Dressing for my drycleaner

Discussions around forces that influence the average Western woman’s wardrobe generally include peers, parents, significant others, media, workplace rules (explicit and ouija-boardesque), teenage children, and lifestyle.

While not immune to choosing—or failing to choose—items based on various nefarious and/or encouraging messages, there’s really only one person in my life from whom I seem to crave textile-oriented approval: my favorite tailor/drycleaner. Because the Dapper Drycleaner does more than just run a cleaning emporium and perform minor alterations and repair: he makes suits from scratch.

[Not mine, alas, not mine. Which doesn’t stop me from staring balefully at fabric bolts, thumbing through his books of Italian fabric samples, and daydreaming about his ~ $2K creations whenever I stop by for alterations.]

So when I roll in with my cleaning and DD is there in his exquisitely-fitted suit and stylish tie to assist me, I wait. And wonder. And sometimes get rewarded with a chat that centers on what he thinks of my various (dirty, alas) garments.

So far, he’s partial to three of my winter mainstays:

These three wardrobe mainstays have received my Dapper Drycleaner's seal of approval

Though admittedly he has a love/hate relationship with the tweed looks-vaguely-vintage-but-is-from-2004 jacket.

Tweed, slightly deconstructed (much to the Dapper Drycleaner's regret)

The jacket's plethora of (thankfully sturdy) seaming helps create curves on me

While our conversations are always short, I enjoy seeing what he looks at first. Or again.

DD: Impressive construction. I like the red. Unusual.Though this…[makes moue of distaste at deliberately deconstructed edges].You buy it in town?

Me: “Yes, several [5!] years ago at a consignment shop.”

DD: “How much?”

Me: “$200.”

DD: “Good price. VERY good.”

Awwww, I love the upside of my Contrarian Classicist style persona: favorite items end up with a delightfully low cost-per-wear!

Naturally, the thing he HATES about the tweed—the deliberately frayed, oh-remember-when-that-was-popular detailing—is what I love most. [Well, aside from the lining.] And while it may be booooooring, the edges and the curve-creating structure are why I always pair this jacket with dark solids + heeled boots that have a little attitude.

How could anything (else) retro or ladylike do it justice?

L, it's an inside job; R, I like to pair my vaguely vintage pieces with modern/classic mates

Ignore my waxy, mega-ghostly-looking skin in that one B&W shot, because I have an urgent question: Should I admit that for 5 years I've mostly worn this jacket with a) a column of black or b) a column of brown?

After several years as his customer I’ve figured out that The Dapper Drycleaner, while a master tailor who adores structure, is also a sucker for the softer side of style.

THAT MAKES TWO OF US, DD

He especially likes my ridiculously long flounced-hem wool skirt, even though he and I both know it makes me look like I’m standing in a hole when I’m not in motion. Good thing I’m in motion a fair amount of the time when I wear it—and since it’s so damn fun to sweep around in, perhaps I’m in motion even MORE than usual.

Apparently the reward for wearing too-long skirts and bad photography is that one gets to head for the light

DD: This is quality wool. Drapes well for its weight. Hard to find.”

Me: “It’s made by a local shop and the owner always makes her things out of beautiful fabrics.

DD: “A long skirt for you, yes? Mostly I hem at your knee.”

Me: “Yes, way too long. I love it, but I’ve learned to only wear it with dark boots.”

DD: [turning it inside out] “Strong technique. Clean.”

Me: “I’ve had it for years and it’s worn really, really well.”

DD: “If you get tired of long and want short, come to me—don’t throw it out.”

These days, I like pairing the skirt with deep scoop necks. Bonus points for waywardly draping underlayers in blobby patterns—especially ones purchased for job interviews—since they ALMOST make my wayward hair look intentional.

I tell myself that the silk animal print top + sheer merino scoopneck sweater add up to some retro glamor when paired together...so I figure why NOT toss them on with a skirt of vintage-y length?

I must say that while I have no way of proving it, I ALSO think DD and I are united on preferring clothes that mix one from Column A and one from Column B.

