FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS .........Uptight Clothing home Page
Hopefully below any questions you may have will be answered, if not, please email Janice via the contacts page with any quires.
Students, scroll to bottom of page...
Most common Question.............................Why so expensive??????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
'If you want to quote me for publicity purposes, please do – I am only too happy to sing your praises. You’re not cheap, just very, very good. As my grandmother used to say: “Beauty lasts long after price is forgotten” and I am going to looking at my wedding photos in that dress and smiling for a long, long time.' Tania , real bride.
This answer is a long one, we had hoped that the gowns themselves would speak for them themselves, but sometimes a detailed explanation is needed....so here goes...
General answer....Shop, off the peg gowns....are mass produced, often abroad, where wages and quality of life are very low, there will be thousands of other brides wearing the same dress. They will also need to be altered, often changing the shape/line of the dress.
The dress is not made to fit you, and you alone. With any personal details you may wish to add to the dress.
But my friend can sew/local dress maker /ebay..., can do it much cheaper..?
The saying, 'you get what you pay for' is very true... having a friend or other designer may be cheaper, but Uptight Clothing is a business, ran from a purpose designed premises. The difference between a proper business, and making the occasional dress, (this may also help if you are considered starting your own business, *go to the bottom of this page for more details).
Reliabilty....when having an gown made by Uptight clothing, you will enter into a contract, stating time scales of when your dress will be completed, as Janice works to a planned schedule for each dress, although fitting dates are flexible and may move, it is Janice job to have your dress completed on time, generally two weeks before hand, for your wedding, so the bride does not have to worry. If the dress is being made by a friend, they will probably have a job, and be making it in their spare time, this can prove stressfully to them and the bride, and can cause strain on a relationship, and in some cases can leave a bride with out a dress. When having a dress made by Uptight, you can relax in the fact it will be done on time.
......Bring your friends to the fittings, and enjoy the experience of being the center of attention, and having your own dress made in comfortable, relaxed, and more importantly, sparkly surroundings of the showroom! Not only are the sample gowns to see in person and try on, but jewellery to try with your gown, and have made to measure to compliment your design, but also boots and shoes. Janice can also help with finding a hairdresser, makeup artist, colours for brides maids.....all from one place!
The same can apply having a dress made overseas, with out going into the political and social issues of having things mass produced overseas, there is a chance your dress will not be as you expected or not fit, and in some cases, not arrive in time.....!
Costs of running a couture bridal business;
Things you will expect....the cost of the fabrics, not just the external fabrics you see, but the internal linings, backings, bones, eyelets, threads....
Good suppliers of all the above take years to build up/find, appropriate fabrics, and where possible, rare and unique one to your business.This is a competitive business, so finding a unique style or niche market helps.
Machinary....The cost of running/servicing sewing machines, even if you work on your own, more than one machine is needed, god forbid it breaks in the peak season, then there's over lockers, embroidery machines, industrial irons....
Premises...The renting of a premises to work from, not just the cost of the rent, but electricity, water rates, business rates, heating, phone, internet connection, alarms, cleaning, maintance.....And don't forget, everything from tea bags, cups, toilet rolls need to be costed for.
*(Cont' at bottom of page)
Below is the best by far explanation Uptight has found by a fellow maker on why wedding dresses can cost so much, Many thanks to harmanhay for being such a good writer as well as maker!..
'So he finally asked; you said yes; your parents (or your credit card) have come through with the cash, and it's time to find the wedding dress you've been waiting for all your life!
You're looking in stores, online, you're calling dressmakers, and there are a few ideas you like the look of.
But wait - how much?
This is ridiculous. You know clothes. You've been buying clothes all your adult life. Clothes don't cost this much. What a rip-off! This isn't just expensive, it's verging on criminal! And everyone's doing it! You can't win!
Woah there, girl. Wedding dresses are more expensive than you're used to, yes. But this isn't just the result of a mercenary industry profiteering from your childhood dreams.
Wedding dresses can come from one of two sources. They're either mass-produced (many of the same dress are made in a factory) or they're individually made by a dressmaker you've hired. Let's look at both of these options.
Manufactured wedding gowns
When you walk into a regular bridal store, you'll find racks of wedding dresses made by a range of designers. The owner of the store is making her living from it. She's paying rent on her store and all the other costs associated with retail, and yet there aren't nearly as many brides buying wedding dresses as there are women buying clothes. She has to charge more to make it work, so she has marked up each dress by 100% or so. In other words, half of the price you're paying goes to the store.
