The Versatility of the Sophia Camisole

ahhh…the sophia camisole.  a BIG success for such a little piece. 

if you have read any of my previous entries, you will know i like to experiment with cynthia’s designs. i am always doing something with something and this has nothing to do with me really — it’s because the clothes are so very versatile and they are naturally made to wear in many different ways. their versatility is one of the many things that i like about the designs in addition to the “perfection of imperfection, the “art to wear, and the fact that you cannot find clothes like this anywhere but here. well, at the moment. i wouldn’t be surprised one day if this was a worldwide label — though i really don’t know what the “house of ivey abitz” has in mind for the future. but i do think that whatever the Ivey Abitz’s do with their line, it will be as big and renowned as they want it to be. 

as i was saying…..sorry i do tend to go off on tangents! 

but anyway the other day i was wearing my sophia camisole…..i had it over an eleanor shirt. i can go on & on about eleanor, too. she is just one of my favorites of all times — and i probably will go on more about her later! 

but my dilemma, and what got me thinking of how to wear the sophia different ways, was the fact that i happened to want to tuck the eleanor in and tie it in back but then i had the problem of what to do with the tie to the sophia camisole. i love the fact that the strings on this are very long (i can wrap it around twice if i want), but i didn’t want to do that this time either so i started experimenting with the wrap. what i finally did was criss-cross the tie in front. then i brought the ends of the tie and wrapped them each around the sleeveless part of the camisole at the shoulder. after that i tucked in the ends and made a tie — not a bow, but a tie — and tucked that in so it looked wrapped. very cool. it stayed that way all day, and i didn’t have to fuss with it once.

Comrades in Ivey Abitz

i would just like to comment here about some of the other writers’ points of view on ivey abitz designs. i really liked reading their input. we don’t know each other, but when it comes to this clothing, we have a lot in common.  

i loved maeve’s description of the baedeker shirt. i have several of these from a lichen (dark) striped taffeta to an irish linen, a ribbed silk and a black cotton jacuard (what a score that was!) everything that maeve said about the elegance and panache is right on. the only thing i can basically repeat — as she has really already said it all — is that this design is so versatile because it is elegant but casual all at once. 

in addition, maeve wrote about the camilla shirt. this is one i haven’t tried yet and am looking forward to this now, too. to say that ivey abitz really helped to change your identity is saying a lot — i can’t imagine what you have gone thru with such a traumatic loss that you have suffered. i send you my sincere sympathy and thanks, maeve. 

then there is karen from british columbia and her stories of growing up in beverly hills that made for great reading. i love the from beverly hills to organic farming in b.c. — in ivey abitz! some of that reminded me of myself. i am in a small florida town where the people i know shop the gamut, from big box discount stores to high end department stores, and there aren’t a lot of choices in between these extremes. this is why i started shopping on line in the first place. online is where i discovered ivey abitz.  

before that and when i was younger, we perused the thrift shops in search of the vintage treasure that used to be widely available (i am just up the way from st. petersburg, florida!) now, all of those are picked over — not even the old florida kitsch is left. at least that had its charm. i am glad i did have a chance to get the stuff when it was available. wealthy retirees from all over the country moving down to florida used to make thrift shopping an exciting — and profitable in many ways — hunt for treasure. 

i would like to thank you both – i think this blog is a great idea!

I Have Worn It Backwards

How many bartholdi overlays does one need?  

