Discovering Ivey Abitz

Words, like clothing, can mean so much and so little at the same time. I have no desire to be fashionable but i like to know what’s in fashion. I would never describe myself as stylish but i have a certain style. The word eclectic comes to mind. i like that word.

I first found Ivey Abitz while doing a search online. I am also pretty sure it took about an hour on a Tuesday afternoon whilst at work. Some people have cigarette breaks – I go shopping. A lot. My point is that with all of the different designers I like to wear I was able to add another to my list. I like that Ivey Abitz designs fit in with everything I have without looking like anything I have.

I also like that my long suffering husband can’t figure out what is new and what isn’t. Trust me, it takes years of steady practice to keep a straight face and assure my dearest that yes indeed he has seen the dress before. In fact, I wore it to that dinner. You remember, don’t you? I don’t know why I bother to look nice if you don’t pay attention. Never mind. Where are the twins? It’s too quiet…Distraction is a key element in my marriage.

Versatility Reigns with Ivey Abitz Ties and Sashes

Did you ever have one of those days where you truly think you’ve gained 10 pounds overnight? 

I seem to be having more of “those days.”   Frequently.

I am not sure what the problem is because my driver’s license says I weigh 115#….ahem….

So, having nothing to wear because I happened to stuff my face full of chocolate on Easter Sunday and blossomed into a Rubenesque woman overnight, I quickly came to the conclusion that I didn’t need to diet….I just needed more Wearable Art!

This is one of the (many!) things I love about my new clothing from Ivey Abitz.  I cannot tell you how many things I had to throw away (from my pre-Ivey Abitz wardrobe) because they just don’t fit me any more.  And having a myriad of different sizes to accommodate a fluctuating waistline seems silly to me — why have clothing you can’t wear in your closet taking up valuable space?

With Ivey Abitz, tossing aside clothing because it doesn’t fit is a thing of the past.

Feeling a little full after Thanksgiving Dinner?  Just quietly excuse yourself from the room, adjust the antique glass buttons on the back of your beautiful Baedeker Shirt, and you will be back in time for a second slice of homemade pumpkin pie! 

Chasing toddlers on a daily basis and want to be comfortable?  No problem.  Just don a beautiful Baedeker Dress (sans sash) and you can roll around on the floor with the lil’ hobgoblins all day long.  (BONUS FEATURE: the decorative buttons on the dress keep the kids busy for an extra 20-30 minutes as they try and figure out how to unbutton them…hehehe).  And, when hubby arrives home unexpectedly with a fist-full of freshly picked irises (your favorite!) you can quickly snatch that sash off of the floor, tie it around your waist, and look as though you dressed up nice… just for him!   

(Something tells me that if my husband sees me looking this nice all the time, he may bring me flowers every single day!)

My Precious Baedeker Shirt

“I love the Baedeker, and The Baedeker loves me”, Maeve in Minnesota.

How I love this line from Maeve’s blog entry.  And how I also love The Baedeker!  

In fact, I loved my first Baedeker dress so much, I decided to try my luck with the Baedeker shirt — this time in a Deep Ocean blue (I sure do miss Maine…) silk spun taffeta.

When Cynthia Ivey Abitz first suggested to me I try an item in the silk spun taffeta, it brought a large smile to my face.  I think the last time I had worn taffeta was as a little girl: a poofy skirted dress that always impelled me to twirl around and around pretending I was a ballerina. 

(Of course, I am sure that taffeta was polyester…need I say more?)

Not ready to try this “grown up” version of taffeta (as I had put my dancing days behind me), I quickly abandoned the idea of using it as a fabric in my new Wearable Art collection.   But then my eyes beheld a beautiful sight one day and I realized that I just HAD to have something in that incredible fabric!  (that “beautiful sight” being, of course, page 20 of the Ivey Abitz Winter 07 Look Book).   And, after a few clicks of the keyboard and a couple weeks of waiting… that beautiful Baedeker was all mine! 