The dresses came from design companies where a designer is paid to come up with each season's new look. These few looks must be taken to shows and promoted to the bridal stores in the hope that our bridal store owner will buy - trust me, this costs big bucks! Again, these companies aren't making as many dresses as, say, Banana Republic or Next, so each must cost more so that everyone can still pay the rent.
And somewhere, perhaps in the Third World, there are some women sitting at sewing machines making a few pennies a day making your dress. They get the least of all. (Spare a thought particularly for the lady who must sew beads onto your wedding dress - this cannot be done by machine.
Hiring a dressmaker
Have you tried asking a dressmaker for a quote? If she knows what she's worth, your ears will have melted on hearing the price. Many dressmakers try to compete with bridal stores, but they're doing themselves a disservice. A great custom made wedding gown should cost thousands. But why?
The easiest way to explain is to use food (bizarre as it sounds!)
Katie decides that she wants to go out for dinner tonight. She has a choice of places to go. She can go to a local restaurant and select what she wants from a menu. The chef has prepared most of the dishes in advance, and he simply needs to heat it up, add the finishing touches and out it goes.
(This is a lot like buying a wedding dress in a store - you find something in the store that you like, they make a few adjustments and you're good to go. This works for most people.)
But what if Katie's very particular? Actually she wants a specific meal (whether or not it's on anyone's menu), tailored to her personal dietary needs and her taste with just the right amount of seasoning, just as she likes it. It's an important meal, the most important of her life perhaps (ok, now I'm stretching the metaphor) and she wants it done right by a true professional. Nothing can go wrong.
She's going to have to hire a professional chef. How will the price of hiring him compare to the price of a spaghetti bolognese at Mario's around the corner?
Now you're getting the picture!
"The Black Pearl" gown by Harman Hay (2007), based on a dress worn by Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean A dressmaker or couturier will design a single gown just for you. It will have every detail you heart desires. A unique pattern will be made just for you, and the fabric will be bought at retail price (your dressmaker won't be needing hundreds of yards of your particular choice of creamy, slightly pinky-blue silk satin, so wholesale isn't an option.)
While hundreds or thousands of store dresses are cut at once with a huge machine in the factory, your dressmaker will cut each piece of your unique gown individually with scissors. She will work out how to put it together and go through that process step by step. The "Black Pearl" dress that you see here took over 70 hours to make; the gold corsetted one further up took around 140 hours to make. (How much are you paid for a month's work?)
The ironic thing about the price of a wedding dress is that however expensive it seems to you, no-one on the other side of the fence is rubbing their hands with mercenary glee.
Most ironic of all, the skilled dressmaker or couturier will charge a lot for your gown, yes, but after all the fabric is bought and the sewing machine is paid for and so on, when she spends 120 hours making your gown how much does that work out at for her, overall, a skilled craftsperson with a long career and much expertise?
In my experience over the last twelve years, a dressmaker makes between $6-$14 per hour. Trust me, no-one's ripping you off!'
Link to whole artical;
Further links to Harmanhays works are listed below at the student section....
Do you make men's wear?
Not currently, Uptight specializes in corseted gowns, a tailor would be best for men's wear. But we can put you in contact with other makers/tailors whom work is known to be of a very high standard, specifically in period tailoring. If you are wanting a relatively 'normal' suit, it is best to go a local tailor, who should be able to help you, matching waistcoats can be made to involve embroideries to match the bridal party.
Excellent period and modern tailor, costume maker, is based round the corner from Uptight Clothing. Available for men's and ladies suits, period costumes & wedding dresses, more general & historical, ie medieval, 50's etc..than specifically corseted.
We are happy to synchronize our fitting schedules with each other to fit both the bride and groom on the same day, avoiding extra journeys. A portfolio of Wendy's work will soon be on the Uptight web site, until then, please feel free to make an appointment with her on the above number.
Below is the stunning midnight velvet frock coat made by Wendy
Can I have something completely different or a combination of different designs?
Yes, Uptight specializes in designing gowns for the individual, We are happy to design from your ideas, We can work from a colour, a theme, a loose idea of something involving a particular symbol, animal, flower ...ideas tend to grow from meeting the client, then looking at colours, styles and having a general get to know you chat, but please bear in mind all Uptight gowns are corset based. The designs on the web site are examples of what can be done, also shown are variations on real clients, and how designs are adapted to suit a clients shape, and theme. Combinations of various styles is generally what happens, or something new, its completely up to you!
Original Dragonfly..............................................................Dragonfly variation on real bride.
Is wearing a corset uncomfortable? They look so tight; will I be able to breathe?
Well made corsets are snug, but not uncomfortable. Uptight Clothing makes a pattern for YOU, which fits comfortably at the ribs and hips and compresses only your waist, allowing you to breath.
posing still possible...