A LOT! 

i have many pieces of Ivey Abitz and as i have said before, i rarely if ever wear anything else. the designs i used to wear before discovering Ivey Abitz went to the dry cleaner and then were carefully covered – to the back of the closet went the *designer name removed*, the *designer name removed*, and even the other art to wear designers that i dearly loved and looked forward to every season (and bought way too much of). some are brand new with the tags still attached. anyway, that is another story for another time, maybe but you get the idea. there is no other designer out there that even comes close to Ivey Abitz.  

so the bartholdi overlay — first let me give you an idea of what i look like because i have “special needs”. it is because i am short. not just short. short is what?  5′ 3′?  i wish! no, i am really short. i am 5 ft. — just. i weigh between 100 and 105, so i am considered normal, but of course i am never happy (95 lbs. is perfection to me). that is still another story, but my point is that i do have short legs, so i am considered petite and i find it difficult to buy clothes.  some tall gals think that it is a drag being tall and would rather be petite but it isn’t.  no way-i think most people would agree that it is better for wearing certain clothes to be taller. the bartholdi overlay is great for everything every day and because of all the fabrics available…..well i have quite a few. the design is more than a vest but not quite a shirt or top. it is something like a tunic but more creative and with more options. it is….well, an original.  

as small as i am, i can wear it for many occasions and for many reasons. a fat day – they make you look thinner and taller. a thin day – they just make you look good. i wear platforms – i have discovered some comfy ones, so i won’t look so short. they give me a good 3 inches, and i pull jeans way down as far as possible and scrunch them, too. combined with the bartholdi overlay, i become magically….normal sized! 

i have worn the bartholdi overlay the way it is designed, and i have worn it backwards. i have worn it to formal occasions – i had the misfortune to attend 3 funerals over the summer, and in our community a funeral is a week long event, so i got a lot of use out of my overlays in the more formal fabrics and the taffetas. i went to my neice’s school play and wore my cotton yarn dyed bartholdi over a bartholdi shirt. i can and do wear them with just about anything. i love them with the eleanor shirts, which is a staple piece and i have several of those as well. 

then, in my mind is the mini me version of the bartholdi overlay, and that is the camilla vest. the day before yesterday i wore a camilla vest…somehow i managed to pull the ties under the sides of the vest, then over the cross piece in front and tied it over that piece. it is hard to explain, but it illustrates how versatile these whimsical pieces – out of the endless imagination of cynthia’s – really are.

The Perfection of Imperfection

yesterday i wore my celia shirt. i haven’t worn it in awhile and because i love it so much, i wondered why. certain pieces are so beautiful to me that i tend to treat them like treasure. this is one of those pieces. the first time i wore the celia shirt, i pulled off that beautiful tie with the three brooches attached and tied it up and wore it as a necklace with the shirt. in fact i have used the necklace with other shirts, too. yesterday i used the tie for the shirt the way it was meant to be worn. sometimes i wear a belt with it, but again it had been awhile. by mid-day i said to myself, “oh, i really do have to have another celia shirt.” 

one of the reasons that a piece of clothing will go into the treasure chest (figuratively speaking) is what i call the perfection of imperfection. in my opinion, the human hand is the true quality of a piece of art. what i mean by that is that when you see the frayed edges — or the parts of the piece of art to wear and what makes it look handmade — they are the parts that you know were not made by a machine but have the permanent embellishment or stamp of the human touch. it may not be obvious because those seams are perfect so it is a little hard to describe. but it is there. they are, for instance, the pleats and folds in the sleeves of the bartholdi shirt. the frayed edges of the duomo jacket and the celia shirt. the sleeves and neckline of the cozette jacket. and the fact that many of the pieces are washed and dyed by hand to give a more vintage quality. all of these very special touches are to me what makes ivey abitz designs art. it is the essence of all art. the human hand, the human touch.

simple everyday laundering methods for ivey abitz garments

i really do believe that these ivey abitz clothes are made to wear every day, and i do wear them every day. i wear them to work at our soap company where i am making things by hand. i am getting into all sorts of creams, essential oils, carrier oils, soaps, body products and experiments in general — things that we make, and overall to do the things i do every day. i pick up my cats wearing them, i pet my dogs and take them here and there. i don’t really worry about it because the garments wash beautifully. some pieces i wash by hand and they come out perfectly. i have never had a piece lose its color or otherwise look any different when i put them on the delicates or handwash cycle. some pieces i dry clean even though i know i don’t have to — i just do. usually because the dry cleaner presses them better than i do, or i don’t want to iron them at all. a lot of pieces don’t need it. depends on the look you want from the fabric. sometimes i prefer the crinkled look of silk taffeta, and sometimes i like it to show off the smooth, almost reflective sheen of this fabric. a lot of other fabrics fall into place without having to do a thing, right out of the wash.

