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.
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.
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:
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.
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.