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Why Every Girl Boss Should Consider Getting Her Clothes Tailored

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When it comes to tailoring, a lot of us can feel like that's a lavish, luxe service that only people who make BANK can afford. And while we will admit that getting your clothes tailored can be a bit of a splurge sometimes, it's all worth it when you think of how your clothes look and feel once you've had a nip here or a tuck there.


So, why is that? Well to understand tailoring, first you've got to understand why you might need to get your clothes tailored in the first place. Nope, it's not rocket science, it's as simple as you think: Our bodies are different.

"Standard sizes universally fail most women on fit," said Meghan Litchfield, an former GoPro exec working to open up how women get perfectly fitting essentials in their wardrobe with RedThread. "It's the #1 reason for returns and for women walking out of stores empty-handed. Tailoring can alter a garment so that it fits your body perfectly, and to your liking (e.g. more fitted, particular hem length, etc.)."

Of course, it also comes down to understanding how brands and businesses make their clothes. "There are a ton of clothes I have to get taken in and can't just wear right off the rack," said Jamé Jackson, a style and beauty influencer based in NYC. "A lot of designers make batch clothing, so they will cut clothes for a size four the same way they would for a size twelve. The problem is, not every size needs the same type of support, and even if two people are both the same size, how their body wears something won't look the exact same. If I spend a few dollars, I can keep that skirt or that blouse a bit longer in my closet because now I like how I look in it."

But we know what you're thinking: Where do you get the money and the resources to get your clothes tailored? Where do you start? Well, here are three very important tips for the next time you're looking to get a bit of a wardrobe boost:

Understand the limitations of a tailor.

Meghan pointed out that a tailor can only do but so much, so be mindful when you get started. "A traditional tailor can only make an item smaller or shorter since he/or she is working with an already-finished garment," she said.

Jamé added to that point, saying that one of her favorite things to do is get extra fabric so her tailor then can work with it. "I love to thrift, so usually I will find an item that is two, three, sometimes four, sizes bigger than me. At first, it can feel overwhelming, but it's always better to have too much [fabric] to work with than not enough."

Also understand that depending on how much fabric they are working with or the type of material it is, all of that can play a role in how they work with you and ultimately how long it takes. "When you take your clothes to the tailor, be sure to wear flexible clothes that you can quickly throw things on and off of," added Jamé. "I will usually bring a tank top and shorts so that I can put the garment on top and show my tailor exactly where I need the alterations. Don't be afraid to vocalize your thoughts and what you need, it's your clothes!"

Search to find your golden tailor.

The cost of a tailored piece will differ and vary depending on a multitude of factors, but you should search around before settling on one person. "It took me about three or four referrals before I found a tailor in New York City that I really liked and appreciated," said Jamé.

"It's like finding the princess to fit your glass slipper. You have to like the results and live with them, so you might as well take your time."

While you search, take into account costs, but don't make it all about money. "I really think it's too bad that tailoring is something that's seen as something only a few people have access to. And there's some truth to it," said Meghan. "There's the extra cost, yes, but it also takes a lot of time to find a good tailor, get measured, bring in your clothes, etc. We're trying to change that. Because I really do believe that we should all expect our clothes to fit us, rather than the other way around."

Start off easy.

Get referrals from friends and family on places they like to go. Oftentimes, dry cleaners and some laundromats will outsource tailoring services. Also, a simple Google search of tailors near you is an easy way to start.

"If I spend only $3 on a top from the thrift store, I'll take it to a new tailor and ask them to make a specific alteration," said Jamé. "If they do a great job, cool, we can keep working together. If not, I've lost $3."

Meghan is working on bringing in a new way of tailoring through her site, RedThread. She adds, "I'm biased, of course, but RedThread is a super-simple way to get started. We built tailoring into our design process from the very beginning so that we can cut, sew, and deliver personally tailored clothes in under a week."

So no matter what, start easy and simple and work your way up.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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