Posts Categorized: shopping

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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This Week I Love …


Fair Anita. (Post discusses sexual violence.)

I met Fair Anita founder Joy McBrien at a a women’s mentorship event that she organized back in April. Nearly 200 women attended and the entire experience was affirming and inspiring. Joy herself was also inspiring. Her passion for creating conversations around and opportunities for women leaders is shines out of her when she speaks, and her dedication to helping women overcome sexual violence is intense.

Joy is very open about her own experiences with sexual violence, and makes it quite clear that her own life events inspire and drive her work. As a student at the U of M business school, she designed and took a self-directed study abroad trip to Chimbote, Peru, a town of nearly 400,000 people, where 80% of the population lives in extreme poverty and 70% of women report having experienced domestic violence. She helped build a battered women’s shelter there, and then realized that helping these women reclaim some of their agency through economic empowerment could be even more valuable.

Fair Anita was created to make that possible. As the website states, “As a social enterprise, Fair Anita exists to create opportunities for women and girls, especially through leadership and entrepreneurship. We provide trendy products made by female entrepreneurs around the world to conscientious, fashion-forward consumers. The sales of these products provide economic opportunity for over 1,000 talented yet marginalized women in over 10 developing countries. Our message is women investing in other women: supporting one another’s leadership and growing comfortable in our own skin, creating positive impact on communities locally and globally. As a for-profit, mission-based organization, we are demonstrating a model to generate profit and social value.”

I had lunch with Joy shortly after the mentorship event, and she told me that she has met with more than 90 of the artisans who sell goods through Fair Anita. She travels the world to meet with artisans and talk with them about their crafts and needs.

Pop over to the site and you’ll find gorgeous jewelry, funky clothes, lovely scarves, and boldly colored bags. Most products are under $50, and you’ll be purchasing with the knowledge that your money helps support women artisans all over the world.

Do swing by and see if anything at Fair Anita catches your eye.

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This Week I Love …

… the abundance of high-rise styles currently on the market.

I know high rises aren’t for everyone. Low and even mid rises hit me at exactly the wrong spot and make me unspeakably miserable, and depending on how you’re built high rises may do the same for you. But they’re the ONLY style of jeans and pants I can wear, and I’m thrilled to see a variety of washes, sizes, and styles available right now.

Here are a few styles and brands I love:


Karen Kane Zuma Twill Jean – $109

We’ll start with my standby: Karen Kane denim. I know this is a lot to pay for a pair of jeans, but I’ve worn my pairs on the blog and off and just straight-up adore them. I bought a pair of black Old Navy jeans about 9 months after I got my black Zumas, and the ON pair has already faded twice as much. Lots of stretch but no sagging, a slim leg, and a nice high rise. There’s a cropped version, too, in some fun colors for fall.

All Karen Kane jeans and pants are high-rise, so if you’re not into skinnies, there might still be options for ya. Plus sizes available in some styles. Made in the U.S.A.

cn9026067Gap 1969 Resolution True Skinny High-rise – $34.99 – $79.95
use code COOL for 40% off until midnight

My other go-to right now is Gap, a brand that resisted high rises for a billion years before unveiling a great little collection earlier this year. They’ve got dark and light washes, several levels of distress, and tall and petite sizes in many styles. I’ve also got a couple of pairs of Gap Factory high rise skinnies that are super comfy, but tend to bag a bit after a day of wearing.

everlane slouchy trouser

Everlane Slouchy Trouser – $120

I will admit that I’m yet to place my first Everlane order, but based on Grechen’s opinion alone I’m more than willing to recommend the brand. The company is extremely transparent about its sourcing and production methods, and dedicated to lower markups than traditional retail. These pants are an unlined mid-weight wool twill, and in a cut that would look equally appropriate at the office or at a funky restaurant.

nydj straight leg

Pretty much any pair of NYDJ pants or jeans – $30 – $150 (this is the pair shown above)

I’m linking you to 6pm above, but also check Amazon, Nordstrom, and eBay for great pricing, especially if you’re looking for past-season styles or colors. Again, a spendy brand at full price, but comfortable, well-made, and available in a mind-blowing array of colors and styles, many in regular, petite, and plus sizes. The brand recommends buying a size down from your regular to optimize the “tummy panel,” but that has never worked for me. I buy my regular size and am far comfier in them. Made in the U.S.A.

jny sloane

Jones New York Sloane – $33 -$89

Again, the vast majority of JNY styles are high rise, but this classic wide-leg dress pant is incredibly versatile. Pocket-free and pared-down, it’s made from a seasonless, stretchy poly blend and comes in petite and plus sizes, too. Macy’s has some cute new JNY styles for fall.

talbots pants plus

Pretty much any pair of Talbots pants or jeans – $29 – $139 (this is the pair shown above)

I don’t wear this brand much myself anymore, but still praise them constantly for their size diversity – most styles are available in regular, petite, and plus sizes with a decent though smaller group in petite plus and tall sizes. Talbots will occasionally do a mid-rise, but the vast majority of their jeans and pants sit at the waist. And now’s a great time to buy since dozens of pairs are 50% off or more.

Premium denim brands like Paige and J Brand are hopping on the high-waisted bandwagon, too, showing everything from skinnies to flares, and you can get some great deals on them through the Nordstrom Anniversary sale, running until August 2.

Who else is a high-rise fan? Any other styles or brands to recommend?

**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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