To Alter or Not to Alter...

... that is the question!

Having spent a bit of time this week altering a skirt I bought last weekend I started thinking about how and when I'm willing to alter RTW garments.

The skirt in question is this one:

I got it from the DKNY outlet at Bicester Village, a designer retail outlet near me.  It was reduced from £75 to £29, and what really caught my eye was the way the waist was shaped with all those little tucks instead of the usual darts or pleats. 

It was short though!  Around 16 inches short!  I haven't worn a skirt that short in goodness knows how long.  Luckily it had a decent hem of about 1.75 inches.   I decided I could easily let the hem down quite a bit, thereby making it more comfortably wearable. 

However it was also a little big around the waist, so that it kind of didn't know how or where to sit.  The part where the tucks end sat nicely on my hips, but the waist was loose.  Not loose enough to be baggy and floppy, but loose enough to make me look a good size or 2 larger around the waist than I am.  I spent a bit of time thinking about this one, I knew I could do an alteration here as well, and again quite easily, but I needed to decide whether it was worth it.

In the end I decided that it was worth spending the money and doing the alterations.  It now fits nicely around the top and is about 1.5 inches longer.  Still pretty short for me, but wearable with thick tights. 

So, how did I decide whether it was "worth it" on the alterations front? 

At the time I wasn't sure how I'd come to the decision, but thinking about it since, I realised I've got a few rules when it comes to situations like this.

The garment in question has to be good quality.  The fabric of this skirt is lovely and thick, but soft, it's finished nicely and of course it is "designer".  If it had been £29 full price and had been in a run of the mill chain store I wouldn't have considered buying and altering it because I don't think the quality would have been that good. 

The garment has to be "different".  Not way out different, but if this had been a standard pencil or A line skirt, again I wouldn't have bought it.  I'd have decided I could look for another one similar, or make one. 

The garment has to be a good price.  I wouldn't have paid £75 for a skirt and then done these alterations.  Having said that it's highly unlikely that I'd have paid £75 for any skirt.   But if I had spent that sort of money, I would have expected whatever I bought to fit well without needing my sewing skills to sort it out.  The only exception to this rule would possibly be hemming to shorten trousers.

So, how do you feel about altering RTW?  Is it something you do often, or something you'd never consider?  Do you have rules of your own about this?


  1. Food for thought! I've only ever done one alteration on RTW - somehow it is easier for me to start from scratch. But I've found myself considering it lately. I hope we get to see a photo of you in the fixed skirt!

    1. It's not something I do often, as I'm not a fan of alterations. Starting from scratch is usually so much easier!


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