postmodern capitalist hippie

i really discovered art to wear thru cynthia. i met her online through her gallery of fine art, and when she said she was coming out with her own line–well, truthfully i didn’t know what to expect, but in the meantime i felt i had come to know cynthia quite well, her knowledge of style & quality, her ethics of what she would & would not accept.  i didn’t know what to expect but i knew to expect all of this & more so i anticipated her first collection like a child waiting for christmas. 

well, i’m off to do this & that for work.  i have only dressed once & i am wearing an ivey abitz bartholdi shirt in very deep vintage rose georgette with a bartholdi overlay in vintage rose silk taffeta. i have a belt — an ivey abitz cozette jacket belt — that i used to wrap around a black knit cabbie hat.  this fabric is made from striped vintage rose silk taffeta.  with a pair of true religion joey jeans.  i’m a jeans queen by the way.  i must own 100 pair of jeans of course they are categorized as fat jeans & skinny jeans & at the moment i have a combo of baggy ones, ones that fit and tight ones.  i could wish for better but at least i can get them all on if i have to.  the outfits that i put together do define who i am & at the moment i would define myself & my look as postmodern capitalist hippie.

What is more important than how you present yourself to the world?

i have already decided that people who wear art are smart, strong, unique women & men, proud of their individuality. in adopting a  handmade identity wouldn’t that by its very nature be the case? 

my favorite thing that maeve from minnesota wrote is: the bad news is, identity is fluid.  the good news is identity is fluid.

i love that! 

i guess i should at this point id myself. i was born & raised an artist. a lot of my family are in the arts, and i grew up surrounded by art. i decided very early on that i would be a painter mostly, but painting branches out to other art forms, too. 

my husband & i own a soap company called get a guru. people often ask what this means…to me it means so many things, it can mean believe in something spiritual or believe in what you do, whatever it may be or have a philosophy-any philosophy it is a personal kind of statement that can be interpreted in many ways, kind of like interpreting a work of art. 

i think cynthia ivey abitz gets it. i think her entire philosophy gets it – that she loves and believes in what she is doing is reflected in her nature and in her designs – which brings me to what i love about Ivey Abitz designs, what they are to me, and why they are important in the larger scheme of things. 

i had a friend who i worked with & was a clothing designer. unfortunately, he passed away at a young age – he was 36. 

i guess i thought of his designs as couture – not as art to wear & not as being the same thing. Ivey Abitz designs, to me, characterize that term. art to wear it is. it allows one to appreciate art in a very basic way. it allows one to include art and to be creative in everyday life. what can be more basic than dressing for your day? 

in a way, what is more important than how you present yourself to the world? this says who we are before we do. i guess i’m the type that won’t go out in sweats, etc. i have one friend who even goes out in her pajamas!  this to me is really hilarious….& good for her, whatever. i just couldn’t do it. 

this same friend, who is really as close to me as a sister–we grew up together like family–anyway, one time after a particularly bodacious evening out she got up to go in her nightgown, high heels & pearls! on the other hand i sometimes change 5 times while dressing for the day. i mean from top to bottom. entire outfits. 

yes, i’m late to work every day. i am late to every event & my friends just expect it at this point. i have so many of cynthia’s clothes that i don’t know what to wear first! i love them all so much that i change & change again and again, deciding what to wear. so many options! they are made to work together so the possibilities are endless. i have so much fun that dressing has almost become one of my hobbies. in terms of collecting beautiful handmade designs, with gorgeous fabrics, this certainly has become a hobby. i seriously cannot get enough of them. i love them so much that i won’t wear anything else. if Ivey Abitz made underwear i would have them, too.

