Monday, May 27, 2013

Tailor Tales: Custom Tailoring with Western Fabrics and Styles

Dear Readers,

I'm switching things up a little bit today. This Blog Every Day in May challenge has been great... and it has really pushed me to dig deeper in my posts. But, I still love me some fashion/textiles/design blogging :) And this weekend I bought some new fabric on a whim, and now the wheels are spinning!

My fashion sense is pretty... run of the mill, I think. I don't really like to splurge on clothing, unless its someone else's money ;) My every day uniform consists of skinny jeans/pants, a flowy/flattering top (not too much cleavage, not too tight), a scarf (depending on the weather), a cardigan, earrings, and flats or sandals. The end. Sensible and cute (I like to think) but not exactly pushing the envelope.

On Saturday I went with Megan and Gina to the fabric store {not traditional fabric... the Dakar version of Mood}, and I came out with something new. I always have the most success when I'm not looking for something specific! However, I took several pictures of the fabric and it looks pretty heinous. Take my word for it - its a lovely, summery chiffon! Here's the fabric, and what I'm envisioning:

My goal is for effortless, stylish comfort. A lightweight and modern kaftan to throw on in the heat. I'm excited for a new flowy summer dress! :)

P.S.... I'm really picky when it comes to having things custom made. I get quite frustrated when I have a new outfit made by a local tailor and it doesn't turn out just so. I hate, hate, hate when my clothes are unflattering or constricting and uncomfortable.  I'm regularly flabbergasted when these outfits don't fit perfectly, even though the tailor took my exact measurements. I think its because my proportions don't compare to Senegalese women, womp womp.

Here are some past (and semi-successful) Western-style and Western fabric dresses I've had made here in Senegal. The trick is finding a tailor who really understands a) Western cuts, b) chiffon/silk fabrics, and c) tailoring to flatter the body. Its also really important to have an idea of what fabrics work best for different styles, and to know what flatters your own body, of course.

Love this fabric, but the waist line tailoring didn't work out... nothing a belt couldn't fix! ;) I also wasn't a big fan of how he placed the pattern with that large horizontal stripe around my midsection.

But anyways.

My cousin's wedding in Paris! I took my dress out of my suitcase at the very last minute and put it in my carry on. Good thing because I didn't get my suitcase until the day I was returning to Senegal. Damn you, Tap Portugal! (Hence the too-light tights and cheap-ass shoes...)

The color of the dress in the above picture is closer to the actual look of the dress. The flash really brought out the (wrinkled) lining in the picture below, which you couldn't see in real life.

I wish the beading had been more intricate, like in the pictures I showed the tailor. Sidenote-this tailor was literally beading the sleeves in my living room up until ten minutes before I had to leave for the airport, muttering "This has never happened to me before, I swear!" Someone didn't manage his time well! I also had to use a pin to secure the neckline so I wasn't flashing my family members at the wedding ;) Annnnd in retrospect I would have made the waist band a little thinner. Water under the bridge now!

Check out my Pinterest board for dresses for links and other designs :)

I think I also found a new tailor this weekend who really "gets" fashion beyond the typical Senegalese styles. Here's something he had ready for a client in his workshop, modeled by the lovely Gina (its a little big on her):

Imagine this blazer {in the right size} with a solid white or black tee underneath, skinny jeans, and metallic flats. SWOON!

Wish me fashion luck! :)


This post was written as part of the Blog Every Day in May Challenge (2013).


  1. I love African fabrics. I wish I could sew so I can make things in my style instead of relying on the more conservative tailors here.

    1. Hey Erica! I love African fabrics as well, and have had various Senegalese tailors try their hand at Western designs mannnnnnnnny times (sometimes successfully... sometimes not so much). There is a lot to consider with the cut/design/style, etc. I will definitely have to post about it :)

      I'm curious to know if there are tailors in Tanzania who have a history of working with expats (which is the case here in Senegal)? I would at least try bringing some fabric to a tailor with a picture and see what happens... nothing to lose, and its generally super affordable!

      Good luck :)

  2. Tee-hee, "the Dakar version of Mood"...

    1. Clearly Project Runway has solidified Mood as my go-to fashion and fabric reference ;)

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