I’m not the only guy who never sees the inside of a clothing store. Many men have their clothes purchased by persons with fashion sense. Fashion-pity, after all, was what first motivated my wife to go out with me.
She brings home ensembles that match and are marked the right size, but they don’t always fit. For example, I needed a new outfit for a very important business meeting. My wife picked out a pants-shirt-tie combination, which I didn’t try on until the morning of the meeting. The pants were so wide and long, I had to hoist them mid-chest. I pulled on an emergency sweater and kept one hand on the waistband during the meeting.
I later brought the pants to a Forest Park tailor for alterations. They shortened them to the point that the cuffs crested at flood stage.
So, when I received khakis that were too long I tried a different Forest Park tailor. Her name is Olya Burak and she operates a shop on Desplaines just south of Madison.
Olya is originally from Ukraine. She attended tailoring school there for two years, followed by a four-year internship. She came to the U.S. in 1989 at the age of 29. She tried bookkeeping but quickly went back to her first love, working as a tailor for a clothing store.
She spent seven years as a top tailor for Men’s Warehouse before moving on to Nordstrom’s. Olya enjoyed the work but there was no room for advancement. Then she saw an ad for a tailor shop for rent. It was in Forest Park, where Carmen Fazio had toiled for 50 years. Olya’s husband pushed her to open the shop and she did so on Oct. 30, 2006.
She quickly attracted loyal customers, including her landlord and Mayor Anthony Calderone. Besides men’s clothing, Olya alters bridal dresses, kid’s clothes and uniforms. She also does draperies and tablecloths, even swimsuits. The day I visited her, she had just sewn a button on the mayor’s tuxedo.
Olya may have had a great reputation for European-style tailoring but I still had to put her to the test with the khakis. Two days later, I returned to try them on. They seemed to fit much better, but what did I know? The true assessment would come from my wardrobe provider.
My wife was totally impressed with the new fit and had no off-the-cuff criticisms of my cuffs. The pants even received approval from a 20-something fashionista.
So, if you haven’t seen yourself in a dressing room mirror the last 20 years, or your dimensions have changed, Olya will make the clothes fit. As they say about her in Ukraine, Olya Burak was born with a needle in hand.