• Leather trim + leopard linen (& all-over coat alterations)

    leopard coat red bag1

    Emerson Fry leopard linen coat sz 00 (runs big), altered (also sold here), Gap sweater (similar)
    J.Crew bag, Ann Taylor leather trim skirt, YSL heels

    This outfit features pieces that have trendier details, but have nevertheless become classics in my fairly conservative wardrobe. 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!

    leopard coat red bag2

    leopard coat red bag6

    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.

    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.

    leoaprd coat alterations

    Left: Unaltered coat on me in sz 00
    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.

    leopard coat red bag

    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 closer 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.

    leopard coat red bag4

    Total cost for me was $60 to take in the shoulders, slim and hem the torso, and slim the sleeves. I was expecting to pay well over $100, so note this is unusually low for the amount of work done (which the tailor proclaimed himself afterwards) and not to be expected. My aunt says not to bargain with tailors, 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. 

     

    64 thoughts on “Leather trim + leopard linen (& all-over coat alterations)

    • Yvonne April 29, 2013 at 1:21 am

      loooove that coat. i was drooling over it for the longest time, but of course, it sold out in my size within seconds after the sale. looks amazing on you!

    • Jenny B. April 29, 2013 at 1:32 am

      Enjoyed reading the adventure your beautiful coat underwent and the post-alterations result looks great, especially for that price! I was trying to see where the lower button hit but I couldn't find the button, was the button removed? Either way, it is barely noticeable in pictures.

      Also big thumbs up to Emerson Fry customer service! Also love a brand whose customer service matches the quality and price of their products.

      Beautiful styling, loving that skirt!

    • Anonymous April 29, 2013 at 1:43 am

      The coat looks similar to what Rachel Green wore on Friends. Loved it!

    • PetiteAsianGirl April 29, 2013 at 2:06 am

      Jenny – thank you, and you are right! I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Forgot I removed the lower button : )

    • Steffi April 29, 2013 at 2:49 am

      I think the coat post alteration looks great and I adore your Ann Taylor skirt!

      I brought a bunch of my coats along when I went back to Indonesia. I didn't request anything fancy though. They shortened & slimmed down the sleeves and body, taken the back and shoulders. The end results were decent and I paid $10 for each coat (which I already thought to be outrageous :p ). I would never dream to go to a Sydney based tailor for the fear of having a heart attack.

    • chocolatefashioncoffee April 29, 2013 at 5:58 am
    • Mary-Irene April 29, 2013 at 6:27 am

      You look polished and sophisticated, like you're ready to take on the world!

    • TaraMixandMatch April 29, 2013 at 6:37 am

      That coat is absolutely amazing…major envy here 🙂

    • Dahlia April 29, 2013 at 7:34 am

      Loving that look! Coat looks amazing!

      Dahlia
      http://xlelamaa.blogspot.fi/

    • phiphis blog April 29, 2013 at 7:58 am

      truly alterations can be such an adventure! i'm glad your tailor was able to work it out. it looks really wonderful on you and i laughed at nick's initial "cruella de vil" comment. that's what my husband says every time he sees a leopard or dotted print. you look fantastic as always, and i liked that you removed the bottom button, giving it a more proportionate look.

      xo P

    • Anonymous April 29, 2013 at 8:03 am

      Wait, Jean, I thought you already found a great tailor that you always used to go to. What happened to Hemmingway's?

    • Alyson April 29, 2013 at 8:06 am

      woah, so interesting to see how you recreated this jacket. it is so gorgeous on you, and totally something i can imagine having for years to come. as someone who lives in florida i rarely invest in jackets but I know if I lived in the north jackets and boots would be high on my list!

      alyson
      http://www.theaveragegirlsguide.com

    • The Red Trousers April 29, 2013 at 8:32 am

      Hey Jean!

      Loved, loved what you had done to this coat. It turned out beautiful and you look amazing in it! Your blog has inspired me to get some of my pieces tailored, so I can enjoy them even more.

      P.S. So glad you are safe and sound. 🙂

      All the best,
      Luna
      http://www.theredtrousers.com

    • lin April 29, 2013 at 8:34 am

      beautiful outfit and especially coat, jean! you look very chic as always.

      i haven't had any blazers or coats taken in so no comment there. i will say though that the proper fit does make a big difference on the way clothes look on a person.

