by Alice Olins, January 03, 2007
There is a graveyard in every wardrobe; a place where badly fitting wrong buys live — or, rather, die. Mine was once densely populated and languished in the far left-hand corner of my cupboard. To be brutally honest, I had stopped venturing in that direction for fear of all my sartorial ghosts.
Today, though, my wardrobe is a happy, healthy place, thanks to the Dress Doctor. A costumier at the National Theatre, BBC and Shakespeare’s Globe, Jo Poole has healing fashion hands. And even better, she comes to your house.
The wardrobe resuscitation process started with a proper measure-up, followed by a lengthy discussion and try-on session. Together we assessed why I wasn’t wearing these clothes, whether they were worth rescuing and how she was going to save the good ones. Then the Dress Doctor got to work, sending me off for several hours — presumably to avoid any backseat sewing. In cosmetic surgery terms, I had only fillers and a shot of Botox: sleeve-lengthening, new buttons and a whole lot of hem-shortening. But the Dress Doctor can perform full facelifts. Take this plain New Look dress. A veritable blank canvas, it was nipped and tucked into something that puts many designer fancies to shame.
Poole’s process involves a certain degree of trust, but when you consider that she has hand-stitched Elizabethan costumes, you realise that your oversized Topshop sack dress is no more than a walk in the park. And her array of fabrics, finishings, ribbons and haberdashery paddings (for shoulder and bust) are as mind-boggling as her ideas. Somebody pass the scalpel.