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Custom-made clothes provide perfect fit, style

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Maybe it's the way it drapes your figure like a second skin or perfectly encases your foot like Cinderella's glass slipper.

There's something special about wearing an item that is made just for you.

Women will find plenty of custom-made options right here in Pittsburgh -- cotton shirts, leather skirts, jackets, pants, silk dresses, suede shoes and boots.

"The advantage of having something custom made is that the fit will be perfect," says Meredith Melling Burke, Vogue market editor. "A made-to-measure piece will never pull or gap, which is ultimately more flattering to the wearer."

Leather goods

Roberta Weissburg, owner of Roberta Weissburg Leathers in Shadyside and SouthSide Works, has been custom designing leather garments for more than 30 years from leather pants to skirts to jackets to vests to accessories.

She has designed thousands of garments for private customers, boutiques and the film industry -- most notably "Silence of the Lambs." Weissburg enjoys working with leather because "its rich subtle quality can be applied to everything from lingerie to wedding gowns."

Yes, wedding gowns. Leather may not be what you first think of when considering the material for a gown, but Weissburg has been creating leather bridal and prom dresses for years.

Currently, she is working on creating a replica of a cloth blazer in leather.

Patti Hollingshead from Fox Chapel has several pieces made by Weissburg, including two dresses.

"Roberta is both a designer and an artist," Hollingshead says. "When she makes you something, you have something is beautiful and that no one else has. The people who work for her make sure the garment is a perfect fit. Also, because she works in leather, her pieces are timeless. I carry some of her business cards in my pockets because people always ask me where I got these pieces from."

Jackets start at $795.

Details: 412-681-8188 or 412-488-8008 or www.robertaweissburgleathers.com .

Dresses

For that one of-a-kind occasion, wear a one-of-a-kind gown. Someone who can help you accomplish that is Diana Misetic, owner of the Little Black Dress Store in Shadyside, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Misetic is a fashion designer from Croatia who has been living and working in Pittsburgh since 1994. She creates a line of dresses, tops and skirts from fabrics imported from Italy and Switzerland.

"I love to be original," she says. "And I want it to be perfect because that person is wearing a dress with my name on it. So if she doesn't like it, then that reflects badly on me. When you wear something that is custom made, it just feels good. Making something custom is not easy. It takes a lot of work. But I am so passionate about what I do that I wish there were more hours in the day to work on creating these dresses."

Before she makes a cut in the fabric, Misetic meets with a customer to learn about her personality and lifestyle. If she's going to be moving a lot at an event, for example, Misetic wouldn't suggest a stiff dress. She looks at past outfits the customer has worn to get an idea of her taste.

Misetic started her business offering only black dresses, but has expanded her line to include many colors and patterns. In addition to completely made-from-scratch dresses, she has dress samples available for purchase that she will tailor.

There are many steps involved before the final product is revealed, including fittings. It takes about one to two months from beginning to end. She uses all the best fabrics. Prices begin at $1,500 for completely custom made.

"This is not for everyone," Misetic says. "But if you invest in one of my dresses, it will be something that you've had a part in making. You have to be comfortable with me and trust me, because I will offer my opinion on not just the dress, but on what you should wear with it, such as shoes or jewelry. You will see how different something feels when it fits right. A dress that disappears on you, now that's a good dress."

Details: 412-363-6442 or www.dianamisetic.com .

Shirts

While men have had custom-made shirts available to them for years, it's a newer concept for women. One company that makes these kinds of blouses had its beginnings in the bra business. Rebecca & Drew, with stores in New York City and Houston, discovered that a high percentage of women don't wear the correct bra size and that can affect how a shirt fits.

By next month, Insignia, a Rebecca & Drew line, will be available at Larrimor's, Downtown and in the galleria in Mt. Lebanon. Trunk shows April 8 and 9, Downtown. and April 10 and 11 at the Galleria location include an expert from Rebecca & Drew who will teach Larrimor's employees how to custom fit a woman.

The first step is to determine bra size to prevent gapping at the chest or boxiness at the waist. The blouses are available in two lengths, regular for women 5 feet 5 and shorter, and long for those females 5 foot 6 and taller. There are eight styles, including slim fit, tunic shirt and sash dress. Choose from several fabrics and customize with a type of collar, cuff or sleeve length. Buttons, monograms and embroideries put on the finishing touches.

One interesting feature is a double-button placement allowing customers to decide where they want the first closed button to fall and how much skin they want exposed. Double buttons also provide larger busted women with a more secure fit.

Prices start at $175.

"There are a lot of women who want to wear shirts but don't because they don't fit properly," says Lisa Michael, co-owner and buyer for Larrimor's. "I love this product because it is a product women really want. Men have had custom-made shirts forever, but women haven't. These shirts can be as individual as the woman wearing it."

Details: 412-471-5727, 412-344-5727 or www.larrimors.com .

Shoes and boots

Allison Park native Karin Lund is the founder of Selve shoes, a shoe and boot company in Red Bank, N.J.

"It's a fine line, because we want to make shoes that are comfortable, but we don't want them to look like grandmother shoes," she says. "We are not an orthopedic company. We want our shoes to be fashionable and comfortable."

The process begins with a scan of your feet. After pictures are taken, you choose materials -- leather, suede or satin. You also can select heel heights and color. It takes about four to five weeks to make the shoes or boots. Prices start at $395 for women's shoes.

Selve provides business, dress, casual, bridal and golf shoes, boots and accessories.

"This is a cool concept of designing your own shoes," Lund says. "We can accommodate special sizes and widths that are hard to find in stores. Some people have to go to the children's department because they need that size shoe. Some women have thick calves and standard boots don't fit them. This could be a great gift for someone."

Elizabeth Schaefer of Middlesex, Butler County, has two pair of shoes and two pair of boots from Lund's company.

"What woman would not like to be wearing shoes or boots that she created?" Schaefer says. "The process is very interesting. You get to see the image of your foot on the screen. I have one foot that is a little bit bigger than the other and thick calves, so being able to get shoes and boots that are my exact measurements is wonderful. One pair I love so much, I pretty much wear them every day."

Selve's Karin Lund will be in the area for a trunk show April 3 through 5.

Details: 732-747-4000, 412-638-2610 or www.selve.us .

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