Just how small can I make my waist?
Waist reduction can be from 3 to 8 inches, depending on your natural waist size and build, as well as how far your lower ribs are from your hipbones.
Example, taking a 50" waist to a 42" waist is normal,there is a lot of scope for redistributing the waist, a corset will not make it disappear! It will sculpt it into an more elegant shape....but a tiny natural waist of 22", a 2"-4" is normal, the smaller the waist, the less the reduction, unless there is a particularly wide gap between the ribs and the hip bone.
For tight lacing, the waist needs to be trained, gradually, along with a healthy diet and exercise
The bridal corset made at Uptight are made to each clients individual measurements, and their own tightening preference, a corset does not need to be very tight to re shape the waist and make you look stunning. All Uptight corsets are made to be flattering and have a comfortable amount of tightening, no fainting necessary!
Above, Dawn...real bride.
Below, Bex...wearing the Anenome design.
Do you use professional models for your photos?
All of the models on this site are REAL women, they are mostly previous customers (see Real Life Brides), with some of our friends helping us out as well. We do not believe in the 'perfect' figure here at Uptight Clothing as we know that everybody is different, and we will also endeavor to make your chosen garment fit YOU personally.
I'm not a skinny model type; do you have corsets that will fit me?
Because our corsets are made to measure for you personally, we can produce one that will fit and flatter you beautifully. We can and do make corsets for women of all shapes and sizes.
Most of the collection in the Gowns section are held a s samples, in varying sizes, some of the older designs may not be available to try on, but there are corsets in most sizes to try on to give you an idea of what your gown could look like, along with many different fabrics to drape for colour reference, and embroidery samples to play with....and lots of other sparkly things.....
Corsets seems like an expensive item, why should I buy from you instead of buying one `off-the-shelf`?
Uptight Clothing use precise measurements to draft a pattern to fit YOU perfectly. `Off-the-shelf` corsets are made to fit a nonexistent average. They also usually attempt to compress your ribs and hips as much as your waist, which makes for an uncomfortable fit and less attractive waist curve.
Leeanne, real bride....some things just cannot be bought off the peg....
Can I use my corsets to help me lose weight?
A corset will compress your stomach during wearing, but when you remove it your waist returns to it's normal size! It's very important to continue to eat small regular meals. Proper nutrition is necessary to your health and well being. Suppressing your appetite with a corset is not a good idea! You should always consult your doctor or dietician for a proper weight loss diet.
Is a corsets & dress combination restrictive?
Yes! You will not be able to move around as much as if you were wearing jeans and t-shirt, but the effect is absolutely stunning and will make you look like `The Belle of the Ball` so it is well worth it!
Below..real bride Jane...still able to make a run for it!
....and ride a horse!
Do corsets stretch?
No, but with wear and body heat they will 'give' a little and mould to your body shape, becoming more comfortable to wear.
Sitting and laughing, still ok!
What if I need a particular fabric?
Many of the designs on the web site are made from silks, we try as much as possible to used natural fabrics, made in the U.K. Although, as a vegan herself, Janice understands an individuals needs and requirements, if you are wanting a gown made from all non animal source, or all natural fibre, she will do her very best to find the appropriate fabric, and dye it if necessary.
Do you make bridesmaids dresses?
Not as a rule, this is mainly as it works out very expensive. Generally Uptight is fully booked making corseted wedding gowns, so any brides maids gowns would be made up at the same rate, corseted or not, with the starting rate at £2200.00, this may be too much if you have many brides maids, but it really depends on your individual budget.
If you do want your bridesmaids to wear corsets, it may be an option to have their corset made here , with the skirt made/bought else where, Monsoon make stunning bridesmaids/evening wear in many fantastic colours.
Uptight is happy to supply any fabrics need to make bridesmaids, or menswear, if you have another maker, and can give you some recommended names. This service is only available to Uptight customers, there are many fabric shops all over the country that supply beautiful bridal fabrics.
Below, real bride Rachael, with matching bridesmaid dress, made by wendy, also cravat and hankie.
Why is it important to keep things made in the UK?
Although things made abroad can be much cheaper, this is generally due to poor unfair wages and working conditions. Many wedding gowns are made in China and India, and shipped over, with a huge mark up, the main winner in this game is the shop owner. Having a couture gown made in the uk, will ensure that not only will you be dealt with personally all the way, with all fittings in person, (here are no extra charges for fittings or alterations with a couture gown) having complete control over every aspect of your gown, it also ensures that the person making it is receiving a fair days pay, for a fair days work.
Students, general questions...
