Winter work: Mina + Olya sculpted dress + wooden details

green wool and wood3
Sculpted wool dress thanks to Mina + Olya (DIY altered), thrifted silk blouse, Burberry coat, YSL heels (similar)
Vintage Hermes belt thanks to LXR & Co (invite link, use EXPET20FAN for a $20 credit), Goyard Marquises tote

A few months back, I was reading Krystal's blog and saw several features on San Francisco-based designers Mina + Olya. Curious, I hopped on over to their site and ended up spending a large chunk of time reading about their story and perusing the collections.

Mina and Olya are two friends who left their financial consulting careers to start a fashion line, which is designed and made in the United States using organic and sustainable materials. Their focus on sustainability and supporting domestic affects nearly every part of the business, from fabrics down to the web designer and bank that they use. I recall reading somewhere that they were unsatisfied with the offerings available for the corporate woman, and wanted to create high-end options that were edgier yet still classic. I felt that the driving values behind M+O would resonate with many women who want something unique for work (and after work), while supporting a small businesses and other respectable causes.
green wool and wood1
As someone who also works in financial services but enjoys fashion, I really admired M+O for taking a leap of faith to do what they're passionate about. I wrote them a note expressing that and wishing them the best on their journey. I also mentioned that their line appears to be for a taller figure, and to please consider making petite proportions as well in the future (especially for items like their green wool dress). The ladies responded warmly and asked about my mailing address for a little holiday something. I assumed it was for a Christmas card, so imagine my surprise when a green wool dress showed up in my mailbox.

Swiss dot tights from Elle (similar w/ free ship) 
green wool and wood
As appreciative as I was of M+O's generosity, this dress was definitely designed for someone taller than myself. I was ready to send back their kind gift, before deciding that I loved it enough to try and do the alterations myself. I figured I could at least share this brand I admire with taller readers and those based in SF, and also show shorter ladies examples of alterations needed to adjust regular-sized garments for a petite figure.

In person, I was very impressed by the quality and attention to detail of this dress. The wool was thick, warm, and fully lined, the pleats and sculpting at the hips were secured with knotted hand stitches, and the bottom hem was shaped with a structured mesh layer. I tried to keep all of the original design elements intact and adjust only the proportions:
green wool and wood_alter
One of the biggest fashion myths is that shorter women only need a hem job with regular-sized garments. As I've learned through experience - it's a matter of overall proportions that involves attention not only to length, but also the waistline, bust placement, armholes, and more (ie. see lapel size alterations for this coat). For this dress, I raised the waistline, slightly adjusted the bust darts, slimmed the sleeves and armholes, and shortened the length and sleeves. Luckily, the shoulders of a size 2 were already a good fit. I love the end result, and envision this is how the dress would've looked off-the-rack on a taller figure.
green wool and wood4
To further accentuate the waistline, I chose a banded belt that is a new addition to my collection. I've shared before about LXR & Co (disclosure - members receive a $25 credit for invited friends who make a purchase; use code EXPET20FAN for a $20 credit), which holds daily online sales of vintage designer items. Last year, I received a gift card for something to feature in an outfit post. Despite the tempting daily eye candy, I waited for a wishlist item to come along that I'd be just as likely to purchase with my own money. It was worth the wait, as I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this belt in a recent sale. I had lost an auction many moons ago for a belt in the same style and size, due to driving into a patch of land devoid of wireless reception (gotta love Western MA). I frequently wear my Hermes belts from Nick, and wanted another option with the same clean, waist-cinching style but no logo and a thicker strap.

Hermes horsebit buckle belt w/ 32mm wide black to brown strap, sz 65, circa 1996
green wool and wood2 Since Hermes belts are frequently counterfeited, I had doubts of authenticity when bidding on auction sites. LXR&Co guarantees the authenticity and stated condition of their items, so I felt more confident going through them for a piece like this. After being duped by a Celine belt knockoff recently (via eBay), I wanted to be extra sure. I asked their customer service several questions about this belt, to which an Hermes specialist provided prompt and detailed responses.green wool and wood5 Readers - If any of you have made a purchase through LXR & Co, I would love to hear about your experiences.