This time there was no delay…no time to admire the elegant box and simple bow…just a flurry of paper as I tore into that tissue looking for my Baedeker.  And there she was.  Looking so dainty (and tiny!) with her vintage black glass buttons from Prague expertly sewn on the shimmering fabric…breathtaking!

Trying her on, I found that she fit perfectly…as if made just for me. 

As for the taffeta…let’s just say the poofy-skirted dress couldn’t hold a candle to my Baedeker.  The way the light plays on that fabric: it’s blue…it’s black…no blue…!   And it is so smooth and silky.    

And machine washable. 

Maeve did a wonderful job describing the Baedeker in her blog entry.  I agree with her whole-heartedly.  But when I look at myself in the mirror wearing my new Baedeker, I realize that Maeve missed something.  I will admit that I may be just a little blinded by the beauty of that taffeta, but I am convinced that when I am wearing my new Baedeker I have the poise of a regal ballerina.  (Minus the twirling and the pointe shoes…)

No wonder the other items in my closet are a bit jealous of my new Baedeker.

My Introduction to the Baedeker Dress

The first piece of wearable art I purchased was the Baedeker dress in a beautiful Deep Ocean blue hemstitch jacquard linen. I just love the color — it brings back fond memories of walking on the beach when I lived on the coast of Maine — and the fabric has an incredible drape with an oh-so-subtle sheen. Beautiful. 

Being the practical woman that I am, I was a bit hesitant at purchasing something that could only be worn by itself and couldn’t really be combined with other items (as a blouse or Sophia Frock could). But something about the design really clicked with me…so, after doing some creative things with the budget (and nudging into the next month’s “allowance”)  I took the plunge and bought it. 

Then, I immediately panicked! 

I had never purchased a dress that cost that much money before. But, after doing some quick calculations, I realized that all of my “great deals” that I had purchased over the past two years totaled up to an amount that could have purchased several Baedeker dresses…ouch! I also realized that instead of purchasing 4 cheap generic outfits (that were made of inferior fabrics and poorly sewn) I could have purchased one beautiful outfit of wearable art that I would treasure for YEARS. 

The waiting was the hardest part. I hate waiting. 

But it was worth it.

The Baedeker arrived on Christmas Eve in an elegant white box with a simple black bow. A perfect gift to start the New Year with a “new” me!

Afraid to wear the dress, it hung in my closet for about a month! But every so often I would pull it out and try it on — just to make sure it was real. Playing around with it, I figured out about 7 different ways to wear the dress – and each way gave the dress an entirely new look. (Not a bad investment piece if you ask me!)

And, when I finally did manage to get the courage to wear the dress for “real”… I got my first compliment within a minute of getting out of my car in a parking lot. (By my calculations, it took about 3 seconds for that person to surmise what a confident, elegant, silly, attractive, and intelligent woman I was, about 20 seconds to get up the nerve to tell me so, and another 30 seconds for them to catch up to me in the parking lot — I walk fast) Not bad for a first showing!

Practical and Beautiful

When I was a youngster, I wore a uniform to school. A very simple uniform consisting of a skirt/pant and a vest. It sounds odd, but I really enjoyed the uniform. I never had to worry about what to wear to school, I never had to do much laundry, and I liked my “minimalistic” closet. Unfortunately, the uniform was made of polyester. Nasty, chemical-reaction derived, polyester.

To be fair, polyester was indeed “practical”: It never wrinkled, it never shrunk, it was durable, no mildew… But wearing it made me feel as though I were encased in plastic. And it was ugly. 

(Why is it that “practical” is often synonymous with “ugly”?)

After years of sweating in my practical, ugly, polyester uniform, I came to the conclusion that there had to be a something better.  

As an adult, I long for a sophisticated wardrobe where all of the articles “play well” together. And while I get giddy at the thought of large walk-in closets filled to the brim with beautiful clothing, that “minimalistic” closet from my childhood still appeals to me. (As does the notion of doing less laundry…)

Fortunately, Ivey Abitz has come to my wardrobe rescue. I can choose designs in the fabrics and colors that work well for me so I can mix-and-match to my heart’s content. And to make it even more perfect, all of the fabrics are natural.

