This outfit features pieces that have trendier details, but have nevertheless become classics in my fairly conservative wardrobe. Last October, I saw this leopard linen coat on Chloe and didn't wait five minutes before messaging her about the quality and fit. A leopard print coat may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I loved the more wearable textured linen unlike the usual faux fur. After trying on so many items that I've felt yawningly indifferent about, I've been all the more appreciative of pieces that get me excited at first sight.
Chloe responded that she felt the quality was impeccable ("a rarity these days"), but the fit ran big so I'd probably need alterations. The jacket was pricey to begin with, and I estimated all-over alterations to be about $150 and risky without a trusted tailor. I love a good coat and have splurged on several in the past - mostly items that have earned their worth in # of wears, but also an impulsive purchase or two that are now gathering dust. I wanted to make sure this wouldn't end up like the latter.
Fast forward to January and I was still thinking about the darn coat, which had by then sold out at full price. After doing my 2012 year-end wardrobe spending analysis, I was surprised to find out I shopped nearly 40% less both in item count and $-wise than in 2011. I still love my H&M, but weeding out frequent trips to "the usual" retailers and sale racks resulted in more closet space and funds for things that I really wanted. I began my hunt for a pair of Valentino pumps that I'd been admiring for half a year (namely on Wendy), plus this coat. Thanks so much again Vicki K. for alerting me when a size 00 popped back into stock!
As expected, the coat was roomy throughout, but I saw potential for a piece that I'd enjoy for years to come. I wish I could say the same for Nick, who was horrified at the massive amount of leopard and dubbed me "Cruella Deville." I usually value his honest, unfiltered thoughts, but this was something I knew I loved regardless of opposing opinions. My only qualm was some stains on the coat. I contacted customer service and they were impressively responsive, and somehow located another one in the same size. I sent mine back for an exchange and was informed that the new one coming to me would be marked down 50% off to reflect an upcoming clearance sale. Totally unexpected, but no complaints here!
And now for the not so fun but unfortunately necessary part of having well-fitting clothes - getting & paying for alterations. Wendy, who is very similar to me in size, bought the same coat and got it beautifully altered in L.A. (as shown in the below right pic). Her tailor took the torso up by the shoulders, which is a fix I'm familiar with for dresses and tops but never had done for a coat. I imagine it's very complex, but the end result is a proportionate, properly-tailored garment ...versus one that has just been hemmed and taken-in, but with all the details (button and pocket placement, lapels, etc) left unadjusted. I was fascinated! Proper tailoring must be a dying art, as the tailors I asked in Boston said they'd never done that for coats, and quickly shunned my suggestion like it was a bunch of baloney.
Left: Unaltered coat on me in sz 00, leopard "linebacker" style
Right: Wendy's coat post-alterations on her - entire torso was lifted by the shoulders, shoulder width was narrowed, sleeves were slimmed, torso was slimmed and hemmed
Wendy so kindly offered to take my coat to her tailor and mail it back, but in the end I just went to one that I've been visiting in Chinatown (located on Knapp St & speaks Chinese only). I proposed a "fitting," and asked the tailor to leave the lining seams unfinished until I could try the coat on and give feedback. I'm a wuss when it comes to asking tailors to re-do work, so figured this request would set some expectations. I mentioned this after he had already finished all the pinning and chalk-marking. After he understood what I meant through my embarrassingly broken Chinese, he went back and checked the markings, plus took detailed measurements of my body (aha...hopefully was encouraged to do a more thorough, accurate job the first time around).
A month and a fitting later, the results are not perfect from all angles, but I think my tailor did the best his skills would allow. Unlike Wendy's results, the lapel/pockets/buttons on mine were not shifted upwards, so the lower button hole comes dis-proportionately close to the shortened hem (I removed the button itself). Despite some issues, I adore the coat - and Nick even had me doubled over in surprise when he mentioned how much he now enjoys it.
Total cost was $60 to take in the shoulders, slim and hem the torso, and slim the sleeves. I was expecting to pay well over $100, and felt this was extremely low for the amount of work done (which the tailor proclaimed himself afterwards). His rates are very unpredictable, though - he'll charge me $12 to slim a skirt one month and $25 the next (possibly after realizing how much work the prior one was), and I don't argue. My aunt says not to bargain with tailors after you've handed over the clothes, if you want your stuff to come back in the best shape possible!
Readers - Have you ever had a coat or blazer taken up by the shoulders (or done it yourself)? If so, please share how it turned out and how much the job cost.