Mother always recommended quality material, pretty colors, and simple designs

by Gerri from Texas

As a relatively new Ivey Abitz customer, I am amazed at how quickly I have become addicted to Cynthia’s gorgeous creations! They put to shame much of the other brands in my closet. I love how they coordinate with other Ivey Abitz pieces, as well as clothes I have had for years and still wear.

A dear friend and I had a very lengthy conversation several months ago.  We are convinced that we were born into the wrong century. Both of us love Victorian and Edwardian clothes and jewelry much more than we like the current trends.  We were both raised in the South and still adhere to the rules of fashion taught by our mothers: no white shoes or clothes before Easter or after Labor Day, etc. My mother always recommended quality material, pretty colors, and simple designs, and I have never forgotten what she said, although I do like the occasional odd and quirky piece.

Cynthia Ivey Abitz designs the most amazing and beautiful wearable art that I have found, and this art supports my vintage-wear wants and needs. In addition, these garments are so very comfortable, versatile, and they actually fit. No more of those one-size-fits-most clothes, where the shirts could double for dresses on my 5 foot 3 frame and the skirts drag on the ground. The ability to choose from  a range of measurements in Ivey Abitz garments ensures a flattering fit. I also love all of the little extras that differentiate the mundane garment from the spectacular garment. Thank you, Rebecca – one of the Ivey Abitz beloved seamstresses – for the tiny pin tucks in my Cordelia Shirt! The quality my mother recommended is found in every piece of Ivey Abitz clothing. There are no stiff tags poking into the back of my neck, no scratchy seams – no flaws whatsoever, and these gorgeous clothes are made in the USA, which is another definite plus.

I hate the current trend of midriff-baring, deep cleavage-showing, skin tight clothes. I love the grace, quality, sheer beauty and elegance of my Ivey Abitz wardrobe. The ease of layering these gorgeous pieces can hide so many figure flaws.  I also love the second looks I sometimes get while out and about.  My fellow Ivey Abitz aficionados know what I mean – that admiring and envious look from other women who are wondering where we found that gorgeous outfit!

Last, but most definitely not least, there is Cynthia Ivey Abitz herself, a lovely lady who is always willing to help in my clothing and accessory selections. Thank you, Cynthia.

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 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.

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…

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.