When I was four years old, my mother outfitted me in a pink leotard for my first day of ballet class — everyone else was uniformed in black, and I was mortified. I quit after three lessons. Now, as adults, we'd do anything to stand out. Ironic, isn't it? And the easiest, simplest and quickest way to project your uniqueness, your one-of-a-kind personality, your special snowflake self is through, obviously, one of the major forms of expression: customized fashion.
We get the appeal, because what are the odds that someone else is also going to have a pair of high-waist jeans cropped to your height specifications, that boasts patches you chose ironed on each pocket, with squiggles in baby pink thread decorated along each seam and your name embroidered in chainstitch script on the waistband? Yeah, exactly.
It's this desire for these specially made pieces that have pushed brands to deliver full online design-it-yourself services, and with it, the perfect, smug "Oh, this? It's custom!" response for whenever someone inquires about it. On that note, we present a complete fashion customization guide, from shades to shoes. Your dream personalized closet awaits.
For how much? Base price varies by denim style (ranges between $215 and $270), with an additional $45 for patches, $25 for embroidery and $15 for tassels.
Neat features: The three custom-cut options (that are free, BTW), which include a step hem, a straight hem or a cut waistband.
Where does the magic happen? M.i.h Jeans
What you can get customized: Everything in the Denim Bar (which includes high-rise skinnies, wide-leg jeans, overalls, denim tops, chambray shirts and jean jackets) and in the Leather Monogram Shop (think totes, backpacks, pouches, sandals, iPhone cases and passport holders).
For how much? For denim, it costs $10 to monogram each piece (it's free for Madewell Insiders), where you can embroider up to nine letters in chain-stitch style and choose from 18 color options. For leather goods, stamp up to three letters for $10.
Neat features: 18 thread color options!
For how much? $18 for each embroidery
Neat features: You can choose up to 19 locations (nineteen!) to embroider text or symbols, like the right corner of the back left pocket. Plus, the symbols are really cute (doodle-like smileys, hearts, lightning bolts, etc).
Where does the magic happen? Revolve
What you can get customized: All the jeans that Industry Standard has to offer.
For how much? It's an additional $15.
Neat features: We love the modern sans serif font (perfect if you're tired of the scripted style), if you choose to embroider letters or phrases (there's a 20-character limit). As for symbols, there are only two, but they both benefit a great cause — choose the heart, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood; the safety pin, the ACLU.
Where does the magic happen? Industry Standard
What you can get customized: Any Levi's product, both old and new.
For how much? $20 to $35 for hemming (basic, chainstitch or original hems), $40+ for tailoring (leg tapers, jacket slimming or shortening), $10+ for repairs (patching, darning, sashiko) and $35+ for embroidery (including script and patchwork).
Where does the magic happen? At a Levi's Tailor Shop in San Francisco, New York City or Brooklyn.
Son of a Tailor
What you can get customized: Your favorite basic: the T-shirt. This brand has built its business on delivering the perfect tee that's made and fitted for you, and technically, it's labeled as a menswear brand, but hey, a tee is a tee is a tee.
For how much? $45 to $60 for the tee (price depends on quantity purchased: It's $60 for one; $52 each for two to four; and $45 each for five, because according to the site: "Higher quantity orders help us to optimize our pattern construction plus lower our shipping costs").
Neat features: After picking your tee's fabric, color, neckline, sleeve style, pocket and monochrome initial embroidery, the coolest part is creating a custom size through three methods: a quick four-question survey, by measuring your body or measuring a tee you already own.
Where does the magic happen? Son of a Tailor
For how much? An additional $50.
Neat features: You get to choose from 15 thread colors and embroider any text you want (some of Dresshirt’s helpful suggestions: nickname, motto, date, lyric, etc) in the brand’s unmistakable extra-large script (the Kardashian-Jenners, Hadids, Allison Williams, and more are already fans). For additional embroidery placements and colors, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where does the magic happen? Dressshirt
Dresses and Eveningwear
Fame and Partners
What you can get customized: Everything — every piece is customizable. Pick a style as your base and choose from the list of customizable options (like altering the width of a strap, the plunge of a neckline, the length of a hem, the addition of a ruffle, etc.)
For how much? $9 to $10 for an added detail; $4 for the removal of a detail.
Neat features: The fact that it boasts a made-to-order business model means there's no excess stock (read: less waste), giving it a leg up in sustainability.
Where does the magic happen? Fame and Partners
What you can get customized: You can choose to customize four styles: the Concorde, the Pioneer, the Vanguard and the Voyager.
For how much? $205 to $225 depending on the sunglass style, with additional charges for unique materials (luxe seaglass or marbled finishes).
Neat features: The extensive range of 15 lens options, frame colors and special features in various textiles, colors, and accents.
Where does the magic happen? Westward Leaning
What you can get customized: Nearly all enamel pieces (where you can choose from up to 10 color options), along with the Mrs. and Ms. rings (where you can choose metal and stones).
For how much? $195 to $1,3575 for enamel pieces, which range from studs to bangles. $950 for Mrs. and Ms. rings.
Where does the magic happen? Alison Lou
For how much? Two leathers are complimentary — additional leathers are $29 each, while vegetable-tanned leather is an additional $8.
Neat features: The cool interactive (read: extremely user-friendly) interface that allows you to play and experiment with different textiles and colors as you build your bag.
Where does the magic happen? Mon Purse
Pop & Suki
For how much? It varies. For all customizable items, you're able to print text or emojis in either cursive or block font, which ranges from $15 (for smaller pieces, like the tags and card case) to $40 (the camera bags). And for some, you have the option to accessorize your bag with different straps, tassels and tags for an additional $20 to $35.
