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!

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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  1. Valeri wrote:

    oh god jean. you're one foxy momma in this photo. so chic. absolutely love the whole look on you. !!!!

    Posted 3.22.16 Reply
  2. Hi Jean! Obsessed with that coat. Do you have any recommendations of your go-to Tailors in Boston? I'm looking for a few good ones in Back Bay to try out but will venture around the city. Thanks in advance for your help!

    Posted 3.31.15 Reply
  3. HI! Would you bee willing to sell this coat? I've been looking for almost a year and I cannot even find 1 fore sale. Thanks!

    Posted 2.20.15 Reply
  4. jhon wrote:
    Posted 11.9.13 Reply
  5. I used to live in LA and Orange County. I always used this location for my tailoring.
    They are pricey, but everything came out perfectly. I'm "short shouldered" (top of shoulder to my chest is short) with a small, short waist and large hips, but I'm not a petite. Most all of my dress and work clothes must be tailored. They are the people that taught me how much better my clothes look when I gather up a few inches from each of the shoulders. They also tailored the waists of all of my pants and skirts so that they fit perfectly. I was 32 years old before I had perfectly fitting pants. It was life changing.

    Jean, have you thought about asking who does the alterations for your higher end retailers? That's how I found this location. They do all the work for Chanel, etc at South Coast Plaza and have a retail shop as well. You could use the high end people for serious work and keep your guy in Chinatown for the more simple jobs.

    Posted 11.5.13 Reply
  6. Melissa wrote:

    Love your blog! I was wondering who Wendy's tailor is in LA? I live here and haven't been able to find a good tailor who handles petites well. Thank you so much and keep posting your inspiring creations!

    Posted 7.2.13 Reply
  7. Hi Jen – thank you! It's a light coat of Revlon Ravish me Red

    Posted 4.30.13 Reply
  8. Rosanne – that sounds like such an interesting book. THank you for sharing, and I plan on hunting one down for a read!

    Posted 4.30.13 Reply
  9. Hi Lisa – yes, sadly! I tried turning it off and got about a dozen messages about toilets in 2 minutes : / Will try to move to disqus soon to spare commenters the trouble.

    Posted 4.30.13 Reply
  10. I was told by a Nordstrom sales associate that they will probably never make it to sale (at least not the basic colors), but you never know!

    Posted 4.30.13 Reply
  11. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks so much! You are so sweet!

    Posted 4.30.13 Reply
  12. Sure – They're Chanel tortoise Wayfarers Style #5182 but from 2 years ago

    Posted 4.30.13 Reply
  13. Hi Melissa, thanks so much for your kind words! I don't know of any tailors in NYC, but maybe you can read through this thread to see if anyone has a good recommendation: http://forum.alterationsneeded.com/find-share-tailor-t3.html Another option is Yelp, but I know reviews of tailors can be incredibly mixed!

    Posted 4.30.13 Reply
  14. Hi there – wow, thank you so much for thinking of me and going the extra step of putting it on hold! I saw your message and made a beeline for there after work, and slipped it right before they closed : ) The dress unfortunately didn't fit, but the quality is excellent and I'm thrilled to hear you loved it & scored your size. Even though I didn't come home with it, just wanted to say how much I appreciate your message!

    Posted 4.30.13 Reply

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