    • pretty little things April 29, 2013 at 9:39 am

      this coat is absolutely gorgeous on you — pinning this look! xo

      http://allthingsprettyandlittle.blogspot.com/

    • PetiteAsianGirl April 29, 2013 at 9:46 am

      One of the two ladies in the Hemmingway "duo" moved away. The one who is still there is super sweet, but doesn't speak English so it's hard to communicate exact concerns & specifications. I didn't think that would be an issue, but sadly I haven't had much luck with results the last two times I went.

    • Cee April 29, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Way to hold your own at the tailors, Jean! From my point of view, the coat turned out beautifully.

      I'm horrible when it comes to bargaining and a complete pushover, but am unreasonably fascinated with the psychology behind it. Sometimes I'd go to the tailors dressed in my worst clothes, hoping they'd take pity on me on the pricing. I'm not sure how well this worked before, but I can't pass for a broke college student any more. Other times I'd go in and explain to them what I need done and ask for the cost up front. I figured it'd save both of us time and money if they can give a quick quote, but perhaps they'd veer on the side of caution and give a higher initial estimate? Sometimes I'd get an answer, but most times they'd make me go try it on before giving estimates. I do wonder if by trying things on, customers would most likely give in and get the alterations done there rather than shopping around for prices. Another tactic I've yet to try is take a piece of clothing in with the tags still on, ask for a quote but making it clear that the item is returnable if I don't think the alterations are worth it. Sadly they'd probably take one look at me and call my bluff, haha.

      Do you know how much Wendy paid to alter her coat? That'd probably be a good baseline for comparison since LA is a major city.

    • choo choo April 29, 2013 at 9:57 am

      This is such a cute look! Love the coat and the pop of red!

      Choo choo
      http://www.choochooli.blogspot.com

    • Shira April 29, 2013 at 10:00 am

      Wow, that jacket looks amazing! I wish I spoke chinese because I'd totally use him:)

      http://sequinsandpolkadots.blogspot.com/

    • Janki April 29, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Very nice…a good example of taking the time to do it right. I have a thrifted burberry blazer that I had a local gal alter. Luckily she didnt cut it but I realize she did a shoddy job (now that I'm learning to sew). Yet, I'm now thinking of getting it properly tailored since it's tricky for me to do.

      I also don't bargain with tailors for the same reason. When people feel like they are being devalued, they often act in a passive aggressive way. I do ask gently if they could give a cash discount since it saves them thr credit card fees. Some do, others don't.

    • Kellyinthecity April 29, 2013 at 11:02 am

      You always look so stunning in your photos! I am lovin' this look!

      xoxo

      Kelly
      http://www.kellyinthecity.com

    • Vickai! April 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Yay! I ended up getting the coat too! I <3 it to pieces, and honestly, what is up with guys and their aversion to leopard print!? My hubby makes the same comments. 🙂

    • AlexisB April 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      So beautiful!! And your little smile in the second picture says you know it too. Isn't it great to feel so happy about an outfit! Love the coat. I have a beautiful Milly coat that I purchased full price because it refused to go on sale (sold out, then one popped back in stock). I don't wear it much because I know it could use some alteration. I'm too afraid, though.

    • Jen K April 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Love this outfit, and the pop of red from the bag. On an unrelated note, what color/brand is the lipstick you're wearing? It looks beautiful on you in these photos!

    • FashionEdible April 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      That's a job well-done! The minor imperfections are invisible, really. I've never had anything taken up by the shoulders but quite often, I wish I knew how to do it myself. So many coats and blazers are made for extremely tall people that it's hard to find non-petite ones that fit perfectly lengthwise. I'd love to learn how to do it someday!
      FashionEdible

    • Sandy a la Mode April 29, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      that coat looks amazing on you!! i need to find a tailor!!!

      xo,
      Sandy
      Sandy a la Mode

    • Melanie April 29, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      altering a coat overall seems like a daunting task and still haven't gotten around to taking one to a tailor. it is pretty fascinating to see what can be altered on a coat to fit someone like our height. most of the time, I just wing it on fit and hope for the best, but does help to see what a proper alteration can do a to an item that you can love for many years to come. lovely coat, jean! glad you were able to find the size and a great deal on it – double score. =D