Natural fibers not only let your skin breathe, but they also have some interesting properties. For example, linen is not only antibacterial but anti-static as well. Wool absorbs moisture, does not retain odors, and is extremely difficult to catch on fire (a good choice for someone who is klutzy in the kitchen…) Silk is not only strong but it also keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer — a fabric for all seasons!

Did I mention I have twins? Boys? Just turned two?  

They can be a handful at times — and sometimes that handful includes sticky fingers. I am sure it is just one of those great “Mysteries of Life”, but I can never figure out exactly WHAT makes their hands so sticky. (Truth be told, it is probably a good thing that I don’t know.) They seem to have this uncanny knack of being their messiest whenever I am dressed in something nice — grubby little hands pawing at my skirts, runny little noses nestled in my sweaters during Toddler Hugs…you get the idea.

This is why I was so happy to find that most of the beautiful Ivey Abitz designs could be washed in the washing machine AND tumble dried.  

Beautiful silks and linens. Getting softer with time. “Year round” fabrics. Now THAT’S practical. (It makes me want to hug my toddlers even more.)

The First 3 Seconds

It is a well known fact that you will be judged within the first three seconds of meeting someone.  Clothing, posture, grooming, mannerisms…all will make an impact before you even get the chance to say “hello”.   

Being a bit of a chatterbox (and a fast talker), I always hoped my “hello” reached others about 1.3 seconds prior to any visual impact and judgements.  I like to think that I have been successful in my attempts.  But I need to face the reality that I am getting older and my vocal agility is slowing down — not to mention the fact that I am always distracted by my 2 year old twin boys!   

So what is a weary mother of  toddlers to do but to fall back on the old standard of looking presentable.  At all times. Just in case. 

Presentable.  This word is so subjective.  For example, it has become the norm in society to look ‘presentable’ while wearing fuzzy blue slippers, haggard pajama bottoms, and a grubby sweatshirt.  I will admit that while this ensemble would be quite comfortable, I just don’t think it would give an accurate impression of my persona.   

If I want to accurately portray who I am to others, then I must begin by asking myself the question: “Who am I?”   

A wife, a mother of rambunctious toddlers, a physician… these answers are easy enough.  But I also enjoy classical music, fine dining, nature, laughter, reading, antiques, traveling… and so many other things.   If I could tell others about myself, what would I want them to know?  Could I say it in three seconds?  Would it involve fuzzy blue slippers?  

Taking a good look at myself in the mirror, I realized that the person I saw staring back at me was a complete stranger. Instead of seeing the confident, elegant, silly, attractive, and intelligent woman that I know I am, I saw a frumpy, ill-kempt woman with a smear of grape jelly on her left sleeve and who was in serious need of a haircut.  And that was only after the first second. 

When did a woman who was once considered “fashionable” by all of her friends/relatives change into this unrecognizable, dowdy creature?  Did it happen overnight or did it evolve over the past 2 years?  I understand that the catalyst was a serious life-style change — but I was amazed to see I had succumbed this far.    

I will admit that chasing kids around in stiletto-heeled shoes and a pencil skirt is not only impracticable, but downright dangerous.  But who says that motherhood must be unglamorous?  Why must one equate “comfort” with sweatpants, easy-to-care-for synthetic separates, and “sensible” shoes?  Why must we all don generic clothing that stifles any sense of personality and creativity?  Why had I spent so much money on “bargains” that made me look (and feel) so bad? 

If I could create a perfect wardrobe, it would have to have the following conditions:

  • beautiful
  • coordinating
  • comfortable
  • easy to care for
  • natural fibers
  • fun/whimsical
  • practical
  • versatile
  • modest
  • elegant, simple lines
  • well constructed
  • flattering to my body shape
  • colors that I like
  • made in the USA

(Shamefully, the majority of the clothing in my closet did not meet this criteria.)  

Armed with this list, I began to scour the internet.  I knew that what I was looking for existed — it had to!  (I could not be the only confident, elegant, silly, attractive, and intelligent woman in the world.)   And, after months of searching, I finally found what I had been looking for:

IveyAbitz

Elegant. Fun. Beautiful. Who could ask for more?

