Customary Clothing Q&A

We interview owner, Bree Perry, about her custom clothing shop.

By Eden Dawn June 28, 2012

A maxi dress available off the rack or to custom size.
Image courtesy Holly Hoover/ Eyes + Edge

We’ve all been there.

You fall in love with a garment, try on three different sizes, but somehow it never quite fits. Or maybe you look at it on the rack and after your fashion heart flutters for a second, you see it’ll never fit your too broad/too narrow/too high/too low of shoulders and walk away disheartened while feeling like Quasimodo and cursing your genetic pool.

Bree Perry, owner of Customary Clothing, understands those feelings. She founded her new line to attend to all those issues with both ready-to-wear and custom made clothing for her clients to ensure no one has to leave her 811 E. Burnside space with even the tiniest bit of self-loathing. We caught up with Perry to get more details on her new venture.

Eden Dawn: What was the inspiration for Customary Clothing?

Bree Perry: Customary Clothing was inspired by fit. Prior to owning Customary, I owned Breedom, a Public Sewing House. I had so many clients come in wanting to learn to sew because they can never find clothes that fit. In their eyes, poor fit was due of an endless amount of body issues. "My butt is too flat." "My shoulders are so broad." "My legs are too skinny." Honestly, this may sound harsh… but they’re boring complaints. The clothing is wrong, not the body in the clothing. Customary is helping women make the decision to move past our issues with our bodies and start dressing in clothing that fits and subsequently flatters.

E.D: Why do you think that people don’t often wear properly fitted clothing?

B.P: I don’t think most people realize that there is any other option. A lot of stores offer clothes off-the-rack, as-is, take it or leave it. It’s got to do with the business side of the apparel industry. The vast majority of garments out there are constructed to industry sizes in enormous quantities to keep the cost of production low. It’s got nothing to do with customer needs and everything to do with profit margins. Why would it fit? It wasn’t made to fit, it’s made to sell. At best you’re buying something that comes close to fitting.

E.D: How do you make sure a garment perfectly fits your customer?

B.P: For our customizable garments, I have clients come in and try on a sample that is closest to their standard store-bought size. If it fits… Score! You can purchase it then and there. If it’s not a perfect fit, I treat it like a standard alteration… pinning out the areas with excess fabric and making notes about places that could do with being let out a bit. Once the garment is pinned to the appropriate fit, then I’ll will talk with the client about what, if anything, isn’t quite working for them. Maybe the hem should move up or down or perhaps some trim is desired…I’ve even gone so far as to switch up fabrics. It’s all about possibilities.

For custom garments I start with the clients measurements, make a custom sloper, pattern the garment from the sloper, then create a muslin mock-up. After the first fitting, I source fabric and make the garment. If it’s a particularly detailed garment I’ll have the client back in for a second fitting to be sure there are no final changes that need to be made. Once the finishing work is done and the appropriate closure is installed, it’s ready for wearing.

E.D: What’s been the most often requested item?

B.P: Since I opened two months ago, it’s been a steady stream of custom dresses which is really exciting for me. It’s giving me the chance to grow and really find my voice as a designer. Creating a garment that fulfills the needs of a client and also stays true to my design is pretty fantastic.

E.D: What do you think sets you apart from a traditional tailoring place?

B.P: It’s funny, I’ve never really considered the shop a tailoring place. In my mind it’s always been a design studio/clothing shop. Keeping in line with our mission of fit, we do offer alterations and have a wonderfully talented alterations specialist that works with me so that Customary can provide that service. A tailoring shop though, I don’t see Customary as that.

E.D: Anything exciting coming up?

B.P: There’s lots of exciting things happening at the shop right now. Each month we’ve got a First Friday art opening. For July, our Art Curator, Jason Brown (of Half/Dozen gallery), has put together a show featuring the works of Christine Taylor. Christine does a lot of fashion photography however this show, ‘American Anthology’ is a collection of human landscape photographs taken around the US.

Additionally I’ve got a project in the works with a number of local musicians that explores the Portland music scene through the lens of fashion. Right now, I’m working on a killer pair of pants for Luz Mendoza, the front-woman of Y LA Bamba, that she’ll be wearing onstage at Pickathon.

To explore Customary Clothing visit the shop at
811 E Burnside #222
Thu – Sun: 12-6 pm

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