Story N˚18: A Dress in 3 Acts

Act 1:  2008. Woman in her mid thirties visits NYC with her husband. She enters a bohemian boutique in Manhattan and finds a subtle, well-draped dress in a watery Japanese print.  It’s on the sale rack, so it’s worth a try in the fitting room.  A little snug through the shoulders, but it’s so different, so beautifully grey and blue, and affordably priced.  She takes it back to Florida where it gets compliments and stains in the armpits because of the heat, and the fact that it’s snug through the shoulders.


Act 2:  2010, Florida. Woman wears the beautiful dress to her estranged husband’s BFA  show at the university they both attend.  She wants to look good.  Her hair hangs long down her back. She puts on orange peep-toe platforms to create some pop with the grey tones of the dress.  She is feeling confident and happy.  Her husband really wants her to be there, so he said.  All of their friends, her in-laws and classmates are there to support him in his exhibition, including a professor they both took classes with.  The professor looks very dressed up in make up, an open-back dress and heels. Her hair is also hanging long down her back.  The Woman notices the professor looks nervous. 

Act 3:  2012, New York City, a rented room.  It is only a few months since her divorce. The Woman found out that the professor and her husband were sleeping together.  The Woman found out that she and her husband want different things in life.  She is feeling lonely and sorry for herself, and decides to go out.  She puts on that grey dress and a little make up.  She runs her hand over her head that is now a cropped lawn of hair.  She shaved her head in mourning after the divorce, and as a way to start anew.  The Woman goes to an open gallery night in the Lower East Side.  She looks at art and boutique goods; she sees beautiful things.  She sees people struggling on the streets.  She eats a slice of pizza and watches people go by.  She knows she has it good; she goes home contented and ready for her new life alone…



Story N˚17: Sweater Weather

…Which officially began a few months ago in these climes, has been eluding us.  Even today in Manhattan, I saw a teenager in shorts and flip flops as I marched by in tall boots, sweater, scarf and raincoat.  Despite being dressed for the rainy grey day, I wouldn’t call it cold or even chilly.  My sweaters are ready to go, but on many days they feel too heavy and uncomfortably warm.  Here’s hoping temperatures will drop, so I can bundle up properly.


My sweater stack is a tidy group of mostly shopped pieces. As a Floridian, I wasn’t in the habit of acquiring sweaters.  Since moving to New York, I’m happy to boast a few Indigenous cotton sweaters ethically made in Peru and a charcoal grey alpaca sweater by Zady that I’m getting a lot of mileage out of.  But the sweater that has the most history with me is a hand-knitted pumpkin spice sweater that keeps me cozy warm.  It came into my life in 2005 on a return trip to Argentina.  As I’ve mentioned before, Argentina is a great place for yarns and knitting.  My friend, Silvia, was working away on this sweater.  She said it was for herself but when finished, she realized that it was way too big for her small figure and gave it to me as a gift.  I thought it was too big for me as well, but didn’t want to refuse it.  I made room in my suitcase somehow- this thing is really bulky!  And it lived in clothes storage for many years before I moved North.  I think the oversized slouchiness really works now, although the color isn’t my favorite and I prefer natural fibers.  On the coldest days, this sweater has found itself stuffed inside my down fill coat. A tight fit, but no complaint of chill.  And I can always use a scarf to offset the color.  This sweater has become a lounge staple.  Best of all, I love that it is handmade by a friend…




Story N˚ 16: This is Scary!

The fur industry is scary.  I’m not talking about fur used by indigenous peoples for warmth; I’m talking about fur for fashion.  Apparently, there is no way to do this humanely.  I was looking at a few anti-fur/animal rights sites for just a moment and I am sick to my stomach.  A few years ago, I got through the documentary, Earthlings (trailer link), but not without crying my eyes out.  I haven’t been the same since.  Fashion is just one of the ways we abuse animals, but the fur industry is unconscionable.  Here is an article that gives information on “ethical fur“, but I don’t know how animals bred in cages just for their pelts can be truly ethical.  I will have to do more research on the topic…

In the meantime, I am in favor of using what is already in existence.  There is a lot of fur already in circulation.  There are many opinions on the subject of fur, but I value the tradition of passing on clothing.   I received a Persian lamb swing coat that my great Aunt Norma had made for her in the 1950’s.  It’s a lovely piece in my vintage collection and so well crafted.

I added some Halloween flair, Miss Havisham style.

My story of this coat:  I was working at that suburban fabric store that wiped out all other fashion fabric stores in my area in the 90’s, and continues to dominates home sewing commerce.  I was in charge of restocking fabrics and so I often got to help customers with their ideas and projects as I worked the floor.  Around December, a woman wanted to make a dressy coat for a company party.  We looked at patterns, fabrics and talked styles.  As she described the coat she wanted, my swing coat came to mind.  I was shy about offering it, because she would have thought me crazy to lend my coat to a stranger.  But the idea kept surfacing, so I finally said that she was describing a coat I have in my closet, and she was welcome to wear it to the party.  She jumped at the offer!  She wasn’t a seamstress and couldn’t afford to buy something fancy.  I brought her the coat- she loved it, wore it to the party and then returned it with a small gift.  It was one of the best clothing exchanges I have experienced.

Fine stitch work, beautiful label…
My great aunt’s initials, I love the personal touch

Story N˚15: Yellow September


A few years ago, I worked at a boutique that carries ethical fashion. The owner said she had to often avoid buying yellow colors when selecting styles. Even if the clothes looked really good, she had trouble selling them. Perhaps many women don’t think they look good in yellow.

