Southern Sartorial Elegance

by Anita in the South

I am Southern, born and bred. Growing up, my grandmothers made many of my outfits and by age ten, I was sewing in 4-H. I know the hours of work that go into the touches, the details, that make an ensemble not only look perfect but FEEL perfect. I have spent many an evening as a teen, taking out stitching that wasn’t just so and pinning for top stiching, lapping seams, laying a pattern so that the designs in the fabric would flow, and basting for hours.

My mother had a seamstress, Miss Barton, that made many of her outfits, bound button holes, detailing, even her own labels, and I would ride with her for her fittings. (Any of you recall Leiter fabrics??) My mother would never have been caught wearing the same dress as someone else. Growing up Southern in the late 50’s and 60’s, the fashion rules that had been laid down for generations still held and will be with me always. We NEVER wore white after Labor Day or straw before Easter. Ladies did not wear jeans. I was 21 before I even tried on a pair! (Apologies to those of you who look great in jeans…most of us DO NOT.) Fashion was an experience to be enjoyed.

I was shopping Ivey Abitz before Cynthia started her own designs, so I was one of the first in line. Like my mother, I don’t want to meet myself coming and going in mass produced clothing.

Most of my wardrobe is now Ivey Abitz. I spend hours and multiple emails with Cynthia planning and seeking her advice on what ensembles to add (she keeps up so well with what you already have!). She is endlessly patient and helps me make the perfect choices for each season. She knows my likes and dislikes and her attention to her patrons is reflected in her incredibly comfortable designs. I never feel that my clothes are wearing me. (Think serious fashion mistakes you made in college.)

Somewhere along the way, feminine became the F word. The rags that pass for fashion make me dread long airline flights or trips to the market. I wear my IA ensembles everywhere, traveling costumes, at home, parties, and I look feminine and feel feminine. Cynthia has embraced a feeling of a more refined and dignified Time in her collections. I have found a sartorial home at IA and I never have to leave my home to browse and plan. I love opening the packages–a presentation in themselves.

Thank you, Cynthia.

-Anita in the South

P.S. Invest in the fabric swatches. There is no substitute for holding the fabric and looking at it in natural light and thinking carefully about your selections.

NYC in Ivey Abitz and Memories of a Fashionable Great-Grandmother

by Deborah in Rhode Island

Travels with my new Solomon Skirt: My VW Bug and I made it to Brooklyn by early evening on Saturday. A 9 p.m. dinner at Luz with friends and I’m still wearing my lovely Solomon Skirt. I feel luxurious in it – designed by Cynthia Ivey Abitz and made perfectly for me by extraordinary hands. Not a wrinkle from sitting in a car for four hours. A sip of my minty Mojiito and I feel positively glamorous.

It was exciting news when Ivey Abitz moved to New York City. NYC is one of my favorite places to visit and I imagine that it’s such a wonderful opportunity for a designer. Much of Cynthia’s “look” reminds me of my great-grandmother, Emma. She was born in the late 1800’s and went to Pratt Institute to study Fashion Design. My mother remembers her well – very tall, very slim, very elegant, and very fashionable.

Apparently she missed NYC after she left Pratt so she often took her daughter (my grandmother) with her to NY for weekend trips. Emma continued this tradition with my mother who remembers walking around NYC for hours and hours hoping that Emma would get tired of walking, shopping, etc. My grandmother and mother kept up the tradition and showed me around NYC as a young girl, and those are some of my best memories. I think that I was fascinated by remarkable clothing early on – my great-grandmother’s legacy. I still have a beautiful and very heavy crocheted lace skirt and jacket that belonged to her – it is amazing how small waists were! And how tall she was! When I heard of Ivey Abitz’s move to NYC, the memories of my fashionable great-grandmother, Emma, came immediately to mind. She would have looked spectacular in Ivey Abitz.

( technorati claim code: 4n67cgs52f )

The Phrase Vintage Inspired Clothes

by Kimberly from Pennsylvania

I’m addicted.

In 2008, I made a pledge to wear as little mass-produced clothing as possible and started to seek out individual designers and websites that featured handmade items. 

Little did I know that by innocently Googling the phrase “vintage inspired clothes” one day last summer would cause me to become an addict.

Yes, an addict. Now I know what that term really means.  I have been known to think about rich creamy chocolate in addictive terms but this was different.

I had discovered Ivey Abitz. And my world will never be the same again. 

Florentine Jacket by Ivey Abitz
Florentine Jacket as featured in the Ivey Abitz Fall 2008 Look Book.

I just could not stop looking at the Fall Look Book. I kept going back again and again and finally I decided on a few pieces. Since I wear a lot of black I stuck with that palette. A black & white Florentine Jacket in textured silk and a pair of Mercer Trousers in black Premium Irish Linen were my first choices. How could I go wrong?

Now my agony would truly begin.  I had to wait for my order to be made just for me.
 
After the first few weeks I would keep going back to my order confirmation page and check my order status.  “Order in progress” – how I learned to hate that phrase.  Then I received my notification that my items shipped. I was ecstatic and practically walking on air.
My waiting was not in vain. 

The linen trousers were opened first.  The quality of the linen was superb.  Just lovely. My new pants were a dream.  I held them up and instantly thought of 4-5 ways to wear them. They go with everything.

My Florentine Jacket was a surprise.  It was a combination of cool funky with the raw edged seams and a very lady like vibe. I wear it with everything from a black pencil skirt, funky tights and shoes, to other Ivey Abitz items. 

Needless to say, I was not disappointed by my first purchase from Ivey Abitz. And I can assure you there will be more to come. 

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.