Journey into a Complete IA Bespoke Wardrobe

Journey into a complete IA wardrobe, and you will find a dream come true. Clients express this sentiment to us during each collection we create. This is a part of one such story.

Meet Karen, an Ivey Abitz enthusiast. Originally from the Western U.S., she moved to the Midwest and has devoted her life to nursing, helping others, and raising her children.

Karen wears her Ivey Abitz Hambledon Duster Coat and Fennefleur Frock on a walk.
Karen wears her Ivey Abitz bespoke Hambledon Duster Coat and Fennefleur Frock on a walk.

Discovering Ivey Abitz, Karen fell head over heels for the aesthetic and philosophy of the collection. Her enthusiasm inspires us as she carefully chooses garments from each collection to build her everyday wardrobe.

Karen wrote us a note recently about her journey into a complete IA bespoke wardrobe. Thanks to Karen for allowing us to share her words with the rest of the world.

Ivey Abitz garments don’t distract from the inner woman, and that is why I love them so much. Our society/culture has in some ways gone to the other extreme and exposed women’s bodies more. Being covered in these garments, I believe, is respectful to me, others, and God. It is abusive to sexualize women and distract from their inner beauty. It disrespects us all.

I love what you said in your recent note: “Authenticity and truth is more attractive than anything else in this world.” It is so true. And I like your philosophy of authentic everyday. I have started to wear my Ivey Abitz garments every day – to the grocery store, library, post office, etc.

Thanks for being one of the leaders of the battle against conformity in our society/culture. You not only believe it, you live it, you provide it for others – it’s wonderful! There is one thing I believe that we should all be one in, and that is one in heart. As long as we are loving, kind, and respectful then we can be one in intention and purpose.

I love and support your mission on Earth. I believe that in 100 years women will cherish an Ivey Abitz [garment] they might inherit or find at an estate sale and they will say, “Who was this Ivey Abitz? She surely made women look classy and beautiful!”

– Karen

Karen wears her Ivey Abitz bespoke Canterbury Cardigan and Fennefleur Frock at the county fair.
Karen wears her Ivey Abitz bespoke Canterbury Cardigan and Fennefleur Frock at the county fair.
Karen wears her bespoke Hambledon Duster Coat and Anabel Frock.
Karen wears her bespoke Hambledon Duster Coat and Anabel Frock.

Beacon of Hope

 

An important part of our mission at Ivey Abitz is to celebrate individuality. But this week we also experienced solidarity. We received an extra outpouring of gratitude from clients finding solace in their Ivey Abitz clothing. We’re so grateful to our beloved clients across the country – and the world – for sharing your hopes and fears with us. You continue to show grace and love through your words, and you exemplify how we can find hope in our everyday lives.

What clients are saying this week…

“Thank you for putting beauty out into the world. We need it now, more than ever before.”

“I’ve worn my favourite Ivey Abitz outfits all week. It is helping me through this difficult time.”

“The clothing you make for me is a beacon of hope.”

“We must surround ourselves with beauty and goodness. Thank you for being a refuge for me.”

“My new fall clothing arrived this week, just when I needed it most. It helps empower me to get out into the world and continue working hard to make this world a better place.”

Transformation

by Kimberly from Pennsylvania

I like the idea of new starts and the transformation they can bring.  Moving around as a child it seemed like I got a chance at a fresh start every year and a half or so.  I always wanted to be someone cool, different than who I was.  But my plans always went awry and I was always just me. 

Continuing the trend as an adult, I left my hometown just outside of Pittsburgh to live in very different places like Washington, D.C., Providence, RI, and Kansas City, each time I was determined to be the “real” me. Along the way I picked up a husband, some good friends, a myriad of pets, a few houses, some pounds, and one – and then eventually another – son.  And while I stayed in the same line of business (advertising) I changed jobs, too. 

In a few years I will be coming up on a half-century mark. I guess I have been transforming into me all this time. Finding Ivey Abitz clothes help me complete the picture of how I want to appear. Unique, pulled together, quality, and with a quirky vintage twist.

Six months ago I left the hot sweaty Midwest and headed back to my hometown.  My goal is to find a quality of life I have always wanted.  My own business and a dream house.  I’m on my way to my own business and I have found a house.

