Cake,Coffee, and Clothes

Kate Burton, an alum, came to Millikin on Sept. 18 and spoke at the Cake and Coffee Series event at the Oberhelman Center for Leadership Performance. They spoke about their company, Uncommon Closet LLC, and invited questions from the audience.

The tailor shop, located in the Chicago neighborhood of Logan Square, caters to LGBT community and plus size individuals. “Our mission,” as stated in their flyer, “is to offer custom-made clothes or tailoring services to best fit each individual that walks into our studio. We want you to be comfortable and happy in what you want to wear!”

One particular example Burton said was their most common request was for the shoulders of clothing to be taken in to reduce the width. They also mentioned how popular that request was with transgender men and anyone assigned female at birth.

Burton mentioned how their company came from a place of giving back to the LGBT community. They stated how often times anyone who is LGBT, especially transgender people, can’t find a tailor to adjust their clothes. Traditional women’s and men’s clothing can either be too small or large respectively. Burton also mentioned how this is a problem for anyone plus size as well.

“[We] don’t wanna turn people any because it’s not possible,” Burton said.

One example they cited was a transgender choir student who needed a change of concert attire because he could no longer order a larger size. Burton fixed the issue, and the school the student was from covered the expenses.

Burton dived deeper as to what was their motivation in creating their company. Here at Millikin, they majored in costume design. They were on their way after graduation to pursue an MFA in costume technology at Ohio University, but dropped out due to poor mental health. Burton was open about suffering a mental breakdown in the middle of completing their thesis. Burton went on to work in a tailor shop, but mentioned how they felt couldn’t take time off for the sake of their mental health.

After 5 months of the experience, Burton said they felt equipped enough to be able to do “weird alterations” that other tailors did not often do, having been based in theatre alterations. Another inspiration was Lily, their transgender girlfriend who often had trouble finding feminine clothing that fit her tall stature.

Their company has since expanded to  have catered to over 750 clients and now is partnered with an LA based company, Sharpe Suiting. Burton said that they now felt comfortable taking days off when needed, and to come in later than their employees.

“[I] work best with people from theater,” they said.

They mentioned how working in a tailor shop was good for theater people who wanted “a break from theater” but still wanted a steady income. Most of their requests deal with tailoring, rather than custom clothing. Finding materials can be a change as well, but Burton said most of their supplies came from simple fabric stores such as Jo-Ann’s. Actual prices can vary, but the cost is always given at the time of charge never before, citing personal experience as to why they made this change from typical tailor shops. Burton also said that while the cost of being on Yelp is expensive, it has been instrumental in gaining clientele.

Burton also gave out a lot of advice about finding one’s career goals and dealing with personal struggles with mental illness.

“Therapy is delicious. That’s the cake everybody needs to eat,” they said.

Uncommon Closet LLC is located at 3720 West Fullerton Avenue, in Chicago, Illinois. The company website is