Neat features: It costs extra, but with the different straps, the camera bag (both the big and original) can be worn three ways — as a backpack, a shoulder bag and fanny pack — which is pretty neat.
Where does the magic happen? Pop & Suki
For how much? Base price ranges from $95 (shopper) to $265 (backpack and carryall), with an extra $75 for adding a pouch, $15 for snaps, $45 for a tassel and $15 for pins.
Neat features: After picking the base color or print, you can select the strap color, the option of adding another pouch, swapping out snaps and adding pins and tassels.
Where does the magic happen? goldno.8
For how much? An additional $10 for a gold foil stamp of letters or symbols (three characters max). For weekenders, it’s $10 for an embroidered monogram.
Where does the magic happen? Cuyana
What you can get customized: Both the Flavia and Jean clutches, a tray and coasters.
For how much? It’s $1,995 for Flavia ($2,095 to personalize both sides), $1,795 for the Jean ($1,815 for both sides), $795 for the tray and $295 for coasters.
Neat features: Getting to play with Edie Parker's signature pearlescent and confetti finishes in a panoply of colors.
Where does the magic happen? Edie Parker
What you can get customized: The nylon Burberry rucksack is the only bag to which you can add your initials online. Others monogrammable pieces include: trench coats, pouches, wallets, cashmere scarves and blanket ponchos.
For how much? $150 to monogram the blanket poncho and trench coats, $75 for the rucksack and pouch, and it's free for the scarves and wallets.
Where does the magic happen? Burberry
What you can get customized: The newly-launched build-a-bag collection comprises only one style, but in two sizes: large and small. And there's the bespoke collection, which allows you to emboss a personal message in your handwriting on a number of leather goods.
For how much? The large "Build a Bag" starts at $1,250, the small at $1,150 (though the price goes up $1,000-plus if you choose python as your base). Additions, like extra or decorative handles, embellished straps, key fobs, key rings, and stickers, run between $175 and $695.
Neat features: Experimenting with Anya Hindmarch's playful bag add-ons (the summary at the bottom tracks every move), though unfortunately, it's not possible to see a complete rendering of your customized bag when it's finished.
Where does the magic happen? Anya Hindmarch
For how much? $75 to $110, depending on the style. For an additional $10, you can upload a custom image.
Neat features: The range of colors, materials and patterns. The best part is its new feature: Uploading a photo for a custom print.
Where does the magic happen? Vans
What you can get customized: So much Adidas greatness, like the Gazelle (Kate Moss's go-to), Stan Smith (um, everyone's go-to), Superstar, Spezial and so many more. Here are all the styles you can personalize.
For how much? It varies on style, but for sneakers, it starts at $105 and up, while pool slides start at $45.
Neat features: The fact that you can customize everything (the material, the top, stripes, back, and sole) and keep a special accent, like these iridescent stripes.
Where does the magic happen? Adidas
For how much? From $85 and up.
Neat features: In addition to customizing literally every single element of the shoe, you also have the option of embroidering your name on the pull tab. Another feature we love: the 360-degree view.
Where does the magic happen? Reebok
For how much? It depends on style, but it ranges from $150 to $190.
Neat features: In addition to embroidering anything you want on the back, the New Balance customizer involves a cool color wheel. Plus, the brand releases limited-edition prints, like camo or metallics, from time to time.
Where does the magic happen? New Balance
What you can get customized: A whopping total of 58 women's styles in NikeiD.
For how much? It ranges from $105 to $355.
Neat features: Um, basically everything about the user experience. There's a seemingly limitless spectrum of colors to choose from, the interface is intuitive, and it does an incredible (read: unparalleled) job at seamlessly rendering every selection.
Where does the magic happen? Nike
Shoes of Prey
What you can get customized: You can create from 20 shoe styles (which includes everything from double d'Orsay pumps to pointed loafers) from scratch or shop among existing creations and adjust as you see fit.
For how much? Starting base style prices range from $129 to $249, while add-ons (like bows, lace overlays, a wedge heel and piping) can cost between $10 and $75. See the full pricing menu here.
Neat features: The extent of customization is quite remarkable — like say, if you start with a pump, you can turn it into a sling-back or a double d'Orsay lace-up, add ankle straps, change the toe box shape that go beyond pointed or round (there's pointed cap, covered peep-toe and so many more), and pick your ideal heel type and height.
Where does the magic happen? Shoes of Prey
What you can get customized: The iconic ballerina, the mid-heel ballerina "Camille," the "Zizi" oxfords and the "Michael" loafer.
For how much? It starts at 320 euros (which is about $357).
Neat features: There are about 252 colors to choose from, each shoe is handcrafted, the option to add three charms and initials or the first name can be affixed on the inner sole.
Where does the magic happen? In stores only. The L'Atelier Repetto is available in New York City, France, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan. See exact locations here.
What you can get customized: You can embroider a monogram or symbol (or both) on totes, tops, hats, towels, glassware, you name it.
For how much? An additional $6.
Where does the magic happen? Lands' End
What you can get customized: Basically, every J. Crew basic: bags, coin purses, bag tags, belts, tees and tanks, jeans, sweaters, button-downs, pajamas, shorts and swimwear bottoms.
For how much? An additional $10 to monogram your initials.
Neat features: You can choose from 18 thread colors.
Where does the magic happen? J. Crew
Mark and Graham
What you can get customized: You can personalize or monogram pretty much everything at Mark and Graham, including totes, necklaces, apparel, drinkware, placemats, door mats, stationery — you get the idea.
For how much? An additional $9.50.
Neat features: Did we mention, nearly all Mark and Graham products are customizable?
Where does the magic happen? Mark and Graham
Homepage image: A blue denim jacket with printed graffiti at Paris Fashion Week Spring 2019. Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images