A Queen of All She Surveys in Ivey Abitz

Just last summer I was sitting all alone at the end of a pier, waiting for a boat to arrive. It was 9:30 in the morning. I was having a moment of quiet (in a Camilla Shirt, natural hemstitch striped cotton, and Baedeker Skirt in black premium irish linen) and I was appreciating the solitude and beauty of the landscape.  

Then I heard, “A queen of all she surveys.” Then this man waxed on about me being a queen sitting there overlooking my domain or something. I laughed and his wife and friends joined him, and on he went about their travels, language, love of fine food and cooking. By the time they boarded the boat, they had taught me how to make wine vinegar. Now, I wouldn’t want to read too much into my shirt and skirt, but I think if I had been sitting there in a sweatshirt, jeans, and loafers, the conversation would not have started in the same way. I, of course, didn’t feel like a queen, but I did have that relaxed sort of sophisticated feeling that I have come to like while wearing Ivey Abitz, and that feels quite age appropriate for me.  

At the same time, I do not feel conspicuous in Ivey Abitz clothing. I lose the self consciousness that comes with wearing something that isn’t quite right or is uncomfortable. I feel very comfortable in Ivey Abitz designs.

More Everyday Experiences in the Camilla Shirt

I have now worn the Camilla Shirt on many, many occasions. I wore it to the local Opera House for an evening fundraiser. I wore it to a huge brunch for 80 people. I wore it to a large cocktail party of 50 people. I’ve worn it to town, to church, and to dinner. I have catalogued many different comments and responses. I can usually count on the shirt getting noticed, so retiring, wallflower, introvert types should be forewarned. Although I have some social anxiety, I am an extrovert, so I like it. 

I wore the Camilla Shirt to a fundraiser at the Opera House. A friend’s sister exclaimed over and over how “gorgeous” the shirt was. I thanked her over and over and, as usual, shared with her the story of Ivey Abitz, the design elements, the antique buttons, etc. Then she asked how much the shirt was. Her face froze. She exclaimed, “Then it’s even more gorgeous.”

Camilla Shirt – The Everywoman Shirt

The Camilla Shirt is a wonder. Every woman should have one. It’s an Everywoman Shirt. As I have said before, slipping it over my head creates a change. On the outside, I look slimmer because of the long lines of the front of the shirt. My neck visually lengthens because of the tall collar. I don’t know if I am like other women, but a longer neck seems to improve my entire appearance. Next, the ties. When I tie the ties gently in back, it gives me a slightly curved shape. If I am feeling too curvy for my own good, I loosen the ties, let the material fall loosely, and I feel more comfortable. The other thing I notice is that I like the side view of myself in the Camilla. I usually do not like this view of myself at all. My posture is rounding and I always look a little fat or…just unappealing. But in this lovely shirt, it is different. I look nice! The lines are beautiful. The material poufs out a bit and then gently tucks in under the ties at the waist which gives some interest and shape to side view. At first I thought it was an optical illusion but now I know it is intentional, smart design for women.

Everyday Chores in Ivey Abitz

(you’ll notice Maeve mentions a lawn sprinkler – this was written in September. She is not watering her Minnesota lawn in February!)

Today I put on my favorite, a white hemstitch jacquard linen Eleanor Shirt. I paired it with a Baedeker Skirt in denim linen (from autumn 1). Then I put on a Camilla Vest and voila. It transformed the ensemble. I tied the vest in the back which pulled the waist in a bit. It gave a little more shape to the outfit and it looked a little more slimming. What I liked was the way Eleanor Shirt fell below the vest so there was a soft line of white that flowed with the line of the vest. The lines of the grey vest gave color contrast and shape to the top half of me. 

The Baedeker Trousers are another story. They fall to just the right lenth for me…..above the ankles. I love the tabs that cross over the 10 inch slits on the sides…just a little open. Best of all, of course, is the low rise in the trouser leg (waist sits at the natural waistline). It is a skirt and trouser in one. It falls like a skirt, feels like a skirt, but has the wearability of a trouser. I am finding them very versatile. It’s like having 2 items of clothing for the price of 1. I am currently sitting in a coffee shop at a round table typing this and I can sit any way I like because of the trouser feature. 

Before I left home, I stepped outside to turn on the sprinkler and met my neighbor, who has lovely taste in clothing. She raved about what I was wearing. Over and over, actually. Now this is a casual ensemble I’m wearing today, but it just has added interest beause even though each piece is designed separately, they work together so well. Then she said, “I’m going to have to order some things.”

I Love the Baedeker and the Baedeker Loves Me

A friend of mine is a no-nonsense tower of strength. She is a former police officer and now the director of a university criminal justice department specializing in human trafficking. We were talking about teaching our grandchildren lessons. I asked her what she teaches her granddaughters. I readied myself for a learning experience. She said, “I’ve taught them that a woman just can’t have too many shoes.”  

Well, it was a learning experience. It validated something that I believe to be true…a woman just can’t have too many Baedeker Shirts!  

This shirt has flattering lines. The collar is rather high at the back of the neck which gives the illusion of a longer, more graceful neck. The collar then rests lightly across the shoulders and comes to a point. The neckline drops to an attractive, shallow V in the front. I personally like the V in the front that does not dip too low.  

The back of the Baedeker Shirt is as beautiful as the front. I believe the least we can do for people behind us in grocery lines or in places of worship, is have something interesting or beautiful to look at. The Baedeker features a tall collar that drops to a point in the back. Along the waistline are little shiny buttons about 4 inches apart with a tab in the center. Each woman can button the tab to her preference. She can button it so that the shirt pulls in at the waist or she can button it so that the shirt falls loosely. Either way, the fabric in the back of the shirt poufs out gracefully above and below the tab. Beautiful. Cynthia Ivey Abitz designs clothing that it is flattering from every angle. 

