Southern Sartorial Elegance

by Anita in the South

I am Southern, born and bred. Growing up, my grandmothers made many of my outfits and by age ten, I was sewing in 4-H. I know the hours of work that go into the touches, the details, that make an ensemble not only look perfect but FEEL perfect. I have spent many an evening as a teen, taking out stitching that wasn’t just so and pinning for top stiching, lapping seams, laying a pattern so that the designs in the fabric would flow, and basting for hours.

My mother had a seamstress, Miss Barton, that made many of her outfits, bound button holes, detailing, even her own labels, and I would ride with her for her fittings. (Any of you recall Leiter fabrics??) My mother would never have been caught wearing the same dress as someone else. Growing up Southern in the late 50’s and 60’s, the fashion rules that had been laid down for generations still held and will be with me always. We NEVER wore white after Labor Day or straw before Easter. Ladies did not wear jeans. I was 21 before I even tried on a pair! (Apologies to those of you who look great in jeans…most of us DO NOT.) Fashion was an experience to be enjoyed.

I was shopping Ivey Abitz before Cynthia started her own designs, so I was one of the first in line. Like my mother, I don’t want to meet myself coming and going in mass produced clothing.

Most of my wardrobe is now Ivey Abitz. I spend hours and multiple emails with Cynthia planning and seeking her advice on what ensembles to add (she keeps up so well with what you already have!). She is endlessly patient and helps me make the perfect choices for each season. She knows my likes and dislikes and her attention to her patrons is reflected in her incredibly comfortable designs. I never feel that my clothes are wearing me. (Think serious fashion mistakes you made in college.)

Somewhere along the way, feminine became the F word. The rags that pass for fashion make me dread long airline flights or trips to the market. I wear my IA ensembles everywhere, traveling costumes, at home, parties, and I look feminine and feel feminine. Cynthia has embraced a feeling of a more refined and dignified Time in her collections. I have found a sartorial home at IA and I never have to leave my home to browse and plan. I love opening the packages–a presentation in themselves.

Thank you, Cynthia.

-Anita in the South

P.S. Invest in the fabric swatches. There is no substitute for holding the fabric and looking at it in natural light and thinking carefully about your selections.