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Sunday, April 19, 2009

I’ve mentioned Jean, the proprietress of Ghost Tailor, quite a few times on this blog. I found Jean when I was desperately looking for someone to alter some sweaters for me. No one wants to alter sweaters, which baffles me. It’s not like the sweaters grow on the sheep in ready-to-wear condition. (Designer to sheep: “Hey, sheep! Please grow two size 6 crewnecks and a size 4 turtleneck for me. Kthxbai.”) I figure if something can be put together in the first place, it can be altered. Luckily, Jean agrees.

Since I started going to her, Jean has taken dresses in, let dresses out, hemmed pants and sleeves, let down pants and sleeves, turned crewnecks into scoop-necks, raised waistbands and patched moth holes, among other tasks. It’s a relief to find someone who knows that the answer to dress straps slipping off one’s shoulders is NOT necessarily shortening the straps. I loved that she reduced this vintage Ossie Clark coat two sizes — and decided where to cut based on what would remove the most moth holes. But the job that impressed me the most didn’t involve sewing at all.

Craptastic photo from 2004

The vintage Ossie Clark dress in the photo above has really been through the mill. It has so many stains that it can only be worn at night. To places lit by candlelight. Where only people with bad vision are invited. It came to me in bad shape via eBay — were those COFFEE stains on the top part? — and then I had a run of bad luck with it. The cleaners at a fancy hotel in Paris stained it anew while steaming the wrinkles out. Then, when I brought the dress to the most famous dry cleaner in New York City to get the French stain removed, the dress came back two sizes smaller. I thought the dress would have to be put out of its misery at last, but I took it to Jean just in case she had any ideas. She decided that since the famous dry cleaner had over-steamed it, she would re-steam it and stretch it out. It worked and the dress is now wearable again, though still only in really dark places.

Jean is also a jewelry customer of mine. She bought my first-ever Fulvia Ring last year and she’s wearing it in this picture.


When she was trying it on it fit best on her left ring finger, so she asked me if I thought people would mistake it for an engagement ring. I said, “Only if your husband is Fred Flintstone.”

The Fulvia Ring doesn’t look like your average engagement ring.

Since then, whenever I see Jean, we have a conversation like this:

WendyB: How’s Fred?
Jean: Spending a lot of hours at the quarry.
WendyB: Mr. Slate works him like a dog.
Jean: Could be worse. Barney was laid off.

If you want be like me and talk to Jean about Fred Flintstone while having all your wardrobe problems solved, here’s how you get in touch with her. She’s by appointment only, so call ahead!

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33 Responses to “I’ve Seen a Ghost (Tailor)”

  1. Alicia/InstantVintage says:

    God, I want a tailor as cool and understanding as yours…then again I would have to have really cool stuff for the tailor to do stuff to.


  2. Sharon Rose says:

    Hi there-You’re very lucky to have such a professional and competent seamstress to hand, thats fabulous how she brought this Ossie back to life for you!!

  3. Fashion_Loving_Stylist says:

    Oh god do we need someone like her her in Sydney. I mean desperately.

  4. terribb says:

    I’m jealous you have Jean in your life. She sounds incredible! Is life better since you discovered Jean? Or are only the clothes better?

  5. Shrimpton Couture says:

    Love her shop’s name. That is what a tailor should be like – a whispy ghost that silently makes things perfect! I am a little jealous – I have yet to find the perfect tailor here. I had someone good but lost him when I moved 🙁
    PS the fact that she has a sign in neon in her shops photo – tres brilliant

  6. coco says:

    The Ossie Clark dress is stunning. It looks like the sort of thing Topshop would try and do a copy of and end up ruining. DON’T LET THEM SEE IT!

  7. miss sophie says:

    ha! your post made me laugh. my relationship with my drycleaner/tailor has also been instrumental in my sartorial well-being. i do kind of yearn for my own tailor, a la savile row for new york women…

  8. StyleSpy says:

    See, that is exactly the sort of ring I’d want as an engagement ring. (In gold, of course!) Your average diamond solitaire bores me to tears — I like yours much more.

