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Posts Tagged ‘clothing’

That’s me sporting my custom-made shirtwaist dress by Theresa LaQuey. Photo: James Young

Throwback Thursday. Originally posted on June 23, 2011.

Last October I had a brilliant idea while strolling Fabric Row in Philadelphia. Why not buy some fabric to take home and have a couple of dresses made? What a perfect memento of my visit to Philly.

So that’s what I did. I perused the family run shop Maxie’s Daughter on South 4th Street and chose two cotton fabrics – one with a violet color print and the other a brown/orange print. I knew I wanted shirtwaist dresses I could wear with sandals in the spring/summer and with tights in the autumn.

The middle-aged salesladies with frosted updos and South Philly accents seemed more serious about the upcoming baseball playoffs than fabric. “We’re gonna beat you,” they teased. “OK,” I said. “I have no problem with that.”  Heck, I was a San Francisco visitor with absolutely no attachment to ballgames, I wasn’t going to argue with Phillies fans.

When I returned home, designer Theresa LaQuey sketched a retro shirtwaist dress with buttons down the front and a knee-length hem (very vintage nurses uniform). A few months later, voila … I had dresses that are well made and fit to a T.

Every time I wear them I think of my visit to Philly and those serious Phillies fans. Now, those are dresses with a story.

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Custom-made coat by Theresa LaQuey.

Ta da … finally I present my fabulous custom-made 1920s inspired coat, constructed and sewn by Oakland designer Theresa LaQuey.

This project started last Christmas when my mother suggested that I have a coat made and use for the trim my vintage stole made of  faux broadtail. Stiff and awkward, I had never used the stole. So I figured what a great new life for a beautiful piece of faux fur.

I knew I wanted a 1920s silhouette and looked at period costume books by John Peacock. I met with Theresa in January and as she specializes in vintage clothing design, she understood what I was going for. The whole project took six months but well worth the wait. Finding the right fabric was a slow process and I made several trips to Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley while Theresa first constructed the coat in muslin. Eventually, I found this lovely wool tweed made in Italy. The black and grey fabric brings out the subtle texture in the broadtail.

Lining fabric in a silk blend.

The coat lining was even more tricky, as I wanted something kind of showy but nothing that would clash with the tweed. Again I headed to Stonemountain and Daughter and found this crescent moon print in a silk blend. Given that the crescent is a favorite motif of mine, I was over the moon (so to speak). The coat has a one button closure for which I chose a carved glass button from Czechoslovakia.

I couldn’t be happier. My coat  fits like a glove and is both elegant and practical. I particularly like the sharp line of  the trim at the neck, which highlights my stacked bob and makes me feel tres chic. Initially for something different, we considered putting the broadtail  just below the elbow rather than at the cuff but I concluded that look would work better on a taller woman.

What I love most about this coat is there isn’t another one like it. It is unique, beautifully made and no brand designer can top it. Now that the autumn chill has arrived, my new acquisition will not remain in the closet waiting for special occasions – it’s going to hit the town.

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That's me and Skylier Blanchard in her West Oakland studio.

It was such a pleasure to spend a recent Saturday afternoon with Skylier Blanchard in her new fashion production studio. Skylier has opened Skylier Wear in West Oakland. 

I learned so much from Skylier that day. I had never stopped to think about how much it takes to produce clothing. Design is just the starting point. Then there are patterns to make; sizing to figure out; testing to be done … and then, marketing. As Skylier says, “Anyone can design, but can you sell? Can you market?” 

Skylier can do it all and she’s doing it. She has been working toward running her own clothing production business for the last twenty years. With an incredible drive and work experience from companies like Lilli Ann and Esprit, Skylier is now well on her way to fashion production stardom.

Click here to read the whole story.

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Tres chic Ines de la Fressange. Photo: Reuters

Former French model and now author Ines de la Fressange is the perfect example of a chic older woman. At 53 she’s recently returned to the catwalk and she’s been nominated Most Stylish Woman in Paris.  Way to go, Ines.

Fashion for women-of-a-certain-age is tricky. One doesn’t want to look like a teenager, but the matronly look middle-aged women tended toward 50 or even 30 years ago, isn’t going to cut it for the boomers.

What’s a women to do? Well, Ines says the French lady has it right:

  • for starters she’s not worried about getting older, she does so gracefully
  • she sticks to the classics and adds trends in accessories
  • she sports the right attitude, which would be one of confidence
  • she keeps fashion fun  

In the 1980s Ines was the CHANEL house model and muse of Karl Lagerfeld. In her book, Parisian Chic: A Style Guide (Flammarion, 2011) Ines shows readers how to build a complete chic look based on seven “brilliant basics.”  

  1. men’s blazer
  2. trench coat
  3. navy blue sweater
  4. tank top
  5. LBD
  6. jeans
  7. leather coat (I don’t agree with this one.)

She suggests not fretting about height and weight, “… everything is a question of proportion and attitude,” Ines recently told BBC Radio Four’s Woman’s Hour. “It’s nice to be tiny, it’s sweet and feminine.” (You said it.)

Vive Ines!

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Mom is stylish while cooking dinner, sporting her usual Oxford shirt and tweed skirt.

Click on the Mom’s Closet tab above for the latest installment – No Frippery in this Family.

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