Traipsing Round the World in My Traipse Shirt

Traipse Shirt by Ivey Abitz
Traipse Shirt by Ivey Abitz

I love my Traipse shirt and its beautiful fabric of tiny knitted flowers (look closely) in a beautiful, rich black colour. It is so soft and cuddly.

It is the perfect piece to be wearing when one is visiting cuddly bears! More on the Traipse shirt in a moment. But first some background on the cuddly bears.

This May, I once again narrated a children’s show for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. These concerts are for the youngest members of the NSO audience. (“Is there a concert for me? I’m only three!”)

The concerts are called “Teddy Bear Concerts” and the children are allowed to bring their stuffies with them. There is also an instrument “petting zoo” before the show begins, with musical instruments for the audience to play, touch, and hear. A very nifty idea, I think.

Teddy Bear Concerts come in differing programs but I like to think that our program is special, for it is the only one about bears! Through poetry, music, and visuals, we visit different bears in their native countries. The music illustrates the country. For example, “Waltzing Matilda “ represents Australia and “Reel O’ Tolloch” represents Scotland. We visit 6 countries and I, as the storyteller, use accents from each country for the poetry.

Huge pictures of the bears we are visiting are revealed as we arrive in Scotland, Peru, USA, the Arctic Circle, Bulgaria, Australia, China, and even outer space for a robot-like space bear!

The wonderful thing about this concert is that it appeals on many levels. Adults find it fascinating to learn that all the bears that we see through the program are endangered, and that there is only one bear native to South America – the Spectacled Bear. We know that Koalas are marsupials and not bears, but we don’t let too many facts spoil the image of those lovely creatures as the musicians play “Matilda” and we sing along!

I love doing these shows…so much fun! We worked very hard to make it fun and educational, and the audiences have truly enjoyed it. We did it for the first time last year at the Kennedy Center, took it on tour twice, and then once again this year at the Kennedy Center. There is talk of future performances and all of the concerts have, thus far, sold out!

It is a pleasure to bring music to children. Some even get up and dance. We go with the flow, and the musicians are a delight to work with as are our audiences. Some of the children who have heard this concert when we are on tour have never heard live music before (please see my previous blog entries).

So, where does my Traipse Shirt come in?

The first year at the Kennedy Center, I wore my ever favourite Solomon Jacket in silk weave with a black skirt. [See Lynn-Jane’s bloggings from her 2010 NSO tour.] This year for the tour and the four shows in D.C., I wanted something new from the wonderful IA collection. I had to have a new piece that would travel easily and be easy to move and dance in.

Once again, I asked Cynthia’s advice, and, as usual, her suggestion was perfect. We decided that MY Traipse would be more of a jumper. That is one of the lovely things about IA designs: the flexibility and collaboration of CIA (Cynthia) and the patron. CIA? Isn’t that funny? I call her “Couturier Cynthia Ivey-Abitz.”

At my request, her seamstress made the shirt extra large and loose. I could roll up the sleeves for our “trek,” and I wore it for all four concerts and for a few concerts on tour. It worked beautifully. Cozy, comfortable and beautiful. A lovely black knit that looked perfect on stage!

A couple of the musicians remarked that they had not noticed the pattern on the weave until they saw the shirt closer, and that it was a perfect choice, as most of their wardrobe was in blacks and greys with touches of colour. My Scottish pin of feathers and thistle added the perfect bit of colour to my shirt/ sweater and was an appropriate piece for visiting Scotland.

So, that is how I “traipsed” around the world with CIA. Not undercover, but in the Family Theatre at the Kennedy Center. What a joy!

I leave you with a few lines of the poetry from the show. Adding a bit of a Chinese inflection (little ears cannot hear subtle differences in accents and there are so many in the show, thus I suggest them only). Lots of accent work and listening to tapes as I had to “get it right.” What more could one ask for? Great work, challenging work, neat stuff for children, super audiences, and a lovely new sweater.

Have you ever seen a bear so cute?
He lives in China – a far commute.
You may take a little snooze,
While pandas play in tall bamboo!

My thanks to Paula for the lovely poetry and my colleagues, Lewis, Elizabeth, Paula, and Joe for the wonderful music.

 

Lynn-Jane Foreman
AEA SAG AFTRA
Actor/ voicework

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.

