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.

Having Babies Changes Everything – but NEVER a Sense of Style

Until I met my husband, I never wanted kids. I never wanted a wedding in the grand sense. We compromised: Elvis walked me down the aisle in Vegas, and I said I would think about kids. I did think about it and decided that at 30 it was time. Apparently my body had other notions, and, like all good things that come to those who wait, I had twins at 33. God has a sense of humor. I wanted one child. What I got were two girls. I knew then that my husband was in deep trouble. Girls tend to shop like their mothers. I am pretty sure he will need to get another job once they get a wee bit older.

When the husband and I met, it was less than love at first sight. I shocked his east coast sensibilities with the profusion of black dresses and black hair, funky six inch platform boots and leather coats. To this day he wears garanimals for adults, or what is better known as (insert international mall chain label here). Takes all the guess work out of the morning. He got used to dating a girl who didn’t shop at the mall and I got used to dating a frat boy. Go figure.

Like I said before, I love a good costume and that’s what dressing was like before kids. The work costume of pencil skirts and jackets meshed with the cropped pants, tight tee shirts and funky long coats. Six inch heels were not a problem. I liked the edginess of walking into a meeting and being six feet tall. I also liked that my clothes had a structure all their own. There was nothing baggy or boxy, no soft cottons or linens, no dresses without slips. Weight fluctuation was not an option. My after hours costumes varied from fishnets and short dresses with ridiculously high boots to short skirts and concert tees with vintage leather jackets and heels. I am pretty sure there was little to no casual costume.

Then came kids, two at once. There was that six month period after they arrived that I don’t remember so I have no idea what I dressed like. There is one picture where I had apparently bleached my hair platinum. Big mistake. Once some semblance of sanity arrived I discovered that I had nothing to wear. Literally since I had gotten pregnant at a size 2 and woke up a size ten. I had to rethink and repurchase my wardrobe. I don’t get a lot of sympathy from people. My husband does.

I couldn’t very well go back to the the pre-kids style. I needed to move. To bend down, lay down, sit down… generally be down. I needed to walk a stroller, chase a toy, carry babies. I was getting spit up on fairly regularly so silk was out of the question. So I started collecting. Shoes came first so I turned to Cydwoq for my every day shoes. Comfortable and funky. Next I had to evaluate what I could wear on a daily basis and decided on cropped and wide leg pants in basic colors (Mercer Trousers are some). I have about 50 black t-shirts, which may sound like too many but when one can go through five in an afternoon with a spitty baby, 50 is almost too few. Button down tops became the enemy, just not worth it. I figured I would get some great sweaters, jackets, and coats to throw over the tees. I kept my eclectic side and just pared down the tailoring. I’ve bought lots of dresses and frocks once the girls quit spitting up. I was amassing my new wardrobe. I was on a roll. I had purchased heels and some going out on the town clothes, I was ready to go. I was the cool mom, the well dressed mom who didn’t own khakis or wear yoga pants in public. Then I got pregnant again, because God has a sense of humor. I have two weeks and six days to go.

From Youth to Pregnancy

When I was young…. no that’s wrong. When I was younger… that’s much better… I wore clothes to differentiate myself from the herd. Hard to do in catholic school with the unspoken rule of conformity. Only grandmothers in mourning wore black. I and a few fellow cohorts also wore black. Lots of black. We dyed things black. The more outlandish the better – buckle boots, black hats, vests over black poet shirts, leggings under skirts with petticoats. So very dramatic. It was a costume every day. I love a good costume. Naturally, we differentiated ourselves so much you couldn’t tell us apart. Irony comes to mind.

Spending my 20’s in San Francisco was liberating in so many ways. I found clothes. Lots of them. I also found that I knew nothing of the difference between wearing clothes and being dressed. I would much rather be dressed. The connotation of attending an impending event, one where thought and care would go into every stitch chosen, still appeals to me. Granted that event was often grabbing a guinness at a pub. It didn’t matter. (I don’t wear sweats to the market. Well, I do now, but that’s just until the latest baby arrives. I hate sweats.) People around me dressed too. Not always in what is defined as well-dressed, but with spirit, with gusto, with confidence, such confidence. No need to shock and awe through clothing, but more like elegant birds of different eras all crashing together in a thoroughly modern and individualistic way. I like that.

I started collecting. Many items of clothing I have now, 16 years later. I still wear them. I found local designers and had things made – skirts with trains, coats with bell sleeves, corsets trimmed with lace. I have to admit it’s been a couple of years since the corsets came out – I’ll save those for the twins.

Currently I sit and stare at my clothing. I have four weeks until the little one arrives to join his sisters. Most people would be lining the nest for the baby, picking out bumpers and footies with matching hats. Not I, oh no. I took care of nest lining months ago. Now I get to add some key items to the post pregnancy section of my closet. I have spent months wearing the equivalent of jersey jammies that are destined for some sort of bonfire. It is very difficult to consider oneself dressed when the primary concern is not letting ones belly hang out. It is also hard to feel well put together when it takes five minutes to put on socks. At four minutes 30 seconds I am winded and ready for a nap. Like a raven drawn to shiny objects, I am searching out that interesting pleat, the perfect silhouette, something transitional that I can still wear in six months… like the Luella Overlay in black cotton floral lace.

I’ll sneak it in the house somehow.


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!)

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 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?