From the Tailors’ Studio: How to Measure Yourself Properly

The occasion may arise when you need to measure yourself for a pair of new pants, a shirt, or the like. Of course, any tailor is trained to do these measurements, but it’s helpful to know how to do it yourself, as well. Here are our tips on how to make your measurements accurately, and a guide on what terms and tools you will need.

 

Tools
You’ll need a cloth tape measure (a metal tape measure won’t work), and a pencil and paper to write down the measurements.

Take it off
You’re going to want to measure yourself against your bare skin, so remove your clothes first. You’re going to take measurements of your chest, waist, hips, and inseam, plus a few extra measurements you may need.

Don’t suck in
You want your clothes to look great on you, and this requires accurate measurements. If you’re measuring yourself, don’t suck in you belly or cheat on the measurements! This may sound silly, but you could sabotage a flattering garment in the making (or in-the-alternations) if you don’t measure accurately.

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“Appearances Can Be Deceiving : Frida Kahlo’s Wardrobe,” Revealed After 60 Years

 An unlocking of the iconic wardrobe of the Mexican artist after 60 years

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Frida Khalo was one of the most memorable artists of the twentieth century, and her personal style was a deep part of her artistic identity. Her self portraits and personal mythology became an icon of inspiration for feminists, political activists, and artists to the present day.

Forgoing the slinky dresses and gelled curls of the 1930’s, Khalo instead wore traditional Mexican Tehuana costuming, which consisted of a long, full, skirt; a short, square blouse covered with necklaces; and flowered headpiece, which she usually wore over tautly parted and braided hair. The Tehuana was an indigenous, Mexican, matriarchal society, and her choice to wear their garments asserted her feminist stance. He identity was so deeply linked to her wardrobe that when she died in 1954, her husband Diego Rivera decided that all of her clothing, jewelry, corsets, and accessories were to be locked up in a closet for fifteen years. But he died three years later, and friend of the couple (who was also an art collector) named Dolores Olmedo became their estate manager, and the inaccessible closet remained a locked mystery space at Casa Azul, Khalo and Rivera’s home. According to Mexican costume and fashion curator Circe Henestrosa, a series of misunderstandings led to all of the garments to be kept under lock and key until Olmedo died in 2002 (some accounts say 2004).

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Now, Frida’s iconic clothing is on display at Museo Frida Khalo in Mexico City (AKA Casa Azul). In addition to the flamboyant and radical garments that she made so irrevocably hers, the intimate show also exhibits an aspect of the artist that was just as emblematic of her as the clothes: her ongoing physical pain. During her childhood, she suffered from polio, leaving her health fragile and with a small, stunted right leg. As a teenager, she also suffered a terribly violent bus accident, which led to many surgeries to correct her spine; as a married woman, she also suffered a number of miscarriages. To make matters worse, her husband, muralist Rivera, had numerous infidelities during their dramatic marriage. Khalo was in chronic pain—both physical and emotional—her whole life, giving great depth and rawness to her self-portraits.

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On display along with the brightly colored, indiginous-inspired Tehuana ensembles are also the leather and plaster medical corsets that Khalo had to wear for years after the bus accident and subsequent numerous spinal surgeries, as well as prosthetics to aid with her polio-disabled leg which she had amputated a year before her death at 53.   The Tehuana costumes are certainly all of what she intended as a political and feminist statement, but the loose layers of the long skirts were also a comfortable way to conceal her handicapped leg, and the boxy shirt a way to conceal her plaster corsets.

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The exhibition also shows contemporary fashion inspired by Frida:  including three Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci dresses of the Fall Winter 2010 Collection, and a corset gown by Jean Paul Gaultier. The exhibition runs through January 2014.

Gatsby, Classic 1920’s Menswear, and the Meaning of a Flapper’s Dress

Australian film director Baz Luhrmann is known for his highly stylized art direction and rich, cinematic visuals. Its no surprise that the costume design and styling of his recently released Gatsby, which garnered $51.1 million during its opening weekend in May, was both lavish and successful in portraying the decadence of the period.

Luhrmann and his head costume designer, Catherine Martin, collaborated with the classic, preppy Brooks Brothers brand to custom make sharply tailored menswear for all of the male cast members, but also for the hundreds of extras as well. The director and costume designer referenced The Great Gatsby text directly to see how F. Scott Fitzgerald had dressed his characters; details such as Gatsby himself in a pink linen suit (played in the film by Leonardo DeCaprio) surfaced. Interestingly, F. Scott Fitzgerald himself regularly wore Brooks Brothers, and was in regular communication with the company, making the partnership all the more appropriate and powerful.