  9. -h says:

    what do you mean craptastic? you look fabulous!! it’s good that she was able to salvage the dress.

  10. Sal says:

    Damn, Jean sounds like an absolute SORCERESS with the clothes. You’re so lucky to have found a creative and trustworthy tailor, Wendy.

  11. Dream Sequins says:

    I’m always looking for good tailor recommendations. Thanks for sharing this! I still haven’t found my soulmate tailor, yet…

  12. Belle de Ville says:

    I put having a great tailor-dressmaker a necessary luxury class above even having a great hairdresser. In my opinion, having clothes altered (new and vintage) so that they fit you like couture is the key to being chic.
    Nice ring too btw.

  13. Vyque says:

    Thanks for the well wishes! You should start thinking about a wedding band that would match…. just saying :O

  14. Couture Carrie says:

    That ring is divine, WB!

    And I love the vintage pic of you!


  15. copperoranges says:

    my grandmother does all my tailoring, but this gal seems like a gem (no pun intended)!

  16. La Belette Rouge says:

    Can Jean do anything about favorite sweater that He-weasel accidentally threw in the dryer?

    Love the ing so much that I am willing to date Fred.

  17. Miss Janey says:

    Jean is worth her weight in Fulvia rings, there is no doubt. Miss J wishes she could find her equivalent in Pasadena.

  18. BS says:

    One of those unbelievably important relationships that should be nourished at all costs!

    Love the Ossie Clark.

  19. enc says:

    She’s a real gem.

    Now you have to get her to wear your Wilma necklace, it’s only right.

  20. Sister Wolf says:

    Oh, I’d LOVE to talk Flintstones with her. I wish I still had my Pebbles doll, too.

    p.s. my CAPTCHA word is “vagpmen”!

  21. Deirdre says:

    You are sex-ay in that dress! And the ring is fabulous!

  22. Swell Vintage - Frankie says:

    How adorable do you look in that picture? The answer is “a lot” x

  23. Brooke says:

    Jean really is that amazing. I spent years trying to find a great tailor. Her work and creative ideas continually surpass my expectations. She’s the best!

  24. Deja Pseu says:

    How fortunate you are to have found her. Does she have a twin sister in LA?? Brother?? Second cousin twice removed?

  25. lisa says:

    Jean sounds like a godsend!

  26. Thumbelina Fashionista says:

    I agree–a good tailor is hard to find. Luckily I have a good one (they often do alterations for the fashion week crew). Many a garment has been salvaged by this tailor.

  27. miss cavendish says:

    Oh Oh. Was planning to send nylon Prada jacket to that dry cleaner over the summer. Now am nervous but don’t trust establishment!

  28. Practically Perfect In Every Way says:

    Jean is a genius and beautiful!

  29. daddylikeyblog says:

    Nighttime candle-lit parties for the blind are the best parties ever.

  30. LJ says:

    ah yes the tailor relationship. The tailor I go to, her name is Umbaro…she is amazing. She’s even made my dresses that I’ve designed, and they turned out lovely!
    xx-LJ from SOS!

  31. hollarback says:

    A good tailor is worth their weight in gold. I am still looking for my perfect tailor myself…..

    For dry cleaning, if you are in LA, French Hand Laundry & Dry cleaning in Pasadena is the gold standard for me with precious vintage items. They are miracle workers.

    (626) 792-3881
    606 S Lake Ave
    Pasadena, CA 91106

    Granted, not so convenient for you….

  32. WendyB says:

    Good to know, Hollarback…I do visit LA a few times a year!

  33. elena d says:

    now THAT is what i’m talking about…it always amazes me what a good tailor can do…
    jean is a rare find…but a great find…
    my mom has done the same thing for me…i have found unbelievable pieces (completely not my size) and then wandered over to my mom…saying…”please fix to fit me”
    gotta love it!