Winter work: Mina + Olya sculpted dress + wooden details

green wool and wood3

Sculpted dress c/o Mina + Olya (DIY altered), Burberry coat, YSL heels 
Vintage Hermes belt, 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 wool and wood5 Readers – If any of you have made a purchase through LXR & Co, I would love to hear about your experiences.

87 thoughts on “Winter work: Mina + Olya sculpted dress + wooden details

  • sequins from life February 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    You look so chic

  • Kathleen Lisson February 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    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.

  • Anonymous February 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    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.

  • chocolatefashioncoffee February 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    great look! love the dress 🙂

  • Shira February 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    you're gorgeous, the dress color is fab and those tights are awesome!

  • Carolines Day February 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    So polished!

  • Musings by Di February 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm

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


  • Ouga February 24, 2013 at 4:00 pm

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

  • ZxM Style-Squared February 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm


  • Cua Wendy Moua February 24, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Absolutely classy. Love it!

  • beautyexprezz February 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm

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

  • Olyvia February 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    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!

  • Anonymous February 24, 2013 at 4:17 pm

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

  • Ashley February 24, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Amazing alterations job, did you do yourself?

  • lin February 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    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. 😉

  • FashionEdible February 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    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

  • Aya V February 24, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    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.

  • ♥ Natalie February 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Beautiful dress!! <3
    Love how you made it fit!

  • Anonymous February 24, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Gorgeous as usual!!! You are so cool.

  • Amber @ February 24, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    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.

  • John Marine February 24, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    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.

  • Franziska February 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm

    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!

  • Julie February 24, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Love this outfit!

    xoxo, Julie @ OBSESSED

  • Anonymous February 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    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.

  • Anonymous February 24, 2013 at 7:33 pm

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

  • Anonymous February 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    You look stunning! Glad you didn't mail it back 🙂

  • Rachelle February 24, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    You look so chic, love the wooden heels.


  • Rosie February 24, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    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.

  • mai February 24, 2013 at 9:26 pm

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

  • Suzie Q February 24, 2013 at 9:27 pm

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

    Suzie Q

  • Anonymous February 24, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    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.

  • Lillian February 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    how do you do your hair??

  • Angel February 24, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    I think it's gorgeous on you!

  • Mina Yazdi February 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm

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

  • Anonymous February 24, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    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.

  • Tara February 24, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    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.

  • jenn~the stylish housewife February 24, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    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

  • Anonymous February 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    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….

  • newpetite February 25, 2013 at 12:33 am

    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!

  • Liz February 25, 2013 at 12:50 am

    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

  • Liz February 25, 2013 at 12:54 am

    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

  • Monkey February 25, 2013 at 2:02 am

    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.

  • SewPetiteGal February 25, 2013 at 2:21 am

    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? 😀

  • Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 2:22 am

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

  • Lili February 25, 2013 at 4:26 am

    I love everything about this outfit!!

  • pretty little things February 25, 2013 at 8:47 am

    this outfit is so beautiful and ladylike! xo

  • sophié February 25, 2013 at 9:44 am

    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…

  • sophié February 25, 2013 at 9:45 am

    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….

  • amandasliew February 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

    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

  • Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    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.

  • Arts February 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    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.,

  • Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    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.

  • phiphis blog February 25, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    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

  • Kholá February 25, 2013 at 2:44 pm

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

  • Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

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

  • Jyoti February 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    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!

  • Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    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!

  • Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    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.

  • melodiee February 25, 2013 at 6:39 pm

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

  • Jackie February 25, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    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?

  • Steffi February 25, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    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.

  • Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    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.

  • Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    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

  • Erin February 25, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    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.

  • Christy February 26, 2013 at 12:32 am

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


  • Life in Petite February 26, 2013 at 3:33 am

    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!


  • lisacng @ February 26, 2013 at 10:21 am

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

  • Anonymous February 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    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.

  • PetiteAsianGirl February 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    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.

  • Anonymous February 26, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I know, I really want to get those gorgeous waves!

  • Anonymous February 26, 2013 at 11:47 pm

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

  • Iconoclaste February 27, 2013 at 7:33 am

    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
    mon vide-dressing

  • Youa February 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    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

  • Joanne Ku February 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Joanne Ku February 28, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    love the boots 🙂 currently in love with pumps with chunky heels 🙂

  • Annabelle March 1, 2013 at 10:51 am

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

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Rosie – thank you for letting me know!

  • PetiteAsianGirl March 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Interesting…thanks for the link!

  • Anonymous March 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    This look is so chic and sophisticated, love it!

  • Anonymous March 4, 2013 at 12:44 am

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

  • Petite Adventures March 5, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Great dress!

    Kate xo

  • racingcourne March 6, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    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!

  • C March 7, 2013 at 6:42 am

    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.

  • Heather @ pass the dressing March 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    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!

  • Anonymous August 16, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    I love it. You look classic and just a little retro! And not like everyone else, refreshingly. 🙂

  • KB May 10, 2016 at 2:04 am

    Ha! We were in the same class with Olya for several years back in Russia – and now I'm seeing her creation on my favorite blogger! It's a small, petite world indeed! Absolutely beautiful, elegant look.

Comments are closed.