Finding the perfect above the knee dress has proven to be a bit of a challenge for me. I’m 5’8, which isn’t insanely tall, but I’ve got a little more leg than torso, so most casual day to day dresses can be a little too short on me… And although I have no issues with a scandalous dress, I’d also love something that I feel comfortable visiting my grandma in (not that she’d care, she’s can get behind any look, scandalous or not).

I often find myself after an endless, unsuccessful hunt wishing I could just whip up a well made, perfect fitting dress. So why don’t I? Well, I can’t sew… or draft patterns, or do anything needed to create a custom piece, but there are people out there who can! In steps Boneset.

Boneset is a ‘bespoke design collective based in Toronto’ aka, they’re the people that make your dreams come true, and in this case, my dreams specifically. I’ve known the owner, Stefanie, for the past few years (we had worked on the same street) and I had seen IRL some of the amazing pieces that she had created. I felt quite confident when I contacted Boneset that designing a dress together was going to be an amazing thing.

Stefanie was quick to message me back in regards to setting up a first meeting to talk more about my ideas. We set a day and time, and she told me that I didn’t have to have to come prepared with anything, and that the best part of the process is coming up with designs together.

So we grabbed a coffee together one morning and tried to decipher what it was I was looking for exactly. She came prepared with a series of questions that would help her get to know me and my style a little better, but also came very well researched and had a general idea of what I had been wearing lately. At the end of the meeting she told me for this project she was feeling very inspired by the aesthetic of Jeanne Damas, which gave me all the confidence in this custom piece, because that was exactly the route I was hoping to take with this dress.

A week later, Stefanie came by my apartment to show me sketches she had drawn up, and fabric swatches she thought would go well with them. As we had kind of decided at the last meeting that a wrap dress would likely meet my needs, I was so pleasantly surprised to see the sketches of the four very different wrap dresses. There was of course, the classic wrap style, but while the other three maintained a similar silhouette, they were very different looking. Within the first couple of minutes I was able to narrow it down to two dresses, and then finally decided on the more classic wrap shape as this was the style I was originally most drawn to. Stef went through each fabric swatch and explained the content, and how each fabric and its weight and stiffness would transform the dress. While she normally works with mostly natural fabrics, I was super happy that she took my washing fears into consideration and brought some options that I would be less likely to ruin. While I was ready to settle on a cherry red Tencel, she told me to sleep on it because I didn’t have to decide for another two weeks (when our next appointment would be).

She then took all my measurements and wrote them into a form she had on her computer. I think it was at this point that I realized how cool it was to have an item made just for you. This dress was going to be made for my proportions, and was likely going to be the best fitting thing I would ever put on my body!

 

Nearing the end of the appointment, Stef asked if I still wanted to move forward with making the dress, and of course, I did, but that’s why Boneset is so amazing. You can take your time, get to know the process, see what gets brought to the table, and if you decide you don’t want to move forward, that’s fine! No hard feelings. When you’re working with someone on this type of project it can feel like right from the very first meeting you’ve committed to it and have to keep going, but Stef doesn’t want it to feel like that at all. If you see the sketches and decide ‘hey, maybe this isn’t right for me at this time’ then it’s totally fine to let her know. She appreciates your honesty throughout the whole process, because at the end of the day, this custom piece is for you to wear, and if you’re unhappy with it, it kind of defeats the purpose!

Stef headed out and I spent my day dreaming of the dress we decided on, as well as my runner up. I was certain by the end of the day I would end up texting her and telling her we needed to make that one as well, but luckily I have friends that are able to talk me out of impulse purchases. So I’ve decided to wait on that one… for now.

The next appointment we scheduled for two weeks later. In the time between appointments, Stef whipped up a muslin version of the dress. When making custom pieces, this is a great, cheap way to test out your pattern, and not waste any of the (often times pricey) fabric the final piece is going to be made out of. 

Fast forward two weeks and Stef came back to my apartment, to do a fitting of the muslin dress. To say I was excited was an understatement. She carried in a custom Boneset garment bag which housed my dress, as well as a few other garments she was working on. 

I slipped on the dress and almost immediately Stef pulled out a sharpie and started writing all over it while simultaneously pulling and pinning. She explained along the way her thoughts as to what she wanted to change, where she wanted to tighten things up or let hems out. She asked for my opinion, if there was anything I wasn’t crazy about, or if anything felt uncomfortable. To be honest I probably would have been happy walking around in the muslin dress as is, so naturally, I had no objections.

After all the pinning was done, I changed back into my clothes and we sat down on the couch to review the fabrics again. I had a tough time deciding between a linen blend and the tencel, but ultimately I decided on the tencel because like I fear washing clothes, I also fear wrinkles (insert shoulder shrug emoji).

Two weeks later, Stef and I met up for our final fitting. Aside from getting to take my dream dress home that day, it was an extra special meeting because Boneset had just moved into the most beautiful studio I have ever seen. Even though it was so nice getting to have meetings in my apartment throughout this process, I definitely wouldn’t complain about having to spend more time in the Boneset studio.

 

Stef pulled out my dress and I slipped it on. She showed me a few different ways to tie it, and stood back to let me dance around in the mirror a little (I was so excited lol). If it hadn’t have been raining out I would have just worn it home, but instead I put my clothes back on and Stef returned my dream dress to its garment bag.

This entire process was such an amazing and beautiful experience. Not only was I so excited to have something custom made, but I was so happy to have it made by a creative, woman ran company from within my community. Supporting local has something I’ve always felt strongly about, and you can’t get much more local than having the designer over to your apartment for fittings.

I highly recommend experiencing this process for yourself even once, because it is unlike any other. You value what you’ve had created as more than just a piece of clothing because you appreciate the story and the thoughtfulness put into it.

Please feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions regarding my experience, or want to know more - I’m always happy to chat! Or reach out to Stef at info@bonesetstudio.com in regards to making your dream pieces!

Editorial Photos Pat O'Rourke

Shoes - Nike Cortez Reissue (Similar here)
Sunglasses - Gucci
Necklaces - Above Average and My Name Necklace
Earrings - Vintage (Similar here)