Hollywood Treatment

how many people can say that they have personal advice from the actual designer of their clothing!? i love the entire concept of what Ivey Abitz, the company, does, and they do it so very well. doesn’t it just make you feel so very special knowing that you can get this kind of assistance and advice? i mean….we are talking hollywood treatment here! 

Ivey Abitz devotees have this in common: we are lucky to have found Ivey Abitz, and we don’t mind spending money for quality clothing. but the consideration and individual treatment and advice that we get puts us all in the same category with people in the limelight, people who get followed around by cameras – people who walk down red carpets (and some Ivey Abitz clients are actually are in the limelight!) i get all that special treatment, except that i get the benefit of not being followed around by cameras or having my personal life splashed all over the covers of cheap tabloids. to me, that would be such an invasion in addition to a giant pain. to me, this is the only welcome difference.  

i don’t like to use the word bargain because it sounds cheap and i don’t like that word – but think about it. i think we get more than what we pay for with Ivey Abitz, so a bargain it is in this respect. it is a bargain and then some! i will say it again: think about it. 

in closing, i hope to continue participating in this blog. i have no doubt said it before, but i think Ivey Abitz patrons are an exclusive group of style-conscious people. i will follow this fabulous company with avid interest and look forward to the future of Ivey Abitz and to wearing their designs for a long, long time. i have enjoyed writing about how Ivey Abitz designs and how the designer, Cynthia, has influenced my life. i look forward to reading more from some of you. what i have read so far i have enjoyed very much. 

in an earlier entry, i wrote something like “people who wear Ivey Abitz designs are intelligent, unique women and men proud of their individuality.” i will end near the beginning and say that as time goes on, i find this to be as true as it ever was. 

joie de vivre! 

-eleni

Self Expression with Mother Superior and Ivey Abitz

i have always had an unusual (sometimes downright weird) unique style and taste. 

eclectic. that’s a good word. 

since i was a kid, i remember my clothes were important to me in defining who i was. i even went to catholic school and quit because of the uniforms they made us wear every day.  

once i made a deal with the mother superior that i would clean up the staff kitchen and another room (the art room, i think) in exchange for her letting me wear my regular clothes. it was worth it just for one day out of that horrible uniform. i simply couldn’t handle it, even though my very best friends went to school there. i missed a lot of fun with them after leaving this school, but it was that important to me. not only for my self expression, but my identity. or at least how i saw myself. or maybe how i thought i wanted the world to see me. 

i am that way to this day. everyone i know comments on the way i put my clothes together. now cynthia helps me do that through her personal design consultations, always making sure that what we choose together is still me. i love that about the process of working one-on-one with the designer herself. i really do. it is inspiring as well. i am celebrating my individual self, and Ivey Abitz helps me celebrate.

Staying Cool in the Florida Heat – in Ivey Abitz

it is getting to be that time of year in florida that i dread. 

i know this makes no sense at all except maybe to someone who has grown up and lived in this state year in and year out, because it is quite beautiful at the moment. the sun is out and the air is coolish, or at least it isn’t humid yet. the orange blossoms are blooming as are all the citrus trees. so is the jasmine. so why do i dread this time of year? 

because i know in a month it’s going to get hot.  then it will be scorching. then….right around july and august, just when you think it can’t get any hotter – and this gets me every year – it does get just that much hotter. yes, you can fry an egg on the sidewalk. you could burn one on the highway, if there wasn’t so much traffic on u.s. 19, a major highway thru this state. it’s like a highway going right down the middle of shopping centers and strip malls for hundreds of miles. 

so what does this have to do with clothes and design, you might ask? 

you will see quite an array of hot weather fashion here. from polyester with elastic waist pants to loud flower print moo moo’s. i could go on, but you get the picture. i remember the days of straw handbags with shells stuck to them, or woven wood purses with decoupage city scapes painted on them. eek. in some ways, though, i must say i do get a bit nostalgic for the kitschy 50’s and 60’s florida style. even the 40’s. i wasn’t around for most of those decades (maybe one), but it survived here for a long time. i mean, who doesn’t miss the alligator ashtrays and pink flamingo drinking glasses? now it’s just sad, in my opinion. overbuilt, cheap sadness. i even miss the neon and the dinosaurs.  i digress. 