Gushing About Eleanor. The Shirt, That Is.

now have i mentioned the eleanor? how many times? i love, love, love (how many times have i said that?) my eleanor shirts! they are so perfectly simple and practical, in fact i may actually have one for every day of the week. but who’s counting? there are so many fabric choices that all of the clothing pieces look completely different! 

where do you stop? how can you stop? i am so excited that cynthia came out with another shirt based on the same cut. i will no doubt be in double trouble now with the trelawny shirt (don’t you love the name?). 

you know how they say you can never have too many…what is it? shoes & bags? well, i can never have too many shirts. the eleanor i can definitely wear anytime, anywhere, and i never have to worry about anything because it hangs perfectly, in or out. tied in the back or the front or even with the ties wrapped on the sides. 

i can say that about all of the ivey abitz shirts, and i especially love the baedeker, the bartholdi & the eleanor. i am sure that soon i will have some new favorites (from the newly released designs) as well. 

i think i may even have a forerunner of eleanor — i think she was called “ella” and had a black silk trim, and i love, love (etc.) that one too! 

i am not usually a gushy type of person but i do have to admit that i can talk about these designs with extra enthusiasm because i do love & admire so many different aspects of them.

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 Perfection of Imperfection

yesterday i wore my celia shirt. i haven’t worn it in awhile and because i love it so much, i wondered why. certain pieces are so beautiful to me that i tend to treat them like treasure. this is one of those pieces. the first time i wore the celia shirt, i pulled off that beautiful tie with the three brooches attached and tied it up and wore it as a necklace with the shirt. in fact i have used the necklace with other shirts, too. yesterday i used the tie for the shirt the way it was meant to be worn. sometimes i wear a belt with it, but again it had been awhile. by mid-day i said to myself, “oh, i really do have to have another celia shirt.” 

one of the reasons that a piece of clothing will go into the treasure chest (figuratively speaking) is what i call the perfection of imperfection. in my opinion, the human hand is the true quality of a piece of art. what i mean by that is that when you see the frayed edges — or the parts of the piece of art to wear and what makes it look handmade — they are the parts that you know were not made by a machine but have the permanent embellishment or stamp of the human touch. it may not be obvious because those seams are perfect so it is a little hard to describe. but it is there. they are, for instance, the pleats and folds in the sleeves of the bartholdi shirt. the frayed edges of the duomo jacket and the celia shirt. the sleeves and neckline of the cozette jacket. and the fact that many of the pieces are washed and dyed by hand to give a more vintage quality. all of these very special touches are to me what makes ivey abitz designs art. it is the essence of all art. the human hand, the human touch.

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.

More Everyday Experiences in the Camilla Shirt

I have now worn the Camilla Shirt on many, many occasions. I wore it to the local Opera House for an evening fundraiser. I wore it to a huge brunch for 80 people. I wore it to a large cocktail party of 50 people. I’ve worn it to town, to church, and to dinner. I have catalogued many different comments and responses. I can usually count on the shirt getting noticed, so retiring, wallflower, introvert types should be forewarned. Although I have some social anxiety, I am an extrovert, so I like it. 

I wore the Camilla Shirt to a fundraiser at the Opera House. A friend’s sister exclaimed over and over how “gorgeous” the shirt was. I thanked her over and over and, as usual, shared with her the story of Ivey Abitz, the design elements, the antique buttons, etc. Then she asked how much the shirt was. Her face froze. She exclaimed, “Then it’s even more gorgeous.”

Camilla Shirt – The Everywoman Shirt

The Camilla Shirt is a wonder. Every woman should have one. It’s an Everywoman Shirt. As I have said before, slipping it over my head creates a change. On the outside, I look slimmer because of the long lines of the front of the shirt. My neck visually lengthens because of the tall collar. I don’t know if I am like other women, but a longer neck seems to improve my entire appearance. Next, the ties. When I tie the ties gently in back, it gives me a slightly curved shape. If I am feeling too curvy for my own good, I loosen the ties, let the material fall loosely, and I feel more comfortable. The other thing I notice is that I like the side view of myself in the Camilla. I usually do not like this view of myself at all. My posture is rounding and I always look a little fat or…just unappealing. But in this lovely shirt, it is different. I look nice! The lines are beautiful. The material poufs out a bit and then gently tucks in under the ties at the waist which gives some interest and shape to side view. At first I thought it was an optical illusion but now I know it is intentional, smart design for women.

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.