When working as a seamstress or tailor, or even just doing simple sewing jobs for people there are a lot of things that will happen along the way that will be unexpected. You always have those people who think there is no way they are really the size they are, and just won’t accept that fact. There are other people who don’t care what their size is, they will squeeze and tuck until they fit into something. Others don’t care what they are going to look like in something, and you have to swallow your comments and pride and just do what they are asking you to do. There is never a dull moment, and while sewing itself can be nice and relaxing, the customers are anything but! There have been many experiences in the dress business that have stood out in my mind, but here are a few that just outshine the others.
As stated above, some people just won’t accept the fact that they may have put on some weight. They won’t try on anything that is a size that would fit them, because they just won’t believe that they are that size. No amount of “I promise you, dress sizes always run smaller than clothing sizes, so you will need a bigger size” or “this style always runs small” will make them any better able to accept it. I am a large woman myself, but the difference is that I am more than willing to accept that fact. One of our customers had us actually change the size ticket in her dress so that her boyfriend wouldn’t know how big she was… and she was a size 6. She actually had us change the tag to say it was a 4! Ok people, pull the wool over his eyes, but do you really think that a man is going to notice the difference between a 4 and a 6? I mean seriously? Half of them don’t even know what size they wear, little long yours! The best way to deal with someone like this is to insure them they look great (despite what you may really think) and tell them that the dress is slimming and once again repeat that dress sizes run small.
Another issue we have had was that a woman didn’t care that she was larger; she wanted to fit into a 6, when she was in reality a size 12. Ok, the first thing that I’m sure comes to mind is that I mean she was planning on loosing weight… but no that’s not what I mean, I mean she wanted to use a corset and make herself fit into the dress. How do you deal with something like this? I mean, do you just tell her “I’m sorry, but you are not ripping my dresses open” or “There’s not a chance in the world that you will ever fit into that”? No, of course you can’t. If you want to keep your customers, and not be seen as a mean person, you have to bite your tongue. In this particular situation we offered to remove the zipper in the back of the dress and add ties, which added inches and in this instance, the option to add extra color to the back of her wedding dress. It wound up working wonderfully and she fit into the altered 6.
Another issue that we have as professional’s is that we have to bite out tongues, A LOT. You can’t just come right out and tell someone “that’s going to look horrible if I do that” or “that flower will fall off if we put it there”. You have to strive for happy customers, and to do that, we have to listen and attempt to do what they want. The best way to deal with that is to offer ideas, instead of just telling them how tacky it will be. If they want a big flower on the hip, offer putting a small one on the bodice instead and tell them it is just an option. Most people know that you know what you are doing, and will accept ideas, however if you see that they are steadfast in a decision, then suck it up and do what they ask.
The biggest issue I have is that people try to fit into dresses all the time, when they just can’t do it. I don’t want to be mean, I don’t want to yell or tell them they can’t try it on, but I also don’t like replacing zippers once a week either. The easiest solution we have found is asking them to leave dresses in the dressing room so we can put them up, as well as helping them look for what they need. This gives us an idea of what they are looking for and if they may be one of the ones that we may need to help. I have found that offering kind words of encouragement and offering to help them has lessened our instances of ripped dresses by literally hundreds. I offer to help them zip or tie dresses and show them how each dress can be altered. Another good idea is to remove sizes and put codes on them, that way you know which racks to put them back on, and can ask the customer their clothing size and judge from there which codes to tell them to look for. This helps their self esteem by not seeing numbers, and also saves us the time and effort of constantly fixing items.