fashion designer

8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Custom Design Experience

8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Custom Design Experience

As a couture designer, seamstress and costumier my goal is to create the absolute best garment for you that I can. I offer a free consultation, ask lots of questions (not just about what you want the garment to look like, but also where, how and why you’ll wear it) and do lots of sketches before starting to draft the pattern.

But what if you’re not coming to me? What if you don’t know what to expect? What if you just want to make sure you’re getting the best result possible?

Grab your notepad, because I’ve collated my top 8 tips for ensuring you get the most from your bespoke clothing experience.

Fashion designer and pin up model Velvet DeCollete shares the 8 things you need to know to get the most from your custom made clothing experience.

1. Research

Before you pick a designer, tailor or dressmaker do your research.
Look for photos of their previous work, their qualifications, reviews from clients or recommendations from people you trust.  Do their style and skills suit the garment you want? ( for example don’t ask a designer who works in leather to make your bespoke silk wedding dress, and don’t expect a vintage reproduction specialist to be an expert in modern knitwear.)

2. Be Prepared

While I offer free consultations, most designers will charge you. Being prepared means you can make the most of your consult to ensure the designer or dressmaker knows exactly what you want,  and that they’re the right person for the job.
Things that I’ll ask you at a consult are: your time frame and budget, colour preferences, what occasion the garment is for, a few examples of styles or design features you like, and if there’s anything you really dislike.

 

Choosing a designer and ordering a custom designed piece of clothing can be intimidating, but here's 8 tips for getting the most from your bespoke experience!

 

3. Ask Questions

Ask if your designer does payment plans (this is especially helpful if you’re budgeting for a wedding) . Ask for a contract, what date they can have the garment completed and for an estimate of the price. Keep in mind that a custom made garment requires a personalised pattern, toiles, several fittings, quality materials and a high level of skill. These all add to the price so expect it to cost more than off-the-rack clothing.

 

When I create custom wedding gowns and costumes, I always include care and wearing instructions for my clients

When I create custom made clothing, I always include care and wearing instructions for my clients. These photo instructions made it into the wedding photos!

4. Be Open to Advice

I can’t stress this enough.
If you go to a professional, experienced designer or dressmaker they should be able to assess your body shape and advise you if the design you want will be flattering. Please listen to them. We want you to look and feel amazing so if we suggest a change of style or fabric please consider it.  You’re paying for an expert service so make the most of their expert knowledge.

I personally refuse to make garments I believe will be unflattering. If you want something that doesn’t suit you it’s easy enough to buy off the rack!

5. Measure Up

A custom made garment is made to fit you, so your seamstress will take your measurements to work from ( I take between 8 and 15 measurements depending on the design). It’s incredibly important you take any lingerie, shapewear or shoes you plan to wear with your garment to your fittings as these can dramatically alter your body shape and height.
It’s also vital to tell your dressmaker if you plan to lose or gain weight, are trying to fall pregnant or if you become very ill during the construction of your garment as these circumstances will affect the fit!

As an example, all sixteen pieces in the photo below create ONE fabric layer out of FOUR layers that made up this corset. Every one of these pieces would need adjusting on every layer should the client gain or lose weight. That’s 64 individual pieces to alter!

 

corset pattern pieces | Velvet Decollete

 

6. Be Honest

This is your dream clothing or costume we’re talking about, so be honest!
If you’re not sure about a design – tell us.
If something’s itching or uncomfortable at a fitting – tell us.
If we suggest a colour or fabric you hate – tell us!
One week from deadline is too late for most designers to change anything and will make the process far more expensive for you, so be straight up about anything you’d like changed as soon as possible. A good designer or seamstress will make it work, or at least explain why it won’t work!

7. Be On Time

Be on time for fittings, on schedule for buying your lingerie and shoes and up to date on your payments.
A missed fitting stops work on your garment, meaning it might not be ready for the agreed deadline. Not wearing your shapewear at your fittings could cause last minute alterations when you finally do bring it and find it changes your curves. Putting time pressure on your dressmaker by not being organised can cause delays, or a lower quality of work as we often end up working through the night in these cases!

 

Fashion designer and pin up model Velvet DeCollete shares the 8 things you need to know to get the most from your custom made clothing experience.

8. Be Realistic

Custom designed clothing requires hours of painstaking work. Be realistic about what you expect to pay for your perfect garment and how long it’s going to take. Remember that your order is probably one of several the designer is working on at any given time.

It’s also important to remember that inspiration pictures are just that – inspiration. Your designer should make the most flattering garment possible, but we aren’t magicians! Most fashion pictorials are heavily edited and while a skin tight non-stretch gown may look amazing pinned on a model, in reality you won’t be able to sit down. Sitting down is important, as it being able to breathe, lift your arms, and eat!

 

 If you have any questions about commissioning a customised or bespoke garment flick me a message on my facebook page or my contact page– I’m happy to help! Examples of my custom designs can be seen on my fashion design portfolio, where you can read feedback from my clients themselves x

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, 2 comments

The Incomparable Edith Head

“A dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to show you’re a lady”

Wise words from Edith Head, the most prolific costume designer of the 20th century, and the creator of the tight but loose dress I sketched for my Miss Pin Up New Zealand 2017 talent. Edith’s costumes fueled my early love affair with the transformative power of fashion. Elegant, luxurious and crisply tailored her signature style was the epitome of vintage glamour and everything I wanted to be in life.

