By Holly J. Coley, (Recycled from August/September 2014, Edition 7)
Photographed by Karen Pearson
Defining your style can feel daunting, especially when the fashion pool can feel so vast. Boho chic, preppy or Hollywood glam: like clothing, these labels don’t always fit. But personalizing your look doesn’t require you to ditch what’s already in your closet. In fact, a new look can be created out of something old.
Allyson Vermeulen knows this better than anyone. A seamstress, she’s been in the business of modifying clothes for more than ten years and sees how transformative taking an inch off of a dragging pant leg or cinching in a slouchy waist can be. “I think you look better and feel better when your clothes fit,” she says.
Her boutique-styled shop, By A Thin Thread, located on 445 Main Street, Beacon, NY, offers customers the chance to edit clothes they own, as well as custom order. According to Vermeulen, there are ways to modernize what you already have. If the original state of the garment allows, some items can be tinkered to reflect current trends. Boot-cut jeans can be turned into straight legged and straight legged into skinny. Dresses can be shortened for summer and baggy blazers taken in. Even a pair of trousers can be converted into dressy culottes, a summer item that can be taken into the fall.
For those who wish to change their wardrobe but are mystified by the process, Vermeulen offers simple advice. For her, personal style became easier once she stopped looking to others and started focusing on what she liked.
Today, Vermeulen creates most of her own clothes, many of them dresses and skirts with a feminine sensibility reminiscent of the ‘40s and ‘50s. She rarely needs to shop because her inspiration doesn’t come from a runway, but her head.
“Making my own clothes helped me define what my style was,” she explains as we discuss the evolution of her fashion sense. “I can see a piece of fabric and I know what I want it to be.”
For those of us who aren’t as gifted with a needle and thread, working with someone like Vermeulen can prove helpful. Along with mending torn blouses and ripped pants she can create custom work for those who want something a little more unique. If finding your specific style still has you stuck you can do what she does: Google it. “I look for something specific I’ve pictured rather than go to a store and see what’s there” she says.
Along with the internet, utilizing style blogs, as well as other forms of social media can also be helpful in getting the thought process flowing when determining what you like. Music and movies can also provide a style reference.