Posts Categorized: reader requests

Reader Request: DIY Alterations

diy clothing alterations

Reader Patricia had this request:

Can you maybe talk a bit about DIY clothing alterations? I’m not sure if that’s something you do with your own clothes often, but I know I’ve seen you recommend snipping off belt loops and the like… what options do you tend to utilize in terms of making off-the-rack clothing work better for you (either on your own or with tailoring, although I know you’ve already written a few great posts about tailoring)? Is it worth it buying something not-quite-perfect and making it your own?

I am a self-professed DIY novice, and will bring to my tailor anything beyond the simplest alterations. The types of projects I undertake are virtually foolproof, so if you’re curious about changing up bought or thrifted clothes these suggestions could be a great baseline!


I’ve been overdyeing clothes for years, and have become quite comfortable with the process. The hoodie and jacket above have both been dyed by me. I generally use iDye products, and although they claim to work in the washing machine, I get much better and more consistent results boiling on-stove. Since dyeing generally alters color but not shape, it’s an easy project to tackle that’s unlikely to totally ruin your garments. (Unless you’re working with a fiber that shrinks – boiling will speed the shrinking process!) However some colors don’t turn out as expected, so this is a DIY that’s best used on garments you are willing to part with, should they turn out puce instead of emerald.

Cropping pants and shorts

I know, who hasn’t lopped off a pair of jeans in her lifetime? But this is one of those stupid-simple alterations I know I can handle. I’ve done shorts, but I’ve also cropped skinny jeans into clamdiggers. I like the look of a ragged edge, so I crop and then wash without hemming. My only piece of advice: Try on your pants before cutting, and crop at least an inch longer than you think you’ll need. Shorts ride higher than you expect, and if you cut too long you can cut again. Cut too short, and you’re sunk.

Changing buttons

I once bought a teal blazer with those leather-covered buttons you see on grandpa cardigans. I swapped out the body and sleeve buttons for flat black and vastly preferred how the blazer looked post-swap. Craft and fabric stores are great sources for buttons if you don’t already have a stash, and so long as you’re working with a fiber that’s sturdier than silk, you should be able to replace buttons without much risk.

Substituting for self-belts or included belts

As Patricia noted, I’m an advocate of removing self-belts or included belts – which are frequently matchy or poorly made – and swapping in belts from your own wardrobe. The type of belt loops I’m happy to snip off are the super thin, woven thread ones that are tacked on at the seams to keep included belts in place. Cut close to the fabric, but be careful not to snip the fabric itself. Sewn-on fabric belt loops are another story – tailors can certainly remove them, but I’ve never attempted it myself.

And that’s my list! Short but sweet.

Is it worth buying an imperfect garment with the intention of altering it on your own? Hard to say. I’m more likely to undertake the alterations listed above on my own old clothes or thrifted items that are low-risk. Aside from fit-related alterations like hemming or taking in, I think it’s a bit risky to buy an off-the-rack item specifically for the purpose of altering it. If a dress is perfect aside from the neckline, you could have your tailor transform a crew into a V … but there’s no guarantee it’ll fit and look exactly the same. And buying a new garment intending to overdye it can definitely work, but it might be a better plan to find a similar one in a color you like to begin with. I’d never say “never,” but I’d also advise utilizing DIY alterations on low-risk items … at least to start!

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Reader Request: Go Versus Match

matchy matchy

Reader Roxane posed this great question:

What’s the difference between accessories that “go” and ones that are “matchy-matchy”? For example, if you’re wearing all silver accessories (necklace, bracelet, shoes) is that matchy-matchy? Would you need to mix metals to have things that “go” and still stay metallic? 

I wonder which assumes the need for a large supply of accessories (and thus perhaps a larger budget) – being matchy-matchy or having things that “go.” (Of course, if you stick to a very small color palette, this isn’t an issue.)

You all know I love talking matchy. Just a quick reminder: Matchy-matchy is not a crime, no matter what the magazines say. If you love matching your accessories, do it.