the point about clothing? 

well, it is also the time of year that i start thinking about what i can possibly wear to stay cool enough that i don’t pass out when i walk out of my house (the heat sometimes literally takes my breath away – it’s like walking into a furnace) but stylish enough that i can still live with myself. this is where Ivey Abitz comes in. sometimes it is difficult to plan a wardrobe under these hot conditions, but not with Ivey Abitz. the process is simple. i know that i will get a fabric book and a look book (i have a special place for all of mine) and the website with all of the new ensembles and separates. 

believe it or not, i can wear (with a heat absorbing tank) the ivey abitz silk spun taffeta in floridian heat. i can wear a bartholdi overlay like a top with nothing underneath-except the tank, otherwise it may be a bit x-rated for me.  back in the day a bathing suit top would have worked….oh to be young again (ewwww i sound like my grandmother-yikes!). but even if 40’s are the new 30’s (that’s plural because i’m over 40) i still can’t bring myself to do it. i never thought it would happen to me (i don’t think anyone ever sees this coming), but it did.  i hate to admit it but there are things that i think might be too young for me. 

god forbid that my father-in-law, who is english, calls me or even thinksmutton dressed as lamb,” in regard to me. it doesn’t really matter because i can’t think of a design in the pack that would make me feel that way (minus the bartholdi overlay w/out a tank under it). Ivey Abitz designs are ageless. 

i can dress (or loan for a very short time) my 15 year old niece (in) something of mine that i would wear and we would both look good. they are neither too old or too young….ageless.  i love it. i like to think of myself that way so there you go. again, i’m off the subject.  i was writing about fabrics and the heat…..so…..let me get back to it.  i am sure everyone reading this knows that natural fabrics are best. they breathe in the heat and are warm in the cold weather.  they look…well, natural.  it doesn’t matter what synthetics are invented – and there even are some good new ones – natural fabrics have that certain quality that is classic in every way. 

in this floridian heat, i can and have worn linen hemstitch jacquard, a silk linen doubleweave, and the ribbed silk linen – all from 2007’s autum 2 collection.  at that time of year, florida is still quite warm, but i can wear them in comfort. i can wear any linen because they are light enough for summer. when it does (finally) get a little cold here, i can layer linen with any of the fabrics – i look for texture because i don’t have to really worry about “warmth fabrics,” they are perfect for our climate in winter.  i do wish i could wear the Ivey Abitz velvets and the wools here, but i can’t remember a winter in recent history where i could wear those fabrics more than once. maybe next year, if they are offered. on the other hand, there is so much in fabric to choose from that i can’t see not being able to find something to work in any climate, in any season, for myself.

Gushing About Eleanor. The Shirt, That Is.

now have i mentioned the eleanor? how many times? i love, love, love (how many times have i said that?) my eleanor shirts! they are so perfectly simple and practical, in fact i may actually have one for every day of the week. but who’s counting? there are so many fabric choices that all of the clothing pieces look completely different! 

where do you stop? how can you stop? i am so excited that cynthia came out with another shirt based on the same cut. i will no doubt be in double trouble now with the trelawny shirt (don’t you love the name?). 

you know how they say you can never have too many…what is it? shoes & bags? well, i can never have too many shirts. the eleanor i can definitely wear anytime, anywhere, and i never have to worry about anything because it hangs perfectly, in or out. tied in the back or the front or even with the ties wrapped on the sides. 

i can say that about all of the ivey abitz shirts, and i especially love the baedeker, the bartholdi & the eleanor. i am sure that soon i will have some new favorites (from the newly released designs) as well. 

i think i may even have a forerunner of eleanor — i think she was called “ella” and had a black silk trim, and i love, love (etc.) that one too! 

i am not usually a gushy type of person but i do have to admit that i can talk about these designs with extra enthusiasm because i do love & admire so many different aspects of them.