85 comments:

  1. Lovely dress, thank for showing us the DIY needed to make it petite-appropriate. My seamstress is my closet's best friend! I dislike how so many dresses at the store look like I borrowed them from my mother's closet when I was 8 years old.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I still feel that the style and material is a bit overwhelming on your small frame, even with the alterations. It's a beautiful dress and you've styled it the best you could, but it still doesn't look right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually think the same. While you look gorgeous as always, the dress is a bit overwhelming on your petite frame.
      Love that Goyard

      Delete
    2. ditto above. I wonder if the heme line was a tad shorter would it help make it less overwhelming at all....

      Delete
    3. I have to respectfully disagree. I actually love the longer length. I think this is the perfect picture of sophistication for someone who works in a professional setting, but who is also interested in clothing. This is probably my favorite look to date. I am so very impressed by how Jean looks in this dress. Although I am a few years older, and probably should be able to pull off looks like this at work, I am definitely not there yet. Seeing these pictures is very inspirational for me. I realize that Jean is young, but I have noticed as I have gotten older that form-fitting or very short just does not work in the office for me. It is hard to be someone who is interested in style and who works in a formal office, but I think this dress, exactly as it fits on Jean, post-alterations, hits all the right notes.

      Delete
    4. I think it accentuate's Jean's figure and natural air of sophistication well. I have a black wool dress of my grandmother's in a similar style that I love and wear frequently to "business" settings in the winter months. To me, this silhouette is timeless and regal while still remaining office appropriate and ageless.
      It looks lovely on you, Jean! I am especially in love with the colour.

      Delete
    5. The dress itself is a sophisticated, matronly kind of style and the full shoulder certainly makes the dress appears overwhelming and keeping the hemline over the knee will look better on a taller individual to keep the dress proportioned. I think if the hemline at the knee and not over the might help the proportion. just a 2 cents. But Jean looks sophisticated as is....

      Delete
    6. I'm 5' 85lb-ish. I've analyzed clothing proportions to death in my experience with sewing and alterations.

      I think the dress looks disproportionate from:

      1. The thickness of fabric means to emulate the proportionally slim look on a tall figure, it would need to hug the petite figure more, unless bone structure of figure is super super thin.

      2. Shoulders are a smidgen too wide and too bulky (fabric).

      3. Armscye (arm hole) could be higher and it makes a huge difference. Tapered sleeves shortens the arms visually.

      4. The waist line doesn't align with natural waist and has been altered too short, particularly in the front, giving the skirt a hanging-off-the-belly look. The back of the skirt, I would suspect it to be billowy and loose.

      5. The tulip shaped hip of skirt is too wide, hence the extra room in the abdomen area. Since there aren't any side seams to the skirt, alteration could've been made on the skirt mid-front and back seams.

      6. The circumference of skirt opening at legs is too wide, even though the length right below the knee should be slimming. The extra billowy fabric on the bottom loses the slimming effect overall.

      Nevertheless, post-alteration is a dramatic improvement on the former fit!

      Delete
    7. 1. I'm not sure why you seem to think Jean or any of us care about your self righteous worthless evaluations.

      2. Jean has pointed out many times she is not a master seamstress. Save your obnoxious criticisms for someone who cares.

      Delete
    8. Wow. I'm not sure her comment warrants such reply. Jean isn't afraid to experiment with different styles and I applaud her for it, but obviously from time to time, there would be outfits that some simply love and others don't.

      I think the original design tried to do too much, with the neckline, longer hem and sleeves and the tulip shape. The look however, had grown on me, because she styled it well and it looks perfect with the coat on.

      Delete
    9. I actually appreciate Sewer Anon from above who clearly articulated why the dress might feel sort of off to some. However, I am also the Anon from above who defended the longer length. It helps to read comments from those with experience in sewing. Initially, i thought the higher waist was a brilliant idea, because it makes Jean;s legs look so long in proportion to the rest of her body. It is really nice to hear feedback from someone who sews. Especially the point on tapering the arms. This just helps me even further in taking a discerning eye to garments i already own or am considering. All of the feedback is good. I still do stand by my statement that this has been my favorite of all of Jeans posts to date, and i think it is such a sophisticated work look.

