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Maeve from Minnesota

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.

Categories
Maeve from Minnesota

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.