Nothing Ever Fits

December 3, 2010

Scott and I have another date night tomorrow (whoo hoo!).  In going through my closet in search of something casually sophisticated to wear, I was reminded that over half of the clothes I own have been altered to a certain degree.  Because, duh, nothing ever fits.  And then I remember that I can never again buy something that needs altering (which means I can never again buy clothes) because of the sad state of professional tailoring in Log Angeles.  Bear with me, and I will explain.

As I have previously mentioned, I like to think of myself as someone who is capable with a needle a thread.  Sometimes, it works out for me.  Other times, not so much.  Which is a real shame, because nearly every item of clothing I try on needs to be altered.  Pants?  Always made for someone who is 5’11” and 110 pounds.  Dresses?  Made for women with the shoulders of a football player.  Tops?  Long torso and C cup breasts required.

I have tried to alter my own clothes many times.  One in ten pieces turn out to be wearable.  I have also paid a “professional” to alter my clothes many times.  One in ten pieces turn out to be wearable.

As it turns out, finding a good tailor is like finding a good hair stylist.  Next to impossible.  When I moved to Los Angeles, I got word of a mom and pop shop in a nearby neighborhood.  The Yelp reviews were mixed, but I was desperate.  So when I bought some nice clothes for work that needed tailoring, I took the risk.

I entered and felt the wooden floors creaking.  Heard birds squawking.  Great.  Because I love noisy, caged birds.

I was greeted by a lively Turkish Man dressed in suit trousers and shiny black shoes.  I couldn’t understand a word he said but assumed he directed me to the changing room.  With each piece I tried on for him, he made little “tsk tsk” sounds and shook his head and rambled on about who knows what.  All I ever understood was “I make it very good for you.”

And very good he made them, indeed.  Suit jackets, shoulder work, waistbands, princess seams.  Even repairing moth holes in sweaters and wool pants.  And when my husband took in a wool suit jacket that swallowed him, he walked out with a new suit, tailored to perfection by Golden Needle Tailoring.

In actuality, I think it was his wife who did all the sewing.  She must have had the Golden Needles.  But Turkish Man was the front man, the personality of the team.  Always cracking jokes in a thick accent, laughing at his own remarks.  His had a sunshine spirit.

So on the day I went in to pick up some pieces that were ready and found the note on the door, I was shocked.  Turkish Man had unexpectedly passed away.  The shop was temporarily closed.  I stood there on the street, with my then one year-old strapped into the Ergo carrier, and I cried.

I went back when his sweet wife reopened and picked up my clothes.  Told her how sorry I was.  How sorry everyone was.  For awhile, she ran the shop herself and carried out the same beautiful work they had done together.  But running a small business alone in Los Angeles, in a bad economy, is as hard as you could imagine.  And when I when by recently to have a dress altered, Golden Needle Tailoring had closed its doors for good.  And I almost cried, again.

Turkish Man, I still miss you, and now I miss your wife, too.  I miss her subtle smile.  The shop’s creaking wooden floors.    The excellent work.  I miss Golden Needle Tailoring.

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