      Delete
    10. Anon who commented with sewing/fitting dissection here.

      Unless I'm blind, I don't see anywhere in my post "criticizing" Jean's outfit. The points I enumerated are merely from a fit perspective only, and in particular to IF and HOW a particular aspect of the dress may not be comparable to the INTENDED fit on a regular sized individual.

      I also made no claim on my superiority, just my experience searching for and altering clothes to fit my small frame.

      Last, but not least, to the ANON who mockingly criticized my post, there is no indication from Jean's post that this dress is the result of her own alterations. Heavy weight wool + lining = complex project akin to her Burberry coat alteration that was wisely left to PROFESSIONAL seamstresses.

      So on the contrary, your post is the presumptuous one. And FYI, this is a public blog with a public comments forum. Who are you to moderate??? My comment is directed to those who are curious about petite fit. And no I couldn't care less if it is less welcomed by the likes of you.

      Delete
    11. The comments section here is left open for reasons of transparency and preferably not for readers to bicker with one another. Like Steffi said, this is my personal style and there will always be looks that some like and others don't care for.

      Sewer anon - This was a self-alterations attempt and that was mentioned several times in this post. Like you noted, heavy wool and lining is complex and there were of course areas I could not perfect as an amateur.

      Mocking anon - I appreciate your intentions, but please no need to be rude.

      Delete
  3. great look! love the dress :)




    chocolatefashioncoffee.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. you're gorgeous, the dress color is fab and those tights are awesome!
    sequinsandpolkadots.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. LOVE! this is such a gorgeous color and the details you added work fabulously.

    xoxoo
    Diana

    ReplyDelete
  6. What do you do to your hair to make it so voluminous? Can you share your hair care and styling routine?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seconded. I'd love a hair and makeup routine post.

      Delete
  7. What a unique dress! It has sort of a vintage 1940's vibe. I can't believe you were able to alter the dress yourself!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love this dress on you Jean! Props for the amazing alteration job.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Amazing alterations job, did you do yourself?

    ReplyDelete
  10. i like the alterations you did on the dress. it is different from your typical dress and it's nice to see that. i also appreciate that M + O's pieces are unique and environmental friendly. you look professional yet very fashionable. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  11. You are really amazing at alterations! It's not my type of dress but you really did such a great job sizing it.
    FashionEdible Blog

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love your alteration job!!! How did you manage to raise the waist line and adjust the darts with a thick material like wool? I'm just starting with sewing - inspired by you! I'd appreciate if you can post some pictures of the "insides" of this dress.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautiful dress!! <3
    Love how you made it fit!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Gorgeous as usual!!! You are so cool.

    ReplyDelete
  15. you did an amazing job with this dress!! completely worth the effort, you look stunning. and i'm happy to see that goyard out and about! i've never bought from that site. i had a huge obsession with those sample-sale type sites for a while, but find that it just takes too much time and effort to check them.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Jean, you have wonderful style. This teal dress is gorgeous. Your hair is also gorgeous. I like the outfit as a whole, and the chunky wooden heels on these pumps doesn't hurt the outfit.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jean you look beautiful in this dress. The architecture is something that I would definitely shy away from, but with your alterations it looks perfect and genuine on you.

    I actually just read your post like 2 days ago about the alterations you had done on this coat. It came at a fitting time because yesterday I thrifted a Burberry jacket for $8. It's not a trench/peacoat, but I'm really excited about. I think I'm going to try to get it taken in just a tiny bit on the sides so hopefully the place I get alterations will do that!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I *did* buy a Chanel chain belt from LX&R, my overall experience was good, it took a while for the belt to get to me, but the condition was excellent. I do not suspect it is a knock-off, as the craftmanship of the belt very much jives with other Chanel items I've purchased from Chanel itself. I notice that their sample sales don't have tremendous variety, which I actually consider a good thing as there are not a million and one things for sale, which would make me wonder how they get so many wares of the same thing every week.
    I must say though I notice the same things over and over on these sample sale websites (Portero, Madison Avenue Couture, etc.), and I find that Chanel, Hermes, and LV are now way overpriced online. I know the idea behind a vintage luxury item is that it has a story behind it, but it used to be that used items were cheaper than what is in the stores--notsomuch, in my humble opinion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. agree with you. waaay overpriced. The whole point of vintage was the unique and recycled factor, but nowadays its just like Maistreem luxury. I guess if there are people willing to pay...

