I was trying on some of my summer clothes last week and was not happy. Some of my light pants and one of my dresses no longer fit me; they were too tight. Unfortunately, because some of them were cheaply made, they aren’t even fit to send to thrift shops.

In the past, I didn’t worry too much about the exact size or length of my clothes when I bought them or my size changed. Mom could always tailor them to fit me. She could shorten hems and take in or let out waistbands. She even sewed panels in the sides of a shirt that I inherited from her friend to make it larger for me. It fit perfectly then!

I was thinking about how much I miss her skills when I was trying on those clothes. Since I can barely sew on a button — let alone hem pants or alter a waistband — I need to think carefully about my future clothing purchases. Bringing my clothes to a tailor would be very expensive. So, what should I do?

I started with my biggest concern: the length of my pant legs. I am 4’11″. And when I buy a pair of pants, they almost always need to be shortened. This was not a problem for Mom, but now I need to find a solution. I decided that I would purchase pants in the petite department in the future so that it’s more likely that the length of the legs will be just right for me, no hemming needed!

Plan for Your Changing Body

If you are plus-sized or tall, you might want to purchase items made for your body type because they’re likely to fit better without alterations.

Another option to help ensure fit is to buy jeans and slacks with a little spandex in the material. And a waistband that could be belted or left loose helps accommodate a changing waistline.

For casual pants, nothing beats an elastic waistline for comfort. Yoga pants and capris are my best go-to legwear for weekends, especially in the summer.

Mom is gone, but she continues to teach me. In the absence of her considerable sewing skills, I have had to be very mindful about the choices that I make about buying new clothes.

By putting a little thought into our clothing purchases, we can buy quality clothing that fits better and lasts longer. Even if the initial cost is a bit higher, we save money throughout the life of the clothing and avoid the fast-fashion trap of cheap, low-quality clothing that barely lasts a season — and ends up in the landfill.


By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.