 

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Ginger Roger’s Wearing an Edith Head costume in ‘Lady in the Dark’.

“A designer is only as good as the star who wears her clothes.”

Involved in over 1100 movies Edith helped define silver screen style. She worked closely with Hollywood actresses designing costumes that they actually loved, believing that you can lead a horse to water and you can even make it drink, but you can’t make actresses wear what they don’t want to wear. This close working relationship made her a favourite of actresses in the 1940’s and 1950’s, who would demand that studios rent Edith from Paramount for their films.
Edith created iconic costumes for screen legends like Audrey Hepburn, popularised the sarong dress with Dorothy L’Amour and delivered fierce glamour in films like Sunset Boulevard. Grace Kelly was a favourite client and wore Edith’s designs in the classic film Rear Window.

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Edith Head with Gloria Swanson who she dressed in the fabulous film Sunset Boulevard

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

“Building a proper wardrobe is like building a home. Indeed, you should think of it like a home, because it is something you’re going to live in. It must be comfortable and suit all your needs.”

Film costuming didn’t command all of Edith’s time however. With no nonsense approach she designed everything from full wardrobes to uniforms for the United States Coastguard. I adore her power dressing philosophy, which encapsulates her opinion that fashion changes not only our physical proportions, but how we feel and what we can achieve. Daily style didn’t require money, it required thought, practicality and imagination. Edith advocated dressing for the life you want rather than the life you have.

 

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

 

In 1967 Edith’s style book “How to Dress for Success” was released. Containing this gem which is possibly even more relevant today!

‘No matter in which direction your strivings for success are pointed, what you wear and how you look can make the difference between moving steadily toward your goal or just rocking back and forth in the same spot. In these days of mass-marketing techniques, you know that when a product lacks eye-appeal it gathers dust on the shelf. So at the very outset, we say, “Think of yourself as a product.” In order to achieve success you have to sell that product, so start right now thinking of how you can improve it.’

 

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

 

Edith may have created glamour, but she didn’t embody it herself. Known for her diplomatic skill with tempestuous actresses Edith dressed to blend in, not to stand out. Edith preferred conservative skirt suits in neutral tones, with a wardrobe that reflected her low key personality.

“I always wear beige, black or white. For one thing I look good in them. For another, when I’m beside a star at a fitting, and she looks into the mirror, I don’t want to be competing in any way.”

Even her distinct blue tinted glasses weren’t the bold fashion choice they appeared. The blue lenses muted colours, helping Edith see how costumes would appear on black and white film.
But Edith wasn’t without scandal. She scammed her way into her first Hollywood job using sketches that weren’t even hers! Her talent was undeniable though, and she went on to win 8 Oscars, becoming the most awarded WOMAN AND COSTUME DESIGNER ever in the Academy’s history! ( Can you tell I’m excited about that? )

 

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

Costume Designer Edith Head helped define old Hollywood Style and paved the way for women being recognised in the male dominated film industry.

 

Today Edith’s legend lives on in popular culture. Pixar‘s The Incredibles character Edna Mode is based on Edith. She’s adorned a postage stamp, a google doodle, and will forever be imprinted on our idea of classic pinup glamour. Above all, Edith was a role model, proving that women could excel in the male dominated Hollywood industry.
I’ll leave you with one final quote from my design idol;

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.”

With Style & Sass,

     Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 1 comment

A Purple Freak with Tan Lines

Okay honesty time: this photoset is oooold, as in November 2015 old. I shared the photos on Facebook but never blogged them because I hated my super obvious tan lines. But ya know what? I’m naturally olive skinned. It’s hard for me to stay this pale, especially in the summer. So here it is – tan-lined legs and all – because I love this purple and black ensemble.

Jaimee B (21)

Jaimee B (29)

Outfit Breakdown

Headress | Velvet DeCollete
Corset | Corset Story
Gloves | Looksharp (embellished by Velvet)
Knickers | Kmart (Embellished by Velvet)
Fishnet Pantyhose | Columbine
Shoes | Pulp Noir

Made for working the merch stall at Burlesquefest 2015 this outfit is all about the purple. The gloves and knickers are embellished with hand stitched fabric hydrangeas and irridescent sequins (hello sewing in front of the TV), while the headdress features large glitter coated roses, leaves and black feather trim with dangling glass beads and tassels. The whole shebang has a ‘gothic showgirl meets fairy’ kind of vibe to it, which I love.

I was working on costume commissions for clients leading up to the event so didn’t have time to make my own corset. I picked this one up on sale from Corset Story. It’s more of a fashion corset and doesn’t pull me in around the waist at all, but that’s fine when you’re working in it for hours!

Public safety warning – sequined knickers will get caught on fishnet tights. Caution is advised when crouching or bending over.

purple showgirl burlesque costumeblack rose headress 1black rose headress 2

I made the headdress in a few hours from supplies I had stashed away, the only thing I had to buy specifically for this was the base ( a plastic visor that I turned upright and covered with fabric ). Hairpieces and headdresses are one of those areas where you can really go crazy with contrasting textures and materials. The bigger the better!

Photos | Zandy J Photography

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, PINUP, 0 comments