced by a screen. A photo of a person whom you may or may not resemble in any shape, colour or form greets you in an article of clothing that may or may not suit.
Despite this, with some trial and error, I have found several online retailers whose clothes fit me well.

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My husband Justin safely bought me this size 4 dress in the US at J.Crew. Safely, because their sizing is uniform for most dresses and fit me well. Yakkay helmet, J.Crew dress and necklace, Cartier Santos, Gazelle Geneve, Geox heels, Giro gloves, Witchery sunglasses, Linus Eleanor bag. At the Heavenly Queen Buddhist Temple, Melbourne. 

After a bit of work on the bicycle and eating well, my body shape post the birth of two children is amenable to many affordable brands of ready-to-wear (r-t-w) clothing. These clothes are also referred to as prêt-à-porter in French. In Melbourne the other week, I had the pleasure of shopping in a different way.

At Sarti Tailors in Melbourne, I had my first made-to-measure (m-t-m) experience. Melbourne Crank introduced me to Celia, the owner. [See Melbourne Crank Style]

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Meeting up with Melbourne Crank for a tour of mens clothiers!

After a discussion about menswear, I was surprised to hear that Celia also offered womenswear. After another meeting, I returned to the shop to try on some of her m-t-m shirt dresses.

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We all have to engage the core from time to time, especially for photos.

M-t-m is created from a standard-sized base and an individual’s measurements are taken to alter a base pattern to match. She had several sample dresses to try on in the shop. She said that they would be a little small but I knew that they would give me some idea. The dresses were unexpectedly sexy and totally appropriate for work.

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A bit short (and small on me) for the office and the bicycle but a lovely nonetheless.

Menswear-inspired womenswear can often work well. Remember Carrie wearing one of Mr. Big’s shirts home belted one evening? I tried on a long shirt which was inspired by men’s evening dress and it was a knockout. Celia had said that it should be worn with leggings.

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Leggings? No leggings? Walking or riding around in public? Hmm..

When I went to show her how beautiful it was, she immediately shooed me away from sight of the windows. If it were a little longer, I think it could work as a great dress. The details on both were beautiful. Collars and cuffs were stiffly elegant which suited the design of each.

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I’m a big fan of cufflinks but not so much of ironing. I believe that many more men iron their own shirts these days.

I decided to purchase the first dress in the same pattern. It required measurements of my bust, waist and hips which Celia did simply and efficiently. We discussed lengthening the hem a little and moving the belt to my waist as opposed to the hips for a more flattering fit. I’m looking forward to it being ready for me in January.

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We decided to give me a bit more breathing room around the hips and bust, especially.

Another difference with m-t-m garments is that they take longer to make and are slightly more expensive than r-t-w. The dress will be very special because it will have been made to my measurements and specifications. It will be interesting to see how the dress will fit in January because I plan to lose the extra kilos that I gained over the winter. Another three more to go and I’ll be back at bikini weight.
And then it was time to bicycle to Spokes and catch my flight back to Sydney.
Happy Cycling!
X Sarah

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