Brooks Brothers took these literary details, inspiration from the collaboration with Martin, and created a limited edition line of menswear: The Great Gatsby Collection. The collection includes classic 1920’s gentleman’s attire including a burgundy wool striped regatta blazer, to be worn with white linen slacks and a straw boater hat. There are also accessories available such as walking canes and black patent leather loafers. Now contemporary gentlemen of the upper echelons can party like its 1921 in the dandy styles of the decadently roaring twenties. Gatsby’s iconic pink linen suit was also available, but seems to be sold out as of the publication of this story.

But Brooks Brothers were not the only brand to add their signature look to the film: Miuccia Prada guest-designed forty women’s gowns for the lavish party scenes: extravagant encrusted silk, beading and crystals, and flamboyant headwear. In the interview below, Martin discusses how Prada’s signature style is influenced by the past, yet looks totally of the moment, which is why they asked her to create the flappers’ party dresses. Prada and Martin were able to capture the defiant and carefree attitude of the flapper through their designs.

A bit of background on the flapper should be mentioned as well. The traditional flapper’s attire reflected her disdain for the more conservative values of society, and instead embraced her love of driving cars, drinking, smoking, engaging in casual sex and “petting parties,” and wearing makeup. The flapper was not an intellectual feminist by any stretch of the imagination, and some suffragettes of the time critisized flappers for being “superficial.”  The flapper’s clothing and style did pave the way, however,  for new aspects of female liberation by asserting that women could enjoy the spoils of society just as men, and with as much vigor.

Chanel Spring/Summer 2013 Haute Couture

For Chanel’s current Spring/Summer 2013 haute couture line, designer Karl Lagerfeld envisioned something a bit different than the usual runway show. In a beautiful antique ampitheatre, Lagerfeld creates an enchanted forest for his models to circulate in, dreamily wandering together in reverie.

Black, white, and navy characterize most of the gowns, many in classic Chanel textures or with intricate beadwork. Feathers and Edwardian tones are met with architectural shoulders; layers of tulle, beaded flowers, and lace add to the romantic feel of the collection. Below are three incredible videos showing the collection, and some behind the scenes info with Lagerfeld and the couturiers.

View the whole enchanted forest runway show in HD here:

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A Brief Guide To The Ecological Clothing Movement

Based on mid-century manufacturing standards, there are a myriad of toxic chemicals which go into making your clothes. These chemicals affect you, they affect the environment, they affect the workers who made the clothes. Awareness of the complex problems 1950’s and 1960’s methods of manufacturing creates has paved the way for a new age of alternatives, including nontoxic textile manufacturing, clothing recycling, and sustainability and accountability in fashion.

Most of us don’t think about the impact of what we’re wearing on our own health, nor its impact on the environment’s health. But an awareness is increasing about the synthetic fabrics that have been used in the manufacture of clothing for over half a century, and the negative impact of their use. The Ethical Fashion Forum is an online resource for finding valuable information about ecological methods of manufacturing. First, here is a list of common fabrics and the toxic effects of their manufacture, which may surprise you—but will hopefully empower your choices in the future.

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Clothing as Artifact and Narrative: “Sentimental Value” Exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Alliance

Clothing and accessories have a tendency to become enmeshed with our lives and stories, and then become imbued with stories of their own. Emily Spivack, a fashion historian and the creator/editor of the Smithsonian’s fashion history blog, Threaded, began exploring other people’s clothes on eBay in approximately 2000. In 2007, she started formally collecting various items of clothing from the auction site—ones with particular stories attached to them—and created an online archive of the images along with the original text written by the eBay seller.

cutoffshortsThe pieces range from speculative rock and roll memorabilia (a snakeskin print dress supposedly custom made for Whitney Houston); to the antectodal (shoes worn by Mary Kay’s longtime personal assistant in Dallas, Texas); but all in all, most have obscure and deeply personal stories from the everyday people who wore them.

For instance, the vintage fur jacket a woman’s mother owned, found when she passed away; anonymous, blood-stained Civil War-era shirts; the jean shorts a woman wore the night she met her future husband at a Grateful Dead concert. On the more mythological side of things, there is a hat listed as “Women’s Red Velvet Gold Brocade Tribal Altar Cap VOODOO” which the lister explains was found at the estate sale of granddaughter of Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau. The Web-based project documented some 600 garments and their stories, and keeps the descriptions of the garments as written by the eBay posters themselves.