Uptight is happy to answer most questions you ask, sometimes it may take a while when things are busy.
If you are a corset lover, and interested in going into this area, sometimes, time allowing it may be possible for you to visit and have a chat.
Fabric samples; currently fabric cut offs are given to a local collage, but if you send a stamped, self addressed envelope,(Ideally A4 bubble envelope, with aprox £1.50 postage ) it would be possible to send you fabric cut offs from the time.
Sorry, no brochure available, most things are on the website, which is updated regularly.
Work experience is not normally possible, as there is no spare time to give any valuable time to teaching, when things are busy, but as above, am happy to give you any advice.
Jobs, Currently Uptight is not employing, although things may change in the future, sometimes it is possible to pass you details onto a colleague who is looking .looking for a job in this area. This is generally a case of calling the right place, at the right time, don't give up, enthusiasm, skill and perseverance go a long way in this business.
Uptight regularly gets emails from students and people wanting to make their own corsets, if I can send them tips on how to make their corsets. Unfortunately, unless you live near me, (which I am happy to have you come to the workshop and shoe you some things when its quiet..) But unfortunately I don't know of any quick how to make a corset method that can be written on a few pages. I am a very visual person, and cut my patterns on the stand, (draping), as any kind of drafting via mathematical calculation is beyond me! So my only advice would be, get your self a stand, an ex shop display or dress makers stand can be bought cheaply of places like ebay, or a car boot sale, and try cutting your own pattern on the stand, you can also pad the stand to your size to get the pattern to nearer your size. But you will still need to tidy up and measure the pattern once its off the stand. ......
But ...just because I can't, doesn't mean others cannot, ...but there is some one who is doing a great service to the costume/corset making lovers out there. And she, Cathy Harmanhay, does have brilliant written tutorials on these subjects, as well as blogs, forums etc.. putting you in contact with other makers who can all give out advice.
Some of these are subscription based, but soooo worth it. For those of you who can remember pre internet, we had to gather information via books and classes, who all cost a lot of money, as you are paying for the time an expert had spent gathering this information, and teaching you. Very much a fair price to pay for learning a trade I think. But with so much free information on the web, people expect it all to be free. But please bear in mind, that the really useful stuff, it will have been written the same way a s book, by an expert, who has bills to pay, just like you, so deserves to be paid for giving out this information. Its not just the information that they are giving out, but the time it takes to put something like this together, in a easy to understand, literate way. This is not easy, trust me. yes, I am dyslectic, and it really shows on the website, but hey, hopefully all the pics make up for the shocking English...
These are a few of Cathy's websites, all full of very useful information re corset and general costume making.
I have been very slow on the uptake of these kinds of things, as there are so many things to read on the Internet I just give up, as you could literally spend your life reading all the useful information on there, and really , I should be sewing! But it is great to find out there are so many other great makers out there, loving what they do, and willing to show you how to do it too.
Maybe I will try to teach one day, I have had a few students in the past, but, to be honest i think I am crap teacher...but I am working on it...there is definitely a skill to being able to show someone else how to do something as to just being able to do it your self. as these skills need to be passed down to the next generations, other wise soon we will have forgotten how to sew as much as we have forgotten how to grow food and cook.....
Another very usefull note from www.laracorset.com FAQ page,
'Please understand, we are not secretive or rude, just very busy....'
'Can you tell me how to make a corset?'
'This question frustrates me greatly, please don't ask me. It is not at all simple answer. I have spent over 20 years making corsets and I am still learning new things. You will not magically make a perfect corset your first time. You will have to research and experiment. There is no magic pattern guaranteed to fit everyone perfectly (I wish there were!). Everyone's body and measurements are different, patterns will need to be altered with mock-ups and fittings. Corset making is not easy, you will get frustrated, you will make mistakes. It is a skill acquired only with determination and practice. '
'That said, here's a book and some patterns I recommend to help give you a head start:'
The Basics of Corset Building, by Linda Sparks
The Laughing Moon corset pattern
This is an excellent pattern with great instructions and a instructional DVD you can buy as well
The Truly Victorian corset pattern, TV110
I love this companies patterns and own most of them.
'I am a student or person doing research, can you help me with my project?'
I would love to help you but I just do not have the time. The questions I receive from those like you are often complex and without short or simple answers. There is a ton of info on my website and I hope it is helpful. For further research I recommend you look into one of the many books listed below.
