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.

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Leave a Comment


  1. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  2. 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

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  3. sophié wrote:

    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….

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  4. sophié wrote:

    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…

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  5. this outfit is so beautiful and ladylike! xo

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  6. Lili wrote:

    I love everything about this outfit!!

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  7. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  8. 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? 😀

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  9. Monkey wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  10. Liz wrote:

    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

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  11. Liz wrote:

    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

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  12. newpetite wrote:

    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!

    Posted 2.25.13 Reply
  13. Anonymous wrote:

    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….

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  14. 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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  15. Tara wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  16. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  17. Mina Yazdi wrote:

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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  18. Angel wrote:

    I think it's gorgeous on you!

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  19. Lillian wrote:

    how do you do your hair??

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  20. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  21. Suzie Q wrote:

    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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  22. mai wrote:

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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  23. Rosie wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  24. Rachelle wrote:

    You look so chic, love the wooden heels.


    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  25. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  26. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  27. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  28. Julie wrote:

    Love this outfit!

    xoxo, Julie @ OBSESSED

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  29. Franziska wrote:

    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!

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  30. 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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  31. 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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  32. Anonymous wrote:

    Gorgeous as usual!!! You are so cool.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  33. Beautiful dress!! <3
    Love how you made it fit!

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  34. Aya V wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  35. 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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  36. lin wrote:

    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. 😉

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  37. Ashley wrote:

    Amazing alterations job, did you do yourself?

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  38. Anonymous wrote:

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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  39. Olyvia wrote:

    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!

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  40. What do you do to your hair to make it so voluminous? Can you share your hair care and styling routine?

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  41. Absolutely classy. Love it!

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  43. Ouga wrote:

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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  44. LOVE! this is such a gorgeous color and the details you added work fabulously.


    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  45. So polished!

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  46. Shira wrote:

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

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  47. great look! love the dress 🙂

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  48. Anonymous wrote:

    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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  49. 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.

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply
  50. You look so chic

    Posted 2.24.13 Reply

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