Staying en vogue without going broke

With the economy on the downturn, finally repairing the clothes you already own is a quick save

ORLANDO, Fla. (MCT) – Spring fashions are starting to sprout up, and it’s mighty tempting to pluck a few early-blooming styles to add a dash of fresh color to tired winter wardrobes.

But wait. In these strained economic times, is it really prudent to splurge on more clothes, shoes and accessories when your closet is already stuffed to capacity? Especially when plenty of those items, long relegated to the back of the closet, need just a stitch, button or clasp to make them good as new?

There is no better time than now, when budgets are tight, to do what you’ve been meaning to do for ages: Hem those too-long pants, re-heel those scuffed-heel shoes, restring that broken necklace, or reattach that dangling purse handle.

You don’t even have to do it yourself. There are plenty of tailors, seamstresses, cobblers, jewelers and others who are able to do it for you. You can find them listed in the Yellow Pages and on the Web. But the best recommendations come from satisfied customers, so be sure to ask friends, neighbors, co-workers and sales associates for referrals.

Restoration and repairs do cost money, of course, but nowhere near as much as those tempting spring fashions.


All it takes to make some garments wearable again is for a ripped hem to be restitched or a loose button sewn back on.

However, it may take the skills of a tailor to handle major alterations such as shortening shirt sleeves, narrowing jacket shoulders, reshaping collars, remaking skirts and taking in trousers at the waist.

There is a limit to what even a skilled tailor can do to resize a garment if someone has lost more than 20 pounds or gained more than 10 pounds, he says. And a jacket can only be shortened by about an inch before the pockets sit too low.

Also, unless a suit or jacket was really expensive initially and still is in excellent condition, “it probably is more economical to buy a new suit off the rack than take the old one down three sizes,” Sadler said.

Here are approximate costs of seamstress/tailoring services:

&bull Suits: downsize, $130; take in front, $35; shorten sleeves, $35.

&bull Pants: adjust hem and cuffs, $14; adjust waist, seat, top of legs and length, $55; adjust waist, $14.

&bull Buttons: sew on, $5 minimum.


Replacing the soles and heel caps on footwear are the most common repairs, said Bertha Restrepo of Zuelas Shoe Repair and Clothing Alteration in Orlando. Other services include replacing or re-covering broken or scuffed heels, gluing or stitching loose parts back together and dyeing shoes.

Most shoe-repair shops also rehabilitate purses and belts.

Here are approximate minimum costs of shoe repairs. Cost is per-pair unless otherwise noted. Because of their larger size, boot repairs run at least 25 percent higher than the shoe prices noted here:

&bull For men: replace heel, $16; heel and half-sole, $40; full sole, $45; dye, $20

&bull For women: replace heel caps, $7.50; heel caps and half sole, $26; heel repair, $10 per shoe; stitching, $5; dye, $16


“People have no idea: They think if a chain breaks, it can’t be repaired. If a ring doesn’t fit, it can’t be resized. All jewelry can be repaired, resized or restyled,” said Pam Abramson, owner of the P. J. Abramson jewelry store in Winter Park, Fla.

Restringing pearls is another common service. Some customers even have favorite necklaces restrung in different lengths to suit different outfits, she says.

Broken clasps can usually be repaired, unless the spring is broken. In that case, a replacement is required. Clasps are fairly costly because they are complicated to make, Abramson said. A simple clasp for fine jewelry may cost $20, but a clasp in 18-karat gold for a heavy bracelet may run $200 or more.

The refurbishing of antique jewelry is an increasingly popular service she said. “A lot of baby boomers are inheriting pieces from their mothers. They may want a piece repaired or strengthened, or they may want it restyled and the stones reset.”

The cost is tied to intricacy of the redesign and the time needed to complete the work.

For costume jewelry and inexpensive pieces, repairs and redesign services are available at bead stores, which also stock inexpensive clasps and other supplies.

Here are approximate costs of common jewelry-repair services:

&bull Resize ring: $25-$40.

&bull Restring pearls: $1.50 per inch with knots, far less without knots, but the pearls may be lost if an unknotted strand breaks.

&bull Repair clasp: $15.

&bull Replace clasp: $20-$200.