I am a seamstress with the goal of helping men and women look their best. Young girls, in particular, seek my help and advice on looking their best. Some of my customers regard me as a style coach and seek my advice about alterations they could make to a gown or dress and accessories they could choose in order to make the very best impression possible.
I have a talent for recognizing style together with years of experience in helping generations of women to look their best in any venue and for every occasion. I sometimes will use a style technique that I saw in a book or a movie, or one that I saw perhaps years before in a fashion show.
The fact is, a simple alteration or accessory can transform a person’s appearance. For example, adding the right style bracelets or set of bracelets to a sleeveless top can sometimes greatly increase the impact of a lovely gown or cocktail dress. If the top of a gown seems too plain, I have been able to use the extra fabric from hemming the dress to create a flower that is placed on the bodice providing a stunning effect.
Some of the challenges are very specific. One girl held up a dress. “I bought this and want to wear it but I don’t like the way it looks,” she said. She had nice long legs, so I opened the garment at the knees and made a few other alterations, which changed the effect of the dress completely.
One lady came to me with a silver wedding dress. “I will look like a Christmas Tree,” she said. I took a swatch of material from a place in the dress where it would not be visible and made it look like a scarf with a small flower attached. It was like a new dress. The woman took before-and-after pictures to show the transformation.
Some girls come to me with dresses they had ordered online. A dress that appeared to be beautiful on a website now looks funny when they try it on. They feel underwhelmed by the effect they are making. They want to turn heads. They want strangers, their friends, and especially their dates to look at them with admiration and maybe a touch of awe. They are often delighted with the dramatic changes I’ve been able to make in their appearance with little more than a piece of material or a piece of jewelry.
Girls will often come to me only a couple days before the prom with tears in their eyes. I might add a nice item or two — perhaps some sequins or small stones taken from my big box of costume accessories. Or I might put together a string of beads. Under my hands the dress is transformed into a truly lovely garment.
My husband, Zalman, sometimes accuses me of taking too much time on a project, but for me it is not like work. I’m not like a machine; I labor from my heart. Sometimes I go to bed with a project on my mind and in the middle of the night will suddenly get a revelation of how the job should be done.
When appropriate, I use the encounters with my clients to raise awareness of the importance of style. In one case, a mom and her daughter brought a dress for alteration that the girl was going to wear to a prom. The dress needed steam ironing to remove wrinkles. However, since the event would be held in the evening, the mom imagined that nobody would see the wrinkles.
I used the situation in order to teach them a lesson my mom taught me when I was young. I was preparing to go to the cinema with my boyfriend and my mother asked me, “You are going to go in this dress?” I said that it didn’t matter much what dress I wear. Mom told me, “Olga, you need to look like a queen and feel like a queen because people will then see you as a queen, and you will find a nice boy.”
So I said to the girl. “You need to feel like a queen in this dress. Without wrinkles you will be like a queen.”
The mom said, “I never thought of that.”
I told her, “You need to teach your daughter to be a queen when she goes out.”
Helping girls look their best at proms is far from the only thing I do. Women continually bring me their wedding dresses and clothing from their trousseau for me to alter and accessorize in order to make the greatest positive impact. Men also bring their suits for me to alter into a perfect fit. As necessary, I will give them advice about style, since some of them don’t really know how to wear the fine suit they just bought. For example, I might show them how they can make them seem slimmer by making the pants narrower.
My roots with sewing and alteration go back to my Grandma Pasha, who was a tailor. She taught me to sew when I was seven years old. “You are a woman,” she said. “You need to know how to sew.”
However, I didn’t awaken to the joys of making clothes beautiful until I got up one morning from a dream of making a beautiful dress for my daughter. I made the dress and was soon sewing beautiful dresses for customers. I had discovered the joy of sewing and put my heart into helping other people look their best.
The happiness of the customer and not the payment is the big payoff for me. I love to watch a woman’s eyes light up when she puts the dress on and then sees herself in the mirror. The men are also sometimes delighted when they see the difference my alterations have made in the overall effect. They now feel ready and confident to take their girlfriend out dining and dancing. “I want to hug you, Olga,” one of them said. However, no matter how pleased they are with what I did for them, I am even happier that I was able to do that.