Bibliography & recommended reading on corset history
The History of Underclothes - by C. Willet and Phillis Cunnington ISBN 0-486-27124-2
The Corset - by Valerie Steele ISBN 0-300-09071-4
Corsets and Crinolines - by Norah Waugh ISBN 0-87830-526-2
Support and Seduction - by Beatrice Fontanel ISBN 0-8109-4086-8
Waisted Efforts - by Robert Doyle ISBN 096830390-0
Foundations of Fashion - by Christopher Page
'(back in the days before the internet we older folks had to read lots of books to find answers ;-)'
Most common Question.....Why so expensive?.....Cont' from top of page...
.....And all the rest...
As a business, even a very small business, all uptight products include VAT, an addition of 17.5% to anything Uptight charges, For example, on a £3000.00 dress, nearly £1000.00 of this will be VAT, and tax, all this goes before the cost of the fabrics, business costs and then profit...so much for this government helping small businesses, it seams to want to cripple them! This has to be paid to the government, we hate it, you hate it, but it has to done! Then an accountants costs to work all this out....
Any new dress made, will need to be modeled , photographed, put on to the web site/portfolio/publicized.
All this costs, if it was not done, no one would know about it! Having a stunning collection, but no one knows about it, is useless!
Running a web site costs, having magazine advertising , costs...a lot....but it is all essential.
So brides know what Uptight can do, and to see how it will work on them...there are sample gowns made, in various sizes, styles, they are not just sample gowns, but new designs/collections, to show just what Uptight can do, and inspire the bride for new designs, or making a current design her own, by changing the style to suit her personality and shape.
Janice try's to make 1-3 sample gowns a year, to expand on the collection, and exercise new ideas, this is an essential part of the business, but extremely time consuming and costly.
How many do you make a year...?
Uptight Clothing is a small business, this is deliberate, and Janice wants it to stay this way.
By making all the corsets/gowns herself, with help from Bex, Uptight's trainee, once a week, and occasional help from Wendy, who works with Uptight on menswear. By doing it all herself, this allows a very personal service, you will only ever deal with Janice, from every phone call, email, consultation, fitting, to dressing on the day. You can get to know each other, by getting to know your designer/maker, this knowledge will come out in the final design. At each fitting you can see your dress develop, and have complete say on what is happening, and also the experience and advice of Janice to talk you through any quires and calm you nerves.
Being a small scale business, there are only 12-20 gowns made a year, depending on the style of the dress. So this does not make for a multi million pound industry, but it does make for a high quality, personal service.
Janice is not just good 'dressmaker',this is a full time occupation, with many years of skilled training in Art, design, fashion and theatrical costume, to learn the skills of design, cut, fit and making to create the perfect corseted wedding gown.
So when you wonder why the gowns are so expensive, and when you could take the picture off the web site, to a local dress maker for half the price, there is a reason for the difference in cost. Uptight prices are not hiked up for massive profits, but the creating of a couture corsted gown, is more than just the cost of the thing you see, the fabric and time spend, but all the other things that go into running a business, to a professional, high standard. Making the part of having a couture corseted gown made especially for you, an exiting and enjoyable experience.
Janice will never be rich from the profits of making couture bridal wear, its just not possisble, but sadly, she does it for love, (and the fact she will never be a rocket sceintist....!) and she hope this shows in the finished product.
Uptight is not the only place to be asked on a regular basic why so much....do you stuff your mattress with bank notes surely...!!?!?!
*Premises...All the kiting out of the premises. Although Uptight works by appointment, there is a separate showroom for clients, this is a comfortable space, with many gowns on show, shoes, boots, jewelry, portfolios, kitchen, toilet, and parking. All with space to show the client through the collection in a peaceful surround, with just the designer/maker Janice, who will sit down go through hundreds of fabric possibilities, try on samples, and do a design while you are there. Appointments can take between 1-4 hours hours. These are free to potential clients, but while these are being done, sewing time is lost, so all need to be calculated in to the running of the business. This space is also used for fittings, between 3-5 fittings, depending on client and design.
*There is a work room, where all the work is carried out by hand. This needs to be big enough to have all the machines, cutting table, and lots of storage, for gowns, current and future, and also stocks of fabric, haberdashery. Also a work station for paperwork, all internet/web site things, computers, printers, books, ......etc....
*To be able to have premises, with the public coming in and out, you will need insurance, not just for all the stock, machinery, sample gowns, but also the clients gowns in production, and ...Public liability insurance, incase they have an accident in your premises. This costs over £1000.00 a year!
*As a self employed person, you will get none of the above, if you are sick, you have to work very hard to catch up, when every one is off on bank holidays, you will probably be working. Pensions, this will need to taken out of any profit you make.
*'But, surely, being your own boss, you can do what you like, days off when you want...?' Yes, if you have no work on, take the day off, but why have you go no work on...? If you have no work on, that time is probably spent trying to get some!