My Mother Is A Part-time Antiques Dealer

March 7, 2011

My mother is a part-time antiques dealer

My mother is a part-time antiques dealer, and one of her specialties is textiles. That usually means dress fabric, but she happened upon some beautiful woolens in an estate sale and was thoughtful enough to buy them for me. She bought four lengths, and gave them to me the last time I was visiting her in San Francisco.

Of course, the question was: what to do with them?

The reality is that even when you have the fabric, the CMT (cut, measure, tailoring) cost is quite high for a suit. Most of the cost comes not from the fabric but from the labor-intensive process of actually putting that jacket together. Things like creating chestpieces and setting sleeves are difficult, time-consuming and thus expensive. Even an affordable Hong Kong tailor like say Peter Lee will generally charge around a thousand dollars.

That wasn’t really in the cards for me, but I did have a little bit of wardrobe budget from my television program, so I decided to have some pants made. My tailor, Mr. Yoo at Pro Tailor in Los Angeles is primarily an alterationist, but I knew he was capable of making clothes, so I asked him how much he would charge. He gave me what I think was a bit of a friends-and-family rate, $125, and I decided to go for it.

I had Mr. Yoo base the pants on a pair of old Oxxford for Abercombie & Fitch pants I had on hand. I like Oxxford’s half-waistband (which you can see in the photos). He did some of the work Oxxford does by hand by machine (though he gave me the option of doing it by hand if I wanted him to), but the result is wonderful. Nice to have a high-waisted pant with a narrower leg.

I figured that as long as I was buying bespoke trousers, I might as well leave off the belt loops. Mr. Yoo didn’t have any waist adjusters on hand, so I made a trip to B. Black & Sons in downtown LA to buy some for him.

I’m absolutely delighted with the three pairs I had made, and I’m going to see if I’ve got the scratch to have a fourth put together, in a light gray flannel. Mr. Yoo was delighted to have the opportunity to work on the pants, and I was excited I could support a local craftsman. (Not to mention excited about my new trousers.)