I swear I don’t intend to wear dresses that are short.
I have grouped them in my closet as NSFW.
In fact, my favorite dress is this blue Banana Republic dress. The Banana Republic tends to have more conservative dresses, but I still have the same problem. If my legs aren’t overexposed, I feel that my chest is.
It’s not that I want to cover every inch of my body – I would just like to not flash the world every time I sit down on the CTA.
Dresses tend to be too short to function in.
It’s a tall girl problem and it’s a short girl problem. It’s a curvy girl’s moment and a skinny girl’s issue as well.
Dresses aren’t made to fit you off the rack. They’re meant to fit you well enough.
Why Doesn’t My Dress Fit?
A woman shared with me her frustration of finding clothes that fit her. She recalled going to her formals with her sorority.
“I hot glued myself into my dress,” Krista Goral said about the dresses she created in college for special occasions.
Goral went through traditional places like J. Crew to get her clothes and she asked tailors to create a better fit, but there wasn’t a simple answer to find clothes that fit her body.
So, like most entrepreneurs, she created one.
Goral took one idea, one problem, and decided to quit her job in November and pursue her mission—to make dress shopping not only an enjoyable experience but also to create the perfect fit dress for your body. Her company is MeasureMake and it’s exclusively in Chicago.
“A lot of women have one thing that they don’t like, and every woman thinks it’s just her,” said Goral.
In a blog post on MeasureMake, Goral explains that one size doesn’t fit all for the very reason that “there are no standard sizes of people.”
She started with making dresses for herself and then she reached out to what she called “real clients, like people I don’t know,” Goral described, from Reddit and internet searches, where she found Windy City Cosmo.
I was at Paris Fashion Week when I received my invitation to be one of MeasureMake’s real clients.
The dressmaking process began and ended with a personal touch. We had a phone conversation after my trip, and she set up an appointment.
Design Your Dress:
Like every first time, I was nervous. My first and only time being measured was having a bra fitting. And this was a whole dress fitting.
How naked did I have to get for this?
And where was this happening?
I originally was going to to go to Goral’s apartment, but then she came to my apartment because it was more convenient for my schedule.
I opened the door for my personal fitting and there she was—Krista Goral—in a tunic green top and jeans holding her motorcycle helmet.
I told her that she was like Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.
After a brief introduction. We were ready to get down to the main event.
I wore yoga pants and a t-shirt.
Getting Measured For a Custom Dress:
“So how do we do this?” I asked.
She had a notepad and measuring tape. She said I just had to stand up, and she would take my measurements.
I put my arms out, and she draped the measuring tape around me. I resisted the urge to suck in.
It was so fast and harmless that a windy day in Chicago feels more intrusive than getting measured.
After being measured was the fun part. She let me choose between two black fabrics and showed me pictures of how others looked in the dress.
“Can we do a split on the sides?” I asked.
And we took it from there—designing my dress—adding sleeves and discussing the length.
The Fabric to Make a Dress:
Though she had a mission, Goral didn’t have a background in design or fashion. So, she started her business with learning as much as she could. She spent months reading and studying about sewing and fabrics and design.
“The toughest part of designing clothes is finding fabrics,” Goral admitted.
And then, after she purchased the fabric, it was a process of making mistakes.
“You can only fix each seam once—maybe twice or then it ruins the fabric,” Goral said.
She started practicing dress making by designing and sewing dresses for herself.
“I went to a thrift store and bought used silk bed sheets,” Goral said, “They were never to sell, just practice.”
All of her fabric now comes from a mill based in New York. She’s proud that her dresses are 100% made in USA from USA materials.
Since she is making individual dresses, she also didn’t need a lot of fabric, just about 10 yards, which was one of the setbacks in finding a mill.
Currently, she has two fabrics to choose from. They are both black and can be turned into little black dresses—with or without sleeves. One of the fabrics is a stricter material, which is more suitable for a date night little black dress of a suit dress for a business meeting. The other dress fabric is a flowy material and is better suited for a sun dress and as I call them, teacher dresses.
The turnaround from booking an appointment to receiving the dress was quick. Goral said it takes about half a day to complete one dress.
Usually, her dresses require one alteration.
When Goral came to my apartment again to show me the dress, she sat in my living room as she finished watching an episode of Friends.
I closed my walk-in closet door and slipped into the dress.
I had never worn something so fitted. I was nervous looking at every curve on my body in the mirror. I peaked my head out of my closet and said, “Are you ready?”
It was so exciting to see her reaction as I showed her how the dress looked.
I was conscientious of my hips, and we decided to take in the fabric a bit on the bottom and at the waist for a better fit.
Like everything at MeasureMake, Goral adds a personal touch. She never mailed me my dress. She always delivered it in person, even though I live a good 30-45 minute drive away from her.
When I saw the final dress at dinner with her and a friend, I immediately changed into it. Afterward, we had an impromptu photo session in the restaurant. Goral, my dressmaker, actually took all the photos below.
I wore it again to an after-work cocktail party for Kettle One at C Chicago. I paired the little black dress with a suit jacket and it actually looked like a full suit.
Design Your Own Fitted Little Black Dress:
MeasureMake has completed about 15-20 dresses. Now that Goral has styled her family, her real clients, and Windy City Cosmo she’s ready for you to design your own fitted little black dress.
In just 20 minutes, you can be the next Chicago designer and most importantly, wear your own designs.
Book your free appointment with MeasureMake here to design your very own fitted little black dress.
Update February 2017: Since this Chicago startup has launched, you can now make your own custom dress in a variety of colors. MeasureMake dresses have been featured on The Steve Harvey Show with Bela Gandhi, Founder of Smart Dating Academy, and on other Chicago blogs, like LakeShoreLady.com.
Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.