I’ve never been to a tailor in the US. I’d thought about it I suppose, but I guess I just assumed it would be too expensive, and anyway, my Grandma Jean always hemmed my trousers for me on her sewing machine if I really needed it. But here in Russia I don’t have a grandmother with a sewing machine (although one could probably be adopted), so a couple years ago when I bought some corduroys that were too long, I swallowed my fear of awkwardness and went to the tailor in the nearby shopping center.

It was a very positive experience. The tailor, a tall, skinny middle-aged man from the Caucasus, was friendly and professional, did the job well and with a one-day turnaround, and I think it only cost 200 rubles (about $7 at the time). I later had him shorten another pair as well as some sleeves on a suit jacket.

Recently I decided to try something a little more complicated. I had some skirts and dresses that never quite fit just right, too big in the waist, and I decided to get them altered, though I was a little worried that this procedure had a greater chance of failure than leg or sleeve shortening. I live in a different neighborhood now, but after a quick glance at the grumpy woman in the nearest tailor shop, I decided to go back to my friendly tailor in the old neighborhood.

Only he wasn’t there. Instead I met Tamara, who works there part-time, who did an amazing job on my three dresses and skirts for only 800 rubles total. If you want her number I can give it to you. There’s no excuse for wearing ill-fitting clothes in Russia, when tailoring is so good and affordable.