by Rebecca Rose, January 17, 2009
In view of hard times ahead, I made a new year’s resolution to stop shopping. Instead I would resurrect the pile of garments lying in a moth pit at the bottom of my wardrobe. There lurk several perfectly decent items which I barely wear. Why? Something is wrong with each of them: a pair of trousers which are too short; another too long; a dress shrunk on second wash; another bought two sizes too big; a jumper lacerated with holes. I’d love to take them in or let them out, but even typing the words makes my hands tremble.
The Dress Doctor, Jo Poole, promises to breathe new life into your wardrobe by altering, customising and reinventing what you already own. She arrives promptly, with boxes of buttons and remnants, a sewing machine and a giant pin-cushion on her wrist. After a cup of tea and a chat, I begin my catwalk show of the unflattering, unsightly and unfashionable. Before I have finished even vaguely gesticulating “it might need a bit of something here”, Poole is getting to work with safety pins. Within an hour or so, everything is pinned into place: a bright pink coat is set to be a pleasing pea-shape rather than out-of-date tulip and has shed three redundant buttons; the shrunken dress will expand with two panels down the side; the jumper will be revived by snazzy patches; and the ankle-skimming trousers will walk again as sleek strides to wear with heels.
Poole then makes some preliminary adjustments at her machine, taking the rest home to finish and then parcel up for special delivery. The excitement of opening a bundle of customised, revitalised and now perfectly fitting clothes is similar to the buzz of receiving an internet- shopping consignment. Except that you don’t have to smuggle it in.