Have you ever moaned out loud, “I have nothing to wear!?” even if your closet is brimming with clothes, shoes and accessories? Perhaps it’s more precise to say, “I have nothing
(that looks perfect on me) to wear!” Sure, there are the malls, the retail shops we can run to when in a pinch, but the sizes are sometimes irregular and you also run the risk of looking like another panic buyer at a party. This was exactly the dilemma that Elthy Aguinaldo-Irasga experienced, prompting her to start her line of clothes Tinsley Manila back in 2005. “I started doing blouses for my mom and for myself because I couldn’t find clothes in styles that I wanted, that fit me perfectly. Everything was either too long, too tight in some areas and nothing fit me or my mom just right,” Irasga says. I could totally sympathize with Irasga’s frustration, being a rather in-between-sizes girl myself.
I decided to check out her online catalog and was attracted to many of the shift dressesand stylish tunics that I found. The website is pretty comprehensive, with a step-by-step guide on how to order, and even giving you flexibility in terms of color and fabric options. Even better, if online shopping is still unfamiliar or distrusted territory, you can call up and get them to come to you. Brilliant. Bright and early on a Saturday morning I welcomed two of Tinsley’s staff who showed up with catalogs, sample pieces and a whole load of swatches of fabrics and colors I could choose from. Most of their clients opt for bright and happy colors and prefer cotton (stretch cotton broadcloth, satinized twill, Italian cotton, Swiss cotton, cotton knit) and jersey, fabrics that move with the body. This was all music to my ears, since I tend to have a love affair with food and dieting, it is always a relief when your outfit has a little “give.”
I also liked that the styles were pretty current, some had enough detail to be trendy but there were others that would be timeless enough to wear again and again. “It’s a very feminine label,” admits Irasga. “I like to think of it as a mix of Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly. It’s a very ‘ladies-who-lunch’ style, reminiscent of the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard.” After poring through Tinsley’s 2011 catalog, I could easily imagine Blair Waldorf or Lily Bass-esque characters sipping tea or cocktails in any of the outfits and thanking the dress deities that their prices weren’t of Fifth Avenue proportions!
What of that “same-dress-same-party” dilemma? Irasga assured me that pieces per style are limited to minimize this from happening. “We also tweak our styles to suit customers’ needs. We can add sleeves to those that are sleeveless. Change the cut, the neckline, the dress length. We can turn a certain dress style into a blouse and vice versa,” she adds. I took advantage of this, ordering a dress but changing up the color combinations since I was told two other customers had already ordered something similar. I so loved the freedom being offered that I invited my mom to join me and she ended up with a dress that was to be converted into a top with the sleeves made more flattering for her body type. It was reminiscent of my high school days when a kustorera could come to your house and make something special for you only this time, the design brains behind the brand actually reads Vogue. Think about it, you are now able to stock up on pretty, feminine finery that fits just right — another thing to remove from your “best-stressed” list.
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SOUL TRAIN By Katrina A. Holigores (The Philippine Star) Updated September 16, 2011