      Delete
  19. You look stunning! Glad you didn't mail it back :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. You look so chic, love the wooden heels.

    xo
    http://pinksole.com

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi, Jean -- apologies for being off-topic but I wanted to alert you that someone's using your image to sell the Ann Taylor lace dress.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Gorgeous-Ann-Taylor-Vintage-Floral-Lace-Crochet-Sheath-Dress-/181084936865

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rosie - thank you for letting me know!

      Delete
  22. it looks beautiful. such a classic winter look, especially with the coat.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You did such an amazing job with the dress alterations! Looks great, I love how you layered a blouse underneath for the collar detail.

    xoxo,
    Suzie Q
    www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. Replies
    1. I know, I really want to get those gorgeous waves!

      Delete
    2. I followed these easy steps http://www.extrapetite.com/2011/03/current-hair-curling-routine-easy-loose.html

      Delete
  25. I think it's gorgeous on you!

    ww.dcstyleboard.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thank you so much, Jean! We really appreciate the post! You look fabulous and nice job on the alterations! Best, Mina+Olya

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with Jean, please start a petites line! I checked out your website, and that Kelly dress for spring 2013 would look great on a petite woman. The shorts and tops, the Bianca pant, maybe even the Margo dress! We petites want to be chic, too <3

      Delete
  27. Hello Jean,

    I think the dress is a beautiful color, however there's something a bit off about it.

    I'm unsure if it's the posture or the camera angle, but the shoulders look a tad wide.

    The dress overall comes off as a bit matronly. Beautiful, but aging on someone as young as you. In my personal opinion, a scoop neck or lower neckline for the dress would have been more flattering and younger looking. Or perhaps, 3/4 sleeves.

    ReplyDelete
  28. i LOVE the shape of this dress. glad to see your alterations did not change the design elements! it is such a unique piece! great job on the alterations!

    xoxo, jenn
    the stylish housewife

    ReplyDelete
  29. Amazing DIY on the dress! Taking the waist up with that pattern looks like a lot of work! You look lovely and love how you styled it with the collared shirt!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Have you seen their Kelly dress for Spring 2013? AMAZING!! Still, if I could do the alterations myself it'd be one thing, but paying $700 for a dress and then another $200 in alterations is a bit much

    ReplyDelete
  31. The dress looks really fantastic on you! I love the retro-sophisticated vibe of the dress and how you styled it. Very classic and lady-like.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I LOVE the sculpting and am pinning this for inspiration :) Your alterations skills always amaze me and I keep waiting for you to apply your talents to from-scratch projects because I know they'd be fantastic. Maybe someday? :D

    ReplyDelete
  33. You did such a good job altering it, and it looks great on you.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I love everything about this outfit!!

    ReplyDelete
  35. this outfit is so beautiful and ladylike! xo

    http://allthingsprettyandlittle.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  36. So glad you decided to do the alterations! You look very beautiful, elegance personified. I like the ethos of the company as well! It my new shopping mantra : ethical shopping, every purchase we make should be a positive contribution to society as a whole....

    ReplyDelete
  37. I love this! Also, your blog has encouraged me to take more things to my tailor and accept that I need to have well-fitting clothes if I want to get the maximum out of what I've bought! Petite for the win

    ReplyDelete
  38. Love, love, love this look on you! I love the color, the material, and the structure of the dress. Your alterations really made a difference, and you styled the dress perfectly. This look is a little more mature and structured than what you usually wear, but I think it is fantastic. Because you are so slim, you can pull off the detailing at the hip.