Give us structured AND stupendously womanly, and we’re in heaven:

When a (c. 2005, deep black in real life) jacket looks this awesome on the hanger, odds are good it will do something even more amazing on a live person

DD: Nice jacket. Very feminine. Vintage, yes?”

Me: “No, I got it on sale years ago, but it was from the brand’s current line.”

DD: “You sure? Beautiful seaming. Heavy.”

Me: “Yes I’m sure! But I agree it has a vintage look. Check out how the fabric acts more like a wool knit.”

DD: “Huh! I like this. Wise choice for your shape, too.”

Given my mad photography skillz, it’s lucky I snapped the front when I bought the yes-brand-new jacket in 2005. While my little molded friend shows how the jacket adapts to an Hourglass’ ins-and-outs, the INSANE amount of seaming means even an H/Rectangle such as myself ends up with a few curves.

L, the jacket when new (2005); R, still helping to create some curves on me

Unlike my truth-telling, unforgiving tweed jacket, this favorite topper is 98% wool and 2% beautiful, glorious lycra. And as if the bit of stretch weren’t enough, my 5’4 self really appreciates the vertical seams here there and yes, everywhere. So much so that I have lots of legwear (some more ancient and held together with clear nail polish than others) with which I like to echo said lines:

I often echo the vertical seaming on the jacket's body + sleeves with linear legwear

There’s no doubt that the chance of getting a positive review from The Dapper Drycleaner makes it slightly less tedious to drag my accumulated flotsam and jetsam in for care. Now if only my washing machine would weigh in on my socks and underwear, maybe my laundry pile would stay manageable….

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6 Responses

  1. 1. LOVE every single one of those pieces. The detailing and work on those jackets is amazing, and I think the skirt makes you look tall and slender. That jacket with the vertical seaming…perfection! (and love the follow-through with the tights!)

    2. ENVY your having found a dry cleaner/tailor who knows their stuff. Even the hoity-toity dry cleaners here employ marginally skilled alterations people.

  2. How absolutely wonderful to have a dry cleaner who so gets your style, aesthetic and appreciates your INCREDIBLE eye( who wouldn’t?). Really, Vix, you have gorgeous taste. Every piece you showed here I am coveting. I am especially in love with your GORGEOUS structured thought. And I also love how much thought you give to each item, you are a gal after my own heart.

  3. Pseu—

    I do hope your reply was typed while others fed you chocolate-covered Birthday Weekend strawberries!

    Thanks for dropping in (and for loading me up with compliments); I am all about the vertical element!

    [So much so that I usually wear my boots with vertical detailing vs horizontal buckles with shorter skirts, but I was feeling rowdy.]

    I really am spoiled having such a talented person as a resource; he’s saved me from keeping items that would be non-ideal to alter and he/his staff have given new life to older pieces.

    I admit I envy the people who have a custom suit from him!

  4. LBR—

    Many thanks from one structured-piece-lovin’ gal to another.

    I will gracefully accept your compliment about my taste with the caveat that I am certainly proof that one is never too old to start learning about fit, fabric, proportion, and one’s stylistic preferences…if one so desires!

    And yes, as I said to Pseu, I am lucky to have such an expert around.

    [Plus I admit that living in such a casual place I rarely see men in suits, let alone ones in ties/shirts that are perfectly suited to their suit and coloring…so he’s a bit of eye candy for me.]

    *** ps to both you LA women ***

    The tweed jacket is from Petro Zillia—who apparently closed her LA-based studio a few weeks ago for online-only sales.

    She does these *very* colorful/adorned pieces, these sleek silk numbers, and then structured jackets like mine. Love that it all comes out of the same head!

    http://houseofpetrozillia.blogspot.com/

  5. Goodness, DD sounds like quite a character and quite possibly should get his own TV show?
    You do seem to have some beautiful things – I doubt I can point to such elegance in my own closet. 🙂

  6. Ms EO —

    Ah, but YOUR closet will be beautifully organized, while mine….

    And thank you (belatedly). DD’s standards/skills seem ripe for a documentary, that’s for sure.

    In terms of my closet, I think anything remotely interesting has now been photographed; there’s not much there-there, ha.

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