    • Jas April 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      I really like your style, so inspirational! 🙂

    • rosanne April 29, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      Oh my! I love that coat – it's so chic and your styling is impeccable. I am an intermediate sewer and often refer to this book, Altering Women's Ready-to-Wear by Mary Roehr, as a guide on how to approach alterations. I haven't ever had to make the kind of alteration on a coat Wendy had done as I'm somewhere between an 8-12 (leaning toward tall) in RTW sizing. My typical alterations are for a sway back, long waist, and full seat/thighs and lengthening inseam. This means I'm more likely to take in the waist for gaping than I am to adjust neckline/shoulder fit. That book is a wealth of knowledge and can really help identify how to assess fit and approach the alterations step-by-step. I found a copy in my local library and also the local community college library. I would expect you can find it in most libraries in the Minuteman Library Network, too, as it's harder to find it for sale on-line.

    • newpetite April 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      Love the outfit! That was a lot of work and $60 seems like a very good price. Love how everything comes together.

    • lisacng @ expandng.com April 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      I love the coat and the alterations and can't help but admire the photography as well :). I've never had alterations done for a coat, only because I don't trust any tailor that much. I always feel myself rushed with tailors, like they're trying to hurry me along without actually caring about fit/proportion/etc. Good for you for taking your time, and the tailor's. Looks great and for $60, can't beat it!

    • lisacng @ expandng.com April 29, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      PS Is CAPTCHA on because of spam?

    • Sofia Donatelli April 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      Beautiful outfit! Love the luxurious coat with the cozy turtleneck and lovely neutral tweed skirt.

      If you get a sec, please check out my latest post 'Vacation ready' I would love to read your feedback. Thank you 🙂

      Sofia

      stylishlyinlove.blogspot.com

    • Giovanna April 29, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Amaze look! Loving that coat and your heels!

      xx
      giovanna
      http://www.HeyLoveBlog.com

    • Michelle April 29, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Oh! What a great look on you! I can definitely relate to those unfiltered thoughts. 🙂

      Other than at a department store, I have not dealt with tailors. There will eventually come a day, so your tips are always appreciated.

    • Suzie Q April 29, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      I absolutely love the outfit, and fell in love with the coat on here. I love the way a leopard coat looks but have held back on getting one due to not being sure how much it'd get worn due to the more bold print. It's still on my mind even now that winter is over, so maybe that's a sign =) I love how yours is linen material instead. Great detailed encounter on your tailoring experience. I haven't had anything taken up by the shoulders, but thanks for sharing the difference with Wendy's tailoring experience. I haven't even thought of that as an option to ask for, but will keep that in my mind for next time and see if any of my local tailors would do that.

      xoxo,
      Suzie Q
      http://www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

    • kathy April 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      This whole outfit is absolutely fabulous, and I LOVE that coat! But, can we talk about the Valentino shoes? I NEED them, but not to the tune of $800. Will I ever be able to find them on sale?

    • Anthea Lau April 29, 2013 at 9:59 pm

      the animal prints on your blazer is super fun and cool! love this so much! <3
      A
      xx
      http://epiquemoi.blogspot.com

    • Petite Hues April 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      I like how you incorporated a statement piece into a work outfit, I'm always inspired by you to step out of my comfort zone. I think the jacket looks great on both you & Wendy, and the minor imperfections aren't visible to the naked eye really. Sometimes I like to step out of the "usual" brands as well, just to give myself other options to petite-friendly retailers. The sales are tempting, but a few mix-up in your wardrobe is necessary. I normally don't bargain with tailors either, like your aunt said, you don't want to risk your clothes when it's in their hands. For $60, I think your tailor did a pretty good job. Alteration can be costly in the city for me, so often times, I like to go with my local tailor, the prices are much more wallet-friendly, and often times I find that they try to understand what you want done and give that to you.

      – Christine

    • Anonymous April 29, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      Love the sunglasses…do you mind sharing where you mentioned them from?

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