The sleeves are designed with versatility in mind. They fall to graceful point just at the wrist. No worry about sleeves that are too short or too long. For added interest, one sleeve has a slit with a tab across it with points on each end of the tab. As you can see, the point as a design element is reapeated throughout the garment.  

I have often referred to the versatility of the Ivey Abitz designs. The following is an example of the widely (and wildly) disparate activities the Baedeker Shirt will accommodate.  

I wore a black and white cotton voile Baedeker Shirt, with antique silk woven buttons, circa early 1900’s from Paris recently to a funeral with black flared trousers. The Baedeker held its own as I paired it with a heavy, sterling silver, roped necklace with a monogrammed pendant that my grandmother made. I have had difficulty in the past finding something to wear with this beautiful piece of jewelry. The design and fabric of the shirt did not complete with this statement jewelry but provided just the right understated but beautiful background. 

Now, contrast that with wearing that same Baedeker Shirt with my jeans when my 7-year old grandson invited me to his school for lunch. This shirt was wonderful with my jeans. It took away that dungarees look.  Don’t ask me why but I felt a little French. I was oh, so comfortable but I retained a bit of élan while eating my corndog. Now, that’s versatility!  

That lovely garment retained its dignity even as it reached from the solemn formality of a funeral service to the boisterous cacophony of a kids’ cafeteria!  

What remained constant, however, was the way I feel when I wear Ivey Abitz designs. Wearable art helps me express parts of myself I like without having to say a word. 

Cynthia Ivey Abitz’s designs are original, imaginative, gracious, sophisticated yet firmly planted in comfort and practicality. Her wearable art always has that certain…..well, that signature penache..  

Just the qualities I want to nurture and express.

Finding Healing in Ivey Abitz Garments

Caution for sensitive readers: this entry mentions losing a loved one. 

So, I have been wearing Ivey Abitz designs for awhile now, and I have paid attention to more than the external factors of comfort, flow, fit, fabric, etc. I have noticed something internal; that is, how I feel inside when I wear a design, when I walk in it, when I relate to the world in it. I’ve given thought to something about identity and wearable art. I’ve given thought to healing and wearable art. 

I’ve learned that we gather different identities through our lives. These identities are heavily influenced by people around us, the culture we live in, and the circumstances of our lives. We sometimes get stuck in an identity when it no longer fits. The bad news is, identity is fluid. The good news is, identity is fluid. 

So, what does identity have to do with wearable art? What does wearable art have to do with healing? What is my own experience with all of this? 

Two experiences come to mind. 

My son died by his own hand at age 23. After a tumultuous adolescence, he had appeared to “settle down” and move forward. He was doing well in college, had an apartment, and our relationship was magnificently healed. The shock of his death changed all these perceptions of well being. 

As fluidity would have it, my identity also abruptly changed right after his death. I have since learned that after a significant loss or change, we have to rebuild our sense of identity. “Who am I now?”  Well, I figured that out pretty quickly. At that time, I was a bad mother and a failure.  

That sense of myself manifested in many ways. Mostly, I tried to overcompensate to prove to people I wasn’t a bad person. Among other things, I stopped wearing clothing that was expensive, beautiful, or attracted attention to myself. Instead of honoring my grief and expressing it with dignity through “mourning attire” as people have done throughout the ages, I instead turned into an invisible frump. If I had known Cynthia Ivey Abitz at that time, I know she would have listened to me, understood me, and helped me discover and express both the fragility and strength in my grief.  

The healing in all of this is the way in which I could have reframed that identity crisis; possibly from fracture to one of transformation. I know she would have worked with me to select designs, materials, fit, and embellishments so that what I wore on the outside reflected what I felt on the inside….in a loving way rather than the punishing way that I had been choosing.  

There are many healing practices. I believe that the Ivey Abitz processes of listening, understanding, validating, and finally creating wearable art for personal expression is truly one of the healing arts.

Ivey Abitz Clothing as a Healer

I have recently experienced a kind of healing through the personal expression of wearable art.  

I am an older woman now. As fluidity would have it, my sense of self has been changing. I am once again rebuilding my identity with the circumstances of my life. I have moved to an area of the country that is breathtakingly gorgeous but rather remote. Over the past several years, I noticed that I had lost some of my dash. I had begun wearing more utilitarian clothing….pants, tops, skirts, more tops. What I’d been wearing has affected how I have been feeling and how I have been feeling has affected what I have been wearing. Follow that circle long enough, and sense of self—identity—becomes affected.  

I’ve tried to find the right words for how I have felt….and I can’t quite find them, but I’ll try. It’s not bad….but as I can see now, I have just been limited…not my full or best self. I have felt strong, healthy, sometimes invisible, functional, bland, solid, competent, “sporty.”  

Again, not bad, but not complete. 

Then, I started wearing Ivey Abitz designs last summer. Since wearing them, I have reclaimed parts of me that had been fading away. When I slip into a piece of unique, comfortable, sophisticated wearable art, my experience of myself changes. I feel interesting again (and I am!), vital (I am), attractive (I can be), with a bit of penache (and I love that!). Something else happens as well. I feel better about presenting myself. Wearing clothing that is art itself tends to open me rather than the feeling that I often have of hiding or shutting down. I simply feel more self assured because I know it brings out the best elements in me. Maybe a little psychological osmosis occurs. Or, in a word, healing. Maybe a little healing occurs.