An Unusual Alteration - Burberry, Part 3 - Black Wool Cashmere Coat

Can you spot the difference between the two pics?

Before --> After

We've all had hems shortened and waists taken in, but what about ... a lapel job? As many petites know, the key to a perfect fit is not just length and width. The key is the proportions. Clearly this rule of thumb was something that I overlooked when I acquired this coat in the cold early months of 2008.

I had been hunting for a basic black wool coat for a while, even before I started working. When I saw this coat, I immediately fell in love with the heavenly soft cashmere blend, the cuffed sleeves, and the waist-cinching self belt. So thus I somehow overlooked the floppy oversized collar. After wearing it just twice, several friends commented on the collar, and I slowly realized myself how silly I looked. To give you an idea of how big it was, the collar measured nearly 18 inches across (my shoulder width is only 14 inches). Thus, the coat was sadly put into storage for a year.

Last month, I randomly thought to take the coat to my tailors to see what they can do. Oh no, they said, this is a HUGE job. The collar and the coat itself was one piece, therefore, in order to alter the lapel, they would have to detatch coat from lining via the white piping (shown below) and re-shape the collar with no pattern, then reattatch the piping.

I pleaded, offering to compensate them fairly for their time, but the response: "It's not about the money. We would not forgive ourselves if we didn't do a perfect job on this coat, therefore we cannot accept."

Next stop, back to the Burberry store. They had done the initial alteration for me - shorten sleeves (as usual, they had refused to shorten the length or narrow the sleeves, because they thought the fit was fine...grr). The entire team of tailors were called down to evaluate my unusual request. "We cannot do this," Mr. Head Tailor said, "By policy we cannot alter the design of our coats. By minimizing this collar, it would no longer be Burberry." Sigh ... (insert dramatic eye roll)! I was certainly not trying to change the design. I loved the design and wanted to keep as much of it as possible, while making it proportional to my below-5 foot frame!

Needless to say I was very sad, and was ready to put this coat up for sale. But I just couldn't bear the thought of parting with it, so I took it back one more time to my personal tailors. After much hushed whispering in Korean and a thorough inspection of the coat, they must have taken pity on me ... and agreed to work on it!

End result:

Burberry Wool Cashmere Blend Coat, Sz 2 altered to fit a petite

In addition to removing 2 inches of material along the parameter of the collar, they moved the buttons over 1 inch on the belt so that it would be tighter. Very creative. One of the tailors said it took her an entire day of work ... and I couldn't be more pleased with the results!

It's unfortunate that there is no Burberry petite coats in their US retail stores. Nordstrom's online Burberry petite selection is so limited, plus a huge part of the coat buying experience is trying on different cuts and styles in person to find out what works for you.

Rain, Rain, Go Away - Burberry, Part 2 - Black Trench Raincoat

The only upside to rainy days is that my water-resistant Burberry pieces get to come out and play. This brings me to my second Burberry coat: a single-breasted raincoat in size 2 with detachable hood and fleece warmer, acquired circa 2007 at a Burberry outlet store.

Looking back, the fit was so awful that I should have left it behind. But at the time, I knew that size 2 was the smallest size they make, and I was stubborn about "making" it fit. I think of this poor coat like a child whom has undergone many surgeries:

1. Burberry retail store shortened and narrowed the sleeves (barely), refused to do shoulders or the body.
2. Burberry retail store elongated the sleeves, having mis-pinned the first time and made them inches too short!
3. My tailor narrowed the shoulders by 1.5 inches each side, tapered the entire body of the coat, and slimmed sleeves a little more.

End result
(a little wrinkled from storage):

I like how there's many subtly different ways to wear this coat - hood on or off, collar up or down, with fleece warmer or without, belted or unbelted A-line style:

My coat had to undergo several stages of alterations because the tailors at the Burberry store often challenge or flat-out refuse my requests. For raincoats, they said they would not work on the shoulders, because all Burberry rainwear is dyed in one piece into water-resistant material, and any detatchment of individual pieces (like removing the arms from the shoulder) will cause damange to the water-resistancy. Another example - I wanted the sleeves slimmer but the Burberry tailor just kept scolding me repeatedly with "It's a coat, not a dress!" Ok...thank you for your opinion, but its my coat, so shouldn't I be able to decide?

As soon as I took the coat to my own tailor, she clucked her tongue at the poor fit and immediately started pinning away. She muttered in disapproval about how wide the shoulders were and how baggy the sleeves were. Sigh ... a good tailor is truly invaluable for us petites!

Petite Outerwear - Burberry, Part 1 - Pink / Cream Check Coat

For some ladies, it's purses. For others, its shoes. But for me, its coats. Living in the Northeast, winters can be long, cold and dreary, which is why I eventually turned to beautiful coats and winter accessories to put a smile on my face. But finding a coat that is beautiful, well-made, and perfectly petite sized can be a difficult and costly journey.

Enter Burberry, the iconic brand known for its timeless trenches and coats. Any retail-priced purchase comes with complimentary alterations done by their nimble tailors, so it's basically like getting a coat custom-fitted. Granted, pricing is steep, but for those who can afford it, it is well worth the occasional splurge. Also, be sure to sign-up for their seasonal in-store sale mailing list.

Here is my first Burberry purchase from 2006, back when I thought children's coats were my only choice. Let me just say, what a long way I've come since then! This is a kids coat, in a little girls size 12, purchased from eBay UK (photo courtesy of another eBay seller since I cannot find a pic of mine pre-alterations). Note the proportions designed obviously for children:

1. wide arms
2. small chest with roomy waist/hip area
3. short and stout overall

But the texture was rich, the colors were girly, and the lining was TDF, so I saw potential.

I took this coat to a Burberry retail store, and had the sleeves and torso area slimmed. End result:

Just look at this lining! Gorgeous roses with little "Burberry"s scripted in periwinkle:

Buying on eBay can be tricky, especially since there are usually no returns. I suggest always asking the seller for detailed measurements and comparing to your own items before buying. For this coat, I made sure that 1. the shoulders were the right width (shoulder alterations are $$$ and difficult), and 2. the sleeves were long enough since this was a kid's coat.

Alas, after I started working I ended up reselling this coat to a fellow petite. Since then I have graduated to adult sizing (more Burb posts to come), but frequently think back to this first Burberry and pray that it went to a good home!
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