    I hope the naysayers don't discourage you. This is a beautiful dress that can serve you well for years to come. As always, thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I do agree with a few others above. The dress looks a little overwhelming on you. I like your DYI idea and I think you've styled it really well, but overall, it's not your best bet.,

    ReplyDelete
  40. Beautiful look and kudos on your alterations skills. The shoulder is strong but not overwhelming as others have mentioned. The style of the dress is very structured and although it's not your normal style, it's appropriate for the fabric and current weather. Adding the silk blouse and belt is perfection for the look. Great job on keeping the design element intact, including not going too short. You look elegant and beautiful Jean.

    ReplyDelete
  41. i love this dress and how you maintained the design of it, while altering to fit your frame. the colour is gorgeous too!

    xox P

    ReplyDelete
  42. Your hair looks gorg in these photos and of course the shoes are quite fab!

    ReplyDelete
  43. If you like M+O, check out Dobbin (dobbinclothing.com)! I received the black Juliet ponte dress from Dobbin for Christmas, and I've worn it once a week since. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Gorgeous dress! It looks great after alterations. I love how you layered a collared shirt underneath; really makes the outfit a bit more edgy. I agree with M&O's assessment that there is a dearth of edgy/trendy but still appropriate workwear out there!

    ReplyDelete
  45. You look so great in that dress! I love it! It's so chic and modern *__* Did you happen to document your alterations on it?

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi Jean,
    since you like DIY, here's a make your own leather belt tutorial you might be interested in. You get a good belt without the eye watering price
    http://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice/comments/k6uro/how_to_make_a_100_belt_on_the_cheap/

    ReplyDelete
  47. Your alterations on this dress are amazing! I love the color and the final fit. The wooden detail on the heels is so chic too.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Love the color of the dress! The coat really enhances the whole outfit. You're so talented!

    Christy
    Sunnywithasideof...

    ReplyDelete
  49. Amazing alterations as usual, Jean! I love how little touches make such a dramatic difference to the fit of a dress :) Sounds like such a great company too! Glad to see that the Goyard is getting some love again.

    I did buy a pair of Chanel earrings (thanks to the $20 off code) but ended up returning them as I didn't like them as much in person. Their customer service was prompt and courteous, which I very much appreciated!

    L&F,
    KC

    www.lifeinpetite.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  50. You never cease to amaze me with the alterations you can do! Love the luxurious color and texture of the wool!

    ReplyDelete
  51. love the sophisticated look. props for doing all the alterations! it should be a keeper!

    ReplyDelete
  52. You're just SO GOOD at what you do, it doesn't cease to amaze me !!
    How I wish I knew how to sew like you do !

    The look is flaweless and you're rocking it, wow !!! This coat, omg... *_*

    xx Agathe
    www.l-iconoclaste.net
    mon vide-dressing

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hi Jean. I love the story behind M+O. So inspiring! The dress is so classic and chic... it's def a good investment piece to have living in Boston with those cold winter months!

    Love, Youa

    ReplyDelete
  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  55. love the boots :) currently in love with pumps with chunky heels :)

    http://adventureinheels.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  56. The swiss dot tights are such a great touch with that outfit!

    ReplyDelete
  57. This look is so chic and sophisticated, love it!

    ReplyDelete
  58. I love your hair! Can you wrote a post on how to to make that look? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Great dress!

    Kate xo petite-adventures.blogspot.ca

    ReplyDelete
  60. I've never purchased from LXR & Co but I will have to check them out now. And I absolutely love how that dress turned out!

    ReplyDelete
  61. actually amusing that you now have some sewing experts arguing over your blog! It is a compliment in a way since it takes things to a new level. The hip roll on the dress is tough for a petite figure (like a large print or a voluminous swing skirt) but it would be tough for some other figures too. It looks nice. It does make me think about lines where the petite version of something is different- 3/4 instead of long sleeves, or a flare instead of a pleated skirt. Sometimes that annoys me but other times I think it is just smarter. Not sure if this dress "totally designed for a petite from square one" would have moved the hip feature a smidgen or adjusted the neckline a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Um, I wish I knew half as much about how to sew as you do. Ridic! I think it's an amazing look and if you need to look particularly polished, this is the way to go. Brava!

    ReplyDelete

 
Pin It button on image hover