Discovering Ivey Abitz

Words, like clothing, can mean so much and so little at the same time. I have no desire to be fashionable but i like to know what’s in fashion. I would never describe myself as stylish but i have a certain style. The word eclectic comes to mind. i like that word.

I first found Ivey Abitz while doing a search online. I am also pretty sure it took about an hour on a Tuesday afternoon whilst at work. Some people have cigarette breaks – I go shopping. A lot. My point is that with all of the different designers I like to wear I was able to add another to my list. I like that Ivey Abitz designs fit in with everything I have without looking like anything I have.

I also like that my long suffering husband can’t figure out what is new and what isn’t. Trust me, it takes years of steady practice to keep a straight face and assure my dearest that yes indeed he has seen the dress before. In fact, I wore it to that dinner. You remember, don’t you? I don’t know why I bother to look nice if you don’t pay attention. Never mind. Where are the twins? It’s too quiet…Distraction is a key element in my marriage.

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.

Staying Cool in the Florida Heat – in Ivey Abitz

it is getting to be that time of year in florida that i dread. 

i know this makes no sense at all except maybe to someone who has grown up and lived in this state year in and year out, because it is quite beautiful at the moment. the sun is out and the air is coolish, or at least it isn’t humid yet. the orange blossoms are blooming as are all the citrus trees. so is the jasmine. so why do i dread this time of year? 

because i know in a month it’s going to get hot.  then it will be scorching. then….right around july and august, just when you think it can’t get any hotter – and this gets me every year – it does get just that much hotter. yes, you can fry an egg on the sidewalk. you could burn one on the highway, if there wasn’t so much traffic on u.s. 19, a major highway thru this state. it’s like a highway going right down the middle of shopping centers and strip malls for hundreds of miles. 

so what does this have to do with clothes and design, you might ask? 

you will see quite an array of hot weather fashion here. from polyester with elastic waist pants to loud flower print moo moo’s. i could go on, but you get the picture. i remember the days of straw handbags with shells stuck to them, or woven wood purses with decoupage city scapes painted on them. eek. in some ways, though, i must say i do get a bit nostalgic for the kitschy 50’s and 60’s florida style. even the 40’s. i wasn’t around for most of those decades (maybe one), but it survived here for a long time. i mean, who doesn’t miss the alligator ashtrays and pink flamingo drinking glasses? now it’s just sad, in my opinion. overbuilt, cheap sadness. i even miss the neon and the dinosaurs.  i digress. 

the point about clothing? 

well, it is also the time of year that i start thinking about what i can possibly wear to stay cool enough that i don’t pass out when i walk out of my house (the heat sometimes literally takes my breath away – it’s like walking into a furnace) but stylish enough that i can still live with myself. this is where Ivey Abitz comes in. sometimes it is difficult to plan a wardrobe under these hot conditions, but not with Ivey Abitz. the process is simple. i know that i will get a fabric book and a look book (i have a special place for all of mine) and the website with all of the new ensembles and separates. 

believe it or not, i can wear (with a heat absorbing tank) the ivey abitz silk spun taffeta in floridian heat. i can wear a bartholdi overlay like a top with nothing underneath-except the tank, otherwise it may be a bit x-rated for me.  back in the day a bathing suit top would have worked….oh to be young again (ewwww i sound like my grandmother-yikes!). but even if 40’s are the new 30’s (that’s plural because i’m over 40) i still can’t bring myself to do it. i never thought it would happen to me (i don’t think anyone ever sees this coming), but it did.  i hate to admit it but there are things that i think might be too young for me. 

god forbid that my father-in-law, who is english, calls me or even thinksmutton dressed as lamb,” in regard to me. it doesn’t really matter because i can’t think of a design in the pack that would make me feel that way (minus the bartholdi overlay w/out a tank under it). Ivey Abitz designs are ageless. 

i can dress (or loan for a very short time) my 15 year old niece (in) something of mine that i would wear and we would both look good. they are neither too old or too young….ageless.  i love it. i like to think of myself that way so there you go. again, i’m off the subject.  i was writing about fabrics and the heat…..so…..let me get back to it.  i am sure everyone reading this knows that natural fabrics are best. they breathe in the heat and are warm in the cold weather.  they look…well, natural.  it doesn’t matter what synthetics are invented – and there even are some good new ones – natural fabrics have that certain quality that is classic in every way. 

in this floridian heat, i can and have worn linen hemstitch jacquard, a silk linen doubleweave, and the ribbed silk linen – all from 2007’s autum 2 collection.  at that time of year, florida is still quite warm, but i can wear them in comfort. i can wear any linen because they are light enough for summer. when it does (finally) get a little cold here, i can layer linen with any of the fabrics – i look for texture because i don’t have to really worry about “warmth fabrics,” they are perfect for our climate in winter.  i do wish i could wear the Ivey Abitz velvets and the wools here, but i can’t remember a winter in recent history where i could wear those fabrics more than once. maybe next year, if they are offered. on the other hand, there is so much in fabric to choose from that i can’t see not being able to find something to work in any climate, in any season, for myself.

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.

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…