Deciding on an Ivey Abitz Wardrobe with A Little Help from the Designer Herself

by Kimberly from Pennsylvania

I would like to think I’m pretty good at putting outfits together, but in reality I’m probably hit or miss.  When my outfit is a good one it’s pretty great but some of my misses would make me eligible for that TV show with the secret footage. 


One huge mistake is not following the advice from fashion gurus.  Buy an outfit – not pieces. And what do I do? I buy pieces. I know I’m not alone. Many women do this. You end up with a great skirt but nothing really fabulous to wear with it. So not only does the skirt languish in your closet, but by not wearing it you have spent your money in vain.  

And you say you don’t have anything to wear. Now you know why.


No more bits and pieces of clothing for me. This spring and summer would be different. Yes, I vowed.  But now what should I do? After looking at the Ivey Abitz website for like the millionth time I turned to my new best friend. Yes. I decided my new style guru would help me look great and pulled together. After looking at the website and picking some of my favorites I complied a list and sent it to Cynthia Ivey Abitz. 


Through email we talked about my choices, fabrics, my likes and dislikes and of course my budget.  Then she sent me a list of what looked like a wonderful start to building a useful and pulled together look that I can wear for years.

By doing this I would have the basics to look great this spring and summer. But there is flexibility in this list. I originally wanted the Camilla Dress in a winter fabric but decided that a Baedeker Shirt would help me fill in gaps in my wardrobe better. Not only will it always go with my Ivey Abitz pieces but it also works well with my existing clothing. 

The point is I have a guide now. I know if I purchase something off my list (even though I really want everything) it will work.  And that’s what I need in my life. Stuff that works.

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!

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.

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.