When I met Caroline Gick several years ago she was a Library Manager for the Contra Costa County Library and I immediately thought, This is one fashionable librarian. Dressed in a tailored suit and a classic pair of pumps, she stood out a mile and I knew there must more to this woman than books. Turns out I was right. Caroline is a bodybuilder, a fashion stylist, and now a fashion designer. She’s recently left the field of librarianship to start her own clothing line.
Why did you leave books for clothes?
Leaving the library was a difficult decision and I played with the idea for a long time. The clothing line I am creating solves a problem for so many women and I realized that this is my shot. I have an idea, I had taken enough steps to be invested, and I’m 43 and not getting younger. It’s now or never.
What is it about fashion that you are drawn to?
How I dress has been important to me since I was a little girl. For me, fashion has always been a way to show the world who I think I am on any given day. This is the beauty and the draw of clothes and fashion. It isn’t static, it’s individual, and while there may be trends, there really are no rules. I can be super sleek, minimalist woman on Monday and vintage girl on Tuesday. I use clothes as an outward expression of my inner landscape, how I feel on any given day.
In what way does being a bodybuilder influence your style?
Since I changed the shape of my body through bodybuilding, I find I have far fewer options when it comes to my wardrobe. I can’t afford to get everything I buy tailored so I tend to dress more casually on a daily basis. And I love to dress up, so this makes me very sad. I also had to consign most of the vintage dresses I loved because I can no longer wear them. While the small waists and full skirts of many of them work, the bodices are too small and I couldn’t get most of them over my shoulders and my wide back. It’s super frustrating. I may look good in my leggings and pullover top or sweater but it’s not what I really want to be wearing and there is a disconnect that I can feel, which then translates to how I carry myself, my confidence, and my attitude, which in turn affects how I relate to the world.
As a stylist, what is the first step you take with a new client?
I run the website, www.afitsenseofstyle.com, which I call a “lighthearted, practical guide to being fit and stylish at the same time.” On A Fit Sense of Style, I guide my readers toward styles and trends that work best on athletic physiques and give tips and tricks for manipulating the styles that are available in stores to better fit their figure. For example, a recent post gave an overview of some of the trends I saw on the runways at New York Fashion Week (no, not in person, unfortunately – maybe next year) that would work well – wide leg trousers and culottes, belted sweaters and jackets, layered knits.
How do you think fashion is different for athletic women?
The biggest challenge for athletic women is that there are no clothing lines that cater directly to those of us with a more athletic physique – broad shoulders, muscular arms, small waist, thick legs, big booty. So we have to make do with what is out there and, trust me, that doesn’t always work. We want to be able to wear the same fashions, but because things aren’t cut to our proportions, finding even a classic button down blouse to wear is nearly impossible. I have to buy a large or extra-large blouse to fit my shoulders and then have the waist and arms tailored. Anything that fits my torso makes me look and feel like a linebacker when I try to force my arms into it. As a default, many athletic women opt for more casual pullovers, nice t-shirts, leggings, and workout wear to dress at all times of the day. It may be more comfortable, but it’s not always appropriate and doesn’t fit the occasion, or your mood.
Please tell us about your upcoming line of clothing.
QuarterTurn Clothing™ will offer business professional and business casual wear for the athletic woman – “real” clothes for fit women. The plan is to start with foundation pieces – a classic blouse, pencil skirt, tailored trousers, jacket – and expand from there to include dresses, casual wear, and perhaps even denim. I’m starting with a flagship product, a blouse, and growing from there based on customer needs and feedback and resources. I don’t want to wait until I have the resources to develop an entire line and then push it out. I want to create a community-oriented online experience for my customers where they can share their experiences and stories, give feedback about products and what they would like to see. QuarterTurn Clothing™ is about celebrating health and fitness, encouraging women to celebrate their strength, and promoting the idea that being strong is beautiful and feminine.
What are some of the challenges of designing for active women?
The biggest challenge is getting the proportions right. As we were going through the first pattern creation for the blouse, my designer was surprised at just how much we had to keep taking in the waist and she had to find creative ways to do so without disrupting the other lines of the blouse or the overall styling of the garment. She enjoyed the challenge, and I hope she continues to, as we move into creating patterns for trousers and skirts and other items!
How would you describe your own style?
I always struggle with this question because it really depends on the day. I love to blend the masculine and feminine and you’ll often find me in dress paired with men’s oxfords. I used to wear a lot of vintage 40s and 50s, but I now go more for a swing dress or wrap dress (wrap dresses are the best dress option for athletic women!). I like classic, clean lines when it comes to trousers, also leaning toward a menswear look, and do the minimalist, black trousers, black fitted top look often or, when I’m being more casual, trousers and a fun baseball t-shirt and Converse sneakers. I also have a terrible weakness for animal prints. See – a little all over the place!
What book are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading I Always Loved You: A Novel by Robin Oliveira, a fictionalized account of the relationship between the artists Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. (Once upon a time, before all that I’m doing now, I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Art History.)
Thank you, Caroline. I give you the award for Best Dressed Former Librarian.