Matchy can apply to the clothing within outfits, but it’s more generally discussed in terms of accessories. Roxane’s question about jewelry is an interesting one: In my opinion, wearing necklace, bracelet, and earrings that are all silver is not matchy at all UNLESS they are part of a jewelry set that has repeating elements and motifs. Their silver-ness alone doesn’t make them matchy. I think wearing jewelry that’s in the same metallic family makes visual sense. If it feels like overload, try doing earrings and bracelet in one metal, necklace in another (or in a color) – that gives you a little distance between the two similar items and the chance to bring in a dissimilar third.

Silver necklace, bracelet, and shoes? That might be verging on matchy territory depending on how prominent the silver of the jewelry is and how shiny the shoes look. If you wanted to go with metallic accents beyond jewelry, it might be best to do at least one that isn’t silver.

When I think of matchy-ness, I mostly think about non-jewelry accessories. So, here’s an example:


By doing a red necklace, belt, and shoes – three red pops in three different areas within the outfit – this is already matchy-matchy. If I were carrying a red handbag, too, that would be extreme overkill in my opinion. I like to think of two matched elements as being unifying without getting matchy. So this:


… works much better. There’s still red and yellow, but only two red elements, a non-red belt, and a non-red bag. Other variations that would’ve worked include:

  • Red belt, red shoes, non-red necklace, non-red bag
  • Red belt, red bag, non-red necklace, non-red shoes
  • Red necklace, red belt, non-red shoes, non-red bag
  • Red necklace, non-red belt, non-red shoes, red bag

Etc. Go ahead and match your shoes and belt, just make sure they’re the only matched items to keep things contemporary. Also consider tights, earrings, bracelets, scarves, and hats as potential elements to match or mix.

It’s a little harder to describe what it means for accessories to “go.” In this older post on the subject, I say that accessories that go are different colors from each other and don’t pick up on any elements present in the design or colors of the outfit’s garments. But everything is harmonious, similar without echoing. The outfit on the right at the top of this post “goes,” since it includes a burgundy belt, teal bag, and leopard shoes.

In terms of which route requires a larger budget and/or supply of accessories, my guess is matchy-matchy would create a bigger burden. If you need to have belts, bags, and shoes that match exactly and want them in multiple colors, that’ll get expensive. If your accessories are either all one color or in mix-and-matchable neutrals/colors, you’ll have more variety using fewer pieces.

What are your rules for matching accessories? Would even two matched items feel like too much to you?

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Reader Request: Revised Tattoo

I’ve gotten a few questions about my revised ankle/leg tattoo, so I thought I’d tackle them today. Here’s what this piece looked like before the revision:

tattoo before

It’s a little hard to articulate what motivated this change, but I just knew it was time to tweak. After a couple of meetings with artist Zack Kinsey, he hit the nail on the head. “It doesn’t look finished,” he said, and although I hadn’t really known it before, I agreed. This tattoo was also the one with the least compelling story and least personal meaning. It was loosely based on a drawing of mine from 15 years ago, but aside from it being “growth”-related and a design I liked, it wasn’t terribly specific or special.

After my first meeting with Zack, I came home and was suddenly struck by the stained glass panels in our front door.


My dad designed these for our house. He’s an architect who has always loved Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie School design, and created a similar set for my parents’ home. When I shut the door behind me, I snapped this photo and sent it to Zack. I saw some natural similarities in the designs, and a way to expand the existing piece into something more meaningful and significant, linking it to my dad. He took some of the elements from the window and combined them with the existing art.

Here’s how it looks now (first seen on Instagram):


Zack insisted on outlining the whole thing in black, which I resisted initially since a non-outlined tattoo is such a rarity. But he was right: It helped a ton, and made the whole piece look more crisp and complete. I wanted more color, so we added the warm yellow as well as some blues in the panes toward my ankle.


It looked quite different drawn flat than it does on me, but the curved lines ended up working well with the curves of my calf. This piece took 3.5 hours to complete and was, hands down, the most excruciating work I’ve had done. There’s relatively little padding on my ankle bone, and that bit was particularly horrendous to endure, but for some reason the whole thing was just unspeakably painful. However, my other large piece is across my shoulders and I think there’s something to be said for being unable to SEE the work being done. That piece took at least three hours and wasn’t nearly as agonizing.

You can read more about all of my other tattoos here, except for the shoulder piece which you can see here (photo is of me in my bra, so not safe for work).

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