I don’t know if I look good in yellow, but I enjoy wearing it. I also notice that yellow really catches my eye when I see someone else wearing it. It’s brave to wear such a bold, attractive color. The yellow may be ochre or soft; I still think it’s bold and beautiful to wear.

This time of year is a yellow color for me- this transition from summer to autumn. The light has softened from bright white to yellow. The tree-top greens become yellowed, then golden. Some of the first leaves to change are bright yellow. The tulip tree and silver linden. (I notice that Spring happens the same way: one of the first colors to pop is yellow- forsythia, daffodils, etc.)

I like to pull out a certain outfit around this time of year. A pale ochre dress I bought at the above mentioned shop. It was designed and made here in NYC by two artists who created a line (recently put to rest) called Feral Childe. I love everything they designed, because each piece spoke to the dreamer in me. I pair this dress with an Afghani cotton scarf I got from a friend who was stationed there in the military. I think the patterns look so good together.

I hope you’ll look for and enjoy all the yellow…

Feral Childe dress from 2013 with Afghani cotton scarf

Story N˚ 14: In Memoriam

I realize this Memorial Day weekend, as I think of my loved ones who have passed on, that I keep articles of clothing in memoriam. It’s something I have done unconsciously, until now.  Here are a few pieces I cherish.

After my father died, I kept an old blue T-shirt he wore in softball games with his coworkers. My dad was always athletic:  football in high school; baseball and basketball. He taught us how to swim, and loved to go running.

This T-shirt has a faded number 8 on the back, chosen for the number of children he has. I used to wear it to run in, but I want to preserve it. Now, I wear it around the house when I need some familiar comfort.  It’s wonderfully soft from use.

My Grandpa O began his life on a potato farm in Idaho; he’s my mom’s dad. He was a natural at growing things, and remained an avid gardener throughout his life. Whenever he came to visit us in Florida, he would be fixing up our neglected garden, and setting up the compost pile by the fence with dried leaves on top.  The compost bin would appear by the sink, and we’d return to the practice of tossing in peels and organic waste.  I mostly remember him outdoors, staying busy.

Grandpa O had a light grey Champion sweatshirt that was passed on to me by my grandmother after he died. I also wear it to go running. Now, it has a small hole near the cuff burned by a camp fire cinder.

One year, I went with my mom and siblings to Yellowstone for the first time. It was late May, so we Floridians thought it was practically summer, and therefore warm outside. We realized our thinking error as we drove past snow banks taller than the car. My brother, Dan, didn’t even bring a coat, so I lent him Grandpa O’s sweatshirt. Luckily, Dan knew how to build us a fire.  The evidence of this adventure is seared in the sleeve.
This sweatshirt reminds me of my grandpa working in the yard, and of a snowy May vacation with my family every time I wear it. It’s a great piece for wearing out of doors.

Now that I’m aware of my practice of keeping clothing, I have plenty more stories for Memorial Day.  I have so many loved ones who have passed on, and I love to remember them this way- through the clothing that touched their skin, through the pieces they lived life in.

Story N˚ 13: My MANIFESTO

‘As a clothes maker and textile artist, I commit to living and applying practices that take into consideration the well-being of my community, both local and global, as well as my planet.  I believe that what I choose to consume has an impact on many levels, and that this impact matters. 

I care about the people and families who are working in all areas of manufacturing; I care about the resources and beauty of my planet.   I believe that there are choices I can make that lessen environmental damage, and that can improve economic conditions around the world, such as using sustainable, natural textiles and reclaiming existing clothing and textiles.  Recycling, reusing items, reducing my consumption, choosing ethically produced fashion and products that are made to last:  these are and should be a given in our society at this point.  I commit to implementing these practices, to being conscientious about with whom and for whom I choose to work, and to educating others through word, action and product.  

To borrow a saying, “beauty is as beauty does”.  In fashion, and in my life, beauty matters:  what I say, do, choose, consume, create, matters!’


I wrote the first draft of this in February 2013 while taking an ethical fashion course at FIT.  I consider it to be a fluid statement that continues to evolve throughout my journey.    Since moving to NYC, I have added ethically produced fashion to my wardrobe, as well as thrift finds that I have upcycled.

Case in point:  Today I am wearing a skirt I made from an oversized dress I found at Beacons Closet.  It’s kind of perfect for St Patrick’s Day.  I wish I could tote around the Irish daffodils as well…


Story N˚ 12: A Dress for Valentine’s Day


Today’s dress comes from my fabric stash, rather than my closet.  I have yards of fabric that I’ve collected over the years.  Every time I went into a fabric store (which was often),  I would leave with something in hand and an idea of what to make with it.  Almost always, it would go on the “some-day project” pile, which gradually became the fabric stash.  I got so good at this, that I eventually organized my fabrics by season or craft.  So, I have a box for fall/winter designs, a box for spring/summer designs, and a few boxes for craft ideas and scraps.  The scraps box is the most prolific.  I’m careful not to keep adding to my fabric stash, but I have a very hard time throwing away scrap fabric. I will use it one day, I tell myself…

I decided to make a Valentine’s Day dress to celebrate today, and to challenge myself to design and use up my fabric stash. Even though I am single and not dating, I still love Valentine’s Day.  I enjoy the treats and love wishes that are shared.  And luckily, V Day fell on Sunday, so I had all of Saturday to create this. 

Design, pattern and finished dress by Yours Truly with love!