Midtown History: Elaine Goldman
Written by Geri Spieler

The pants were two sizes too small in the waist although they otherwise fit and the jacket fit just right. She would have thought the outfit was a lost cause. It was an expensive designer pantsuit not returnable.

To Elaine Goldman the problem was a "no brainer." She took one look at the pants, turned them inside out with practiced ease and said, "No problem. I'll just take a little fabric from inside the pockets and move it to the waist, then replace the pocket material inside. It won't show anyway." And it didn't. No one would ever know the pants had been altered - or ever touched. That is the magic of Elaine's Perfect Fit. The pants fit perfectly.

For this French Fashion Academy graduate who started as stylist to a New York fashion photographer, fixing the pants was not a challenge. She is a master in the art of fabrics: design, quality fabrication, and selecting the best fabric for a garment.

From her home in New York, to a farm in Arkansas where Elaine and her late husband Bill Goldman grew blueberries, raised livestock and lived off their farm, to Midtown Palo Alto where she began her dressmaking and alterations business in 1981, Elaine has been an institution to many of Silicon Valley's most famous Bay Area women and men, including making a maternity dress for Princess Di and a wedding dress for many Silicon Valley moguls.

Being the stylist for the photographer and shopping for everything for the photography shot is what lead Elaine into her profession in the first place. She could never find what she wanted marching up and down the streets of Manhattan. She passed the Academy on Madison Avenue several times. Finally she decided she would begin to learn to make her own cloths even if she couldn't find everything.

She laughs when she talks about the differences between New York clients and California clients. Elaine says New Yorkers are always in a big hurry and they don't have time to "bond" with you. "New Yorkers read you," she said. If they like you well enough, then you do business, and they are gone." Some Californian's want references and are very suspicious. They take forever. Normally I don't usually have any problems. After all, I've been in business here for 25 years.

Elaine says her business has changed over the years in that more and more women have adopted the European habit of having a dressmaker (couturier) on hand to make the tiny adjustments on the clothes they buy or make that special blouse or add those buttons that add the touch to the garment that sets it off. People didn't do that years ago, but she sees it more now. "Fifteen years ago people thought of me more just for the special occasion or wedding dress. Now they come to me for all kinds of odds and ends and to fix clothes they have bought off the rack."

Many of Elaine's clients have been with her for 25 years and are her long time friends. They have been with her through raising her children and when her husband, Bill, died two years ago. Elaine and Bill raised their four daughters in Palo Alto and have been involved in Midtown Palo Alto community for over 20 years.

Elaine is a Midtown institution on Middlefield Road for 25 years. Her face is familiar at all the Midtown establishments, as Elaine believes in shopping locally. She also supports one of the garden plots behind the Palo Alto Café and donates fruits and vegetables that she doesn't cook up herself. Elaine's services range from custom clothing where she will create and design any garment in any fabric from a photo or sketch or from a clients specifications. She does alterations for men and women. She also works on bridal gowns, beaded gowns costumes, resizing and restyling.

Elaine is a personal shopper, and provides trunk shows representing French Rags, semi-custom designer knits made from Belgian yarn. She is a consultant for Doncaster, (sizes 2-18) and elyna sizes (12-24). She is also a consultant for Jeannette Miner who brings her collections from Paris twice a year. If this were not enough, Elaine will also help her clients with wardrobe and closet organizing, as well as facilitate culling and alternative wardrobe options. Elaine works out of her home studio, so she is available to the time stressed working professional. She can be reached at 650/493-1433 or www.elainesofpaloalto.com

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