Things don’t always turn out like you think they will. I have stopped trying to find the real me and work with what I have –  the real me.  The business I am building is not what I envisioned.  I had pictured a cute little shop of some sort but in reality my husband and I are opening a fingerboard park and store to compete with a European brand my boys love. We hope to be a success and I think we will be.   Once I can swing my loan I will have my Victorian dream house that will ultimately be a retreat for women looking for time to craft, talk, or just let their hair down without the kids and husbands to worry about.

And when it all comes together I’ll be wearing my Ivey Abitz.

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?

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.

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.

Finding Healing in Ivey Abitz Garments

Caution for sensitive readers: this entry mentions losing a loved one. 

So, I have been wearing Ivey Abitz designs for awhile now, and I have paid attention to more than the external factors of comfort, flow, fit, fabric, etc. I have noticed something internal; that is, how I feel inside when I wear a design, when I walk in it, when I relate to the world in it. I’ve given thought to something about identity and wearable art. I’ve given thought to healing and wearable art. 

I’ve learned that we gather different identities through our lives. These identities are heavily influenced by people around us, the culture we live in, and the circumstances of our lives. We sometimes get stuck in an identity when it no longer fits. The bad news is, identity is fluid. The good news is, identity is fluid. 

So, what does identity have to do with wearable art? What does wearable art have to do with healing? What is my own experience with all of this? 

Two experiences come to mind. 

My son died by his own hand at age 23. After a tumultuous adolescence, he had appeared to “settle down” and move forward. He was doing well in college, had an apartment, and our relationship was magnificently healed. The shock of his death changed all these perceptions of well being. 

As fluidity would have it, my identity also abruptly changed right after his death. I have since learned that after a significant loss or change, we have to rebuild our sense of identity. “Who am I now?”  Well, I figured that out pretty quickly. At that time, I was a bad mother and a failure.  

That sense of myself manifested in many ways. Mostly, I tried to overcompensate to prove to people I wasn’t a bad person. Among other things, I stopped wearing clothing that was expensive, beautiful, or attracted attention to myself. Instead of honoring my grief and expressing it with dignity through “mourning attire” as people have done throughout the ages, I instead turned into an invisible frump. If I had known Cynthia Ivey Abitz at that time, I know she would have listened to me, understood me, and helped me discover and express both the fragility and strength in my grief.  

The healing in all of this is the way in which I could have reframed that identity crisis; possibly from fracture to one of transformation. I know she would have worked with me to select designs, materials, fit, and embellishments so that what I wore on the outside reflected what I felt on the inside….in a loving way rather than the punishing way that I had been choosing.  

There are many healing practices. I believe that the Ivey Abitz processes of listening, understanding, validating, and finally creating wearable art for personal expression is truly one of the healing arts.

Ivey Abitz Clothing as a Healer

I have recently experienced a kind of healing through the personal expression of wearable art.  

I am an older woman now. As fluidity would have it, my sense of self has been changing. I am once again rebuilding my identity with the circumstances of my life. I have moved to an area of the country that is breathtakingly gorgeous but rather remote. Over the past several years, I noticed that I had lost some of my dash. I had begun wearing more utilitarian clothing….pants, tops, skirts, more tops. What I’d been wearing has affected how I have been feeling and how I have been feeling has affected what I have been wearing. Follow that circle long enough, and sense of self—identity—becomes affected.  

I’ve tried to find the right words for how I have felt….and I can’t quite find them, but I’ll try. It’s not bad….but as I can see now, I have just been limited…not my full or best self. I have felt strong, healthy, sometimes invisible, functional, bland, solid, competent, “sporty.”  

Again, not bad, but not complete. 

Then, I started wearing Ivey Abitz designs last summer. Since wearing them, I have reclaimed parts of me that had been fading away. When I slip into a piece of unique, comfortable, sophisticated wearable art, my experience of myself changes. I feel interesting again (and I am!), vital (I am), attractive (I can be), with a bit of penache (and I love that!). Something else happens as well. I feel better about presenting myself. Wearing clothing that is art itself tends to open me rather than the feeling that I often have of hiding or shutting down. I simply feel more self assured because I know it brings out the best elements in me. Maybe a little psychological osmosis occurs. Or, in a word, healing. Maybe a little healing occurs.