Now the Philadelphia Art Alliance presents the original objects along with the text, entitled “Emily Spivack: Sentimental Value,” is open through August 18, 2013.  The PAA, if you haven’t heard of it before, seeks to present innovative contemporary art with a focus on craft and design. This innovative look at the archive and narrative behind historic and everyday clothes exemplifies why how we dress matters so much to us, and how memories are wrapped with what we put on our bodies.

Client Inspiration: Classic Hamptons Looks, Revenge-Style

Last summer, we had the pleasure of contracting out one of our tailors to work with Lucky magazine on their feature on actress Emily VanCamp. VanCamp, if you’re not familiar with her, is the star of of Revenge, ABC’s soapy hit about corruption, murder, and yes—revenge—amongst the mega-wealthy living in the Hamptons. Harkening back to classic American primetime soaps of the 80’s such as Dallas and Dynasty, America once again ogles the decadence, opulence, and dark disasters of the ruling class.

hamptonsbeachVanCamp’s show is a decadent guilty pleasure for viewers. This guilty pleasure is due, in no small part, to sumptuous scenes replete with tableaus of the elegant eveningwear. The show’s characters are seen attending galas, throwing yacht parties, and drinking champagne on the beach in a very classic collection of high-end threads. Much of the styling for day scenes is classic conservative Hamptons-WASP ensembles, and thus gets a little boring; some of the best (daring) day dresses are are worn by Madeleine Stowe’s character, Grayson matriarch and villainess, Victoria.

We looked at the Fall 2013 runways with Revenge in mind, and found the best matches for seasonal Hamptons-friendly attire.

But if you were to ask me whose runway for fall 2013 best matches the style and energy of Revenge’s most decadent evening wear scenes, I’d say Oscar de La Renta. His fall 2013 collection is full of sumptuous textures and jewel tones, classicly tailored. Shapes include traditional, very feminine dresses that look inspired by a chic 1950’s cocktail party, in bright colors and patterns, some with exquisite beading and embroidery work. There are some surprises in this elegant mix, such as black chiffon hooded capes! (Perfect for artists, perhaps, who are still haunting the Hamptons.)

For menswear, Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece by Thom Browne offers classic and preppy mixed with some more adventurous, avant-garde all-tartan suiting.

The women’s 2013 collection for Black Fleece is decidedly Hamptons-appropriate, too, especially the pleated taffeta skirts and printed shift dresses.

See you at the yacht club, lovelies!

The designer for Revenge discusses her vision of choosing costumes for the characters in a video from ABC.

Future/Past: 90’s Nostalgia on the Runway and in Culture

February, 2013, New York City. The party is in the very dark and very low-ceilinged basement of a huge store in Soho. The darkness is compounded by walls covered in black graffiti, amidst which aloof skaters with Dash Snow braids under factory-fresh Supreme skate caps chain smoke. A girl wearing a yellow, smiley face bra (one large smiley face per breast), printed leggings, and platforms also had long braids, and glows from the darkness; the accessory of choice for her, and many others at the party, is the mini-backpack. The mini-backpack! Back from the dead! The nostalgic vibe of the environment welcomes me to a throwback fantasy of the 90’s teenage life that I once lived, squeezing past warm bodies in a sea of outrageous, grungy, club kid outfits.

Illustration: Ron Egatz

Illustration: Ron Egatz

It’s now spring 2013, and we have come full circle to return not just to the identity-embracing fashions of the 1990’s, but also to the attitudes and culture that helped create these fashions in the first place. Rave parties in basements? Check. Girls with enough confidence in their bodies that they wear literally what-ever they want in the streets of New York City, even if that’s a belly-shirt, a fanny pack, and black lipstick? Check. (Oh, and smoking inside? Check. Could have done without that one.) Even beyond the 90’s body ideals of waif-chic an Amazon-chic, here was a decade for the assertion of the individual and her body. And her cultural heritage. 90’s identity politics informed not just a decade of contemporary art, but also of fashion and body politics that made for incredible interesting and diverse fashion.

If you were alive in the 90’s, or if you know how to navigate a Google search, you will recall 90’s fashion in the above categories also had some of the most unfortunate textural characteristics of almost any decade: layers of lace and stretch velvet, oversized, floppy layers which sometimes included floral overalls; unflattering stretch synthetics with cheap prints; and one of my personal irritants, the mini-backpack as seen at the aforementioned Dis Magazine party. Yet, designers have been taking these seemingly unredeemable details of fashion history and reworking them into some of 2013 most esoteric and avant-garde pieces.