Ivey Abitz from the Inside Out

I’ve discovered that I’m coming to prefer just about everything on a smaller, more intimate scale. Our own food supply is one thing. A small community and personal service is another. Handmade, timeless clothing from limited runs of speechlessly beautiful fabric and with loving, well-placed details is yet another. Prior to every ivey abitz order I placed, there was an event coming up for which I’d purchased each piece. (That’s the official story, anyway. It was a convenient excuse to buy the pieces I loved.) Each time, comically, the event was either indefinitely postponed or cancelled entirely. Sometimes it was weather-related, sometimes not. 

In the meantime, they instantly became the most stunning members of my closet, eclipsing even my formerly most prized and flattering pieces. The day I wore my black sueded silk Bartholdi skirt into town (not exactly the ceremony for which it had been purchased, but she had a good sense of humour about it), my husband kept gushing about how much he liked it and how well it suited me, and even the postmaster raced out from behind the counter to stroke the silk (she’s a woman, it was OK) and admire the wild, elegant design that I like to call controlled chaos. More than any of the compliments, though, it felt so good to wear, and instantly elevated my mood and reminded me of the transformative power of a well-conceived, beautifully handcrafted article of clothing that was literally made just for me. I was reminded of my powerful desire to both create and be surrounded by beauty, and what it does for me from the inside out.

Organic Farming – in Ivey Abitz

The ivey abitz collection debuted right about when we moved from Alberta to a small mountain town in British Columbia, and the timing was perfect. I’d been purchasing pieces from the other designers’ collections that IA used to carry, and already loved the quirky, unusual, “boutique” items that I didn’t see on every other person on the street. But I was blown away by the exceptional quality, attention to detail and point of view of the ivey abitz pieces. They were so far above and beyond even the other lines represented at the gallery, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. I even look forward to receiving the swatch books, and have kept each one and engage in some tactile time now and then, enjoying their textures. 

Our beautiful little town in B.C. has been a culture shock, too. I keep describing it to friends as Green Acres revisited, and it’s no exaggeration. I’m playing the Eva Gabor role, wearing my beautiful clothes in a sea of casually clad retirees and far more polyester than is strictly necessary. I’m even Hungarian, just like Eva. We started an organic farm and now have cows, goats, chickens and ducks and are facing the usual challenges in taking care of them while still maintaining our sense of humour. My husband and I wanted out of the industrial food supply, and to become more self-sufficient in both the big and small things in our everyday lives. It’s not for the faint of heart, but I wouldn’t live in a big city again for any temptation.

The Birth of Discernment

My own group of artists, writers, and geeks was neither emaciated nor extraordinarily wealthy, so we ate with gusto, kept our food down and shopped on Melrose or Main Street to score cool vintage clothes that we’d mix up with more modern pieces and then swap among ourselves for greater variety. Even then, though there were occasional longings to have access to limitless finances, we knew deep down that budgets were more liberating than limiting; and that our resourcefulness and creativity muscles were getting exercised in ways that really opened our eyes to possibilities and unique combinations. Our templates weren’t models, which was liberating in itself. 

There was never any mention of the actual quality of the clothing, though; for the most part it was about the “look.” No one seemed to care about or notice the materials used (other than the fact that we all hated polyester and acrylic), the stitching, or anything as exotic as dressmaker details or handwork. With few exceptions, none of us was ready to recognize, appreciate or embrace the hallmarks of excellence that would later come to mean a great deal. But when the shift does take place, it’s mind-bending and extends into every other corner of your life. At that moment, discernment is born and your childhood is over. 

Fast forward a couple of decades. Something happens as you grow up. Cycles and trends become easy to predict, because we’ve finally lived through a few rounds of them and can see it all as a circle and not necessarily a linear progression. Trends are finally seen for what they are:  gimmicks to promote impulsive spending, and not benevolent offerings from exalted, over-hyped designers to enhance one’s personal style or uniqueness. But there are exceptions. 

to be continued in the next entry…