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Fashion Intersects with Art: Marina Abromovic

As any art world insider will tell you, fashion and art are cozier bedfellows than ever. In some regards, this union is counterintuitive, bringing to mind bohemians in their studios covered in paint, plaster, and shreds of particle board. But wait! How the artist wears her work suit of distressed fabrics just so! How it just hangs off the body, how it has an elegance…. And so, it is often true: artists have certainly have a way with style. (Think of Lee Miller, Frida Khalo, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and so on.)

Especially in 2013, art’s biggest stars are bonafide celebrities, making the pairing between the fashion and fine art worlds stronger (and more profitable) than ever. In an ongoing series, we’re going to take a look at connections between the art world and fashion. That may be a literal collaboration between a label and an artist, such as Cory Archangel’s recent designs for Japanese firm A. Four Labs, a collaboration with artist Ryan Gander; it may be an historical look at an artist’s style, or at a brand appearing at a recent art fair.

To inaugurate the series, we’re looking at venerable performance artist Marina Abromovic. Originally from the former People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), the 66 year old has been exploring the boundaries of body and mind in her performance-based work for roughly four decades.  Especially after her seminal exhibition at the MOMA in 2010, The Artist Is Present, Abromovic legitimized and drew attention to both performance art as a medium and, well, to herself—as an irrefutable art celebrity.

In this video by Art 21, Abromovic describes the previous standard for a woman’s appearance in performance art during the 1970’s: one which eschewed women wearing lipstick or anything traditionally feminine, in favor of the masculine and therefore more “serious” look of the plain and austere. (Art history may be on her side with this one: her de-sexualization of herself may have been necessary at the time. It is also important to note that she has refuted that she is a feminist or feminist artist. She is decidedly neither.) In an era of post-feminism wherein unabashed, flamboyant feminine beauty is acceptable, she now “embraces” fashion. Her costume choices for her recent performances include regal, high-necked long dresses of solid colors, flowing around her and onto the floor, as with The Artist Is Present. 

The closing party of her MOMA exhibition was hosted by Givenchy, and she is currently on Givenchy’s Spring 2013 ad campaign, along with other friends of Givenchy’s creative director, Riccardo Tisci (along with Kate Moss and Mariacarla Boscono). The campaign features her in a minimal black suit jacket and white collar. She also has graced the covers of V Magazine and Elle Magazine, dressed in couture and red lipstick.

It’s amazing to see our youth-obsessed culture find a matriarch of performance with power and narcissism so deep that her age actually becomes a jewel in her crown rather than a handicap. To see her forge a relationship with the fashion world after sixty is incredible, a testament to her legacy as a cultural icon. Once again, we see even the least traditionally commercial of art forms, performance art, has found a way to become bedfellows with an industry synonymous with profit and economy.

An Introduction To Stitched Tailors

Welcome to our new blog. We hope to provide stimulating posts about fashion, art, popular culture, and what we do in the fashion, entertainment, and advertising industries.

Jenn Weishaar, co-founder of Stitched Tailors, is a stylist in New York and Los Angeles who saw a need for access to excellent skilled tailors and seamstresses for the industry.

tailorsdummyFounded in 2007 in New York, the first client of Stitched Tailors was a commercial for Motorola Razr, directed by Michel Gondry. The costumes created and tailoring provided for this project paved the way for series of ad campaigns for Prada, Alberta Ferretti, and Vera Wang, serving top industry stylists and photographers.

Over the past six years, the range of clients we’ve worked with include designers, stylists, fashion editors, and art directors. Stitched Tailors has also worked directly with celebrities for red carpet events, tailoring gowns for the Met Gala, costumes for independent films, and on-stage costuming for performers and musicians.

We’re continuing the success of our reputation, working with the fashion, celebrity, entertainment, and advertising industries. We have many regular clients who often ask for tailors by name. Our strength is in our diversity, and we carefully pair each job with tailors qualified for the particular garment type, fabric, or drapery which needs careful attention.

First impressions are everything: the drape of a gown, the smart tailoring of a fine suit, the slim fit of a great dress shirt. The way your clothes look on your body make all the difference.

For information on how to book one of our tailors, visit our contact page or call 646-943-4525.