Story N˚ 21: The End of an Era

My first “puffy” coat-

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Not fashionable, but functional!
  • was purchased for $35 at Monk’s in Williamsburg around the time it was getting too cold to put off buying my first ever winter coat.
  • was in no way a fashion statement, but allowed me to experience Northern winters in a civilized, rational way.
  • was my shield on long, lonely and very necessary walks through the gloom of Winter 2013.
  • allowed me to enjoy my first snowshoe outing at Mohonk Mountain House (a sparkling day).
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On top of the world at Mohonk
  • cushioned me at the ice skating rink.
  • paired well with woolen sweaters and a down vest for extra cold days (not cause it looked great, but it did the warmth trick).
  • became a sort of blanket for my Christmas Day beach visits (yes, this Floridian goes to the beach every Christmas Day possible, and a coat like this makes it possible).
  • also made it possible to bike through a few winters (not sure what I was trying to prove).
  • five NYC winters later, will be fondly and appreciatively remembered.
  • the next winter coat, TBD
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The final resting place for my puffy coat

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.

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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…

-Emily

Story N˚15: Yellow September

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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…

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Feral Childe dress from 2013 with Afghani cotton scarf

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…

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

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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!

Story N˚ 11: Winter Blues

I don’t have the winter blues, thank goodness.  Rather, I love the color Blue, and have come to love Winter in the north (it took me about 3 winters to be able to say so).  I imagine January as a blue month:  I see blue shadows on the snow, the pale blue of a cold dawn, or glimpses of brilliant blue sky between bare brown trees and racing clouds.  Not surprisingly, I have a remarkable number of blue clothing and accessories.  Here are my faves that are keeping me warm this winter:

  1. My most recently acquired accessory: this Nepalese handmade wool blanket scarf was given to me by a sweet friend who is so encouraging of my clothing design ambitions.  I first wore this to the airport in December.  It is so soft and cozy, and I noticed the vibrant blues turned a lot of heads my way.

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2. Before I moved to NYC, I picked this plaid flannel shirt out of a crowded swap meet pile back in Florida.  I had a lovely group of herbalist/permaculturist friends at the time who did things like swap clothes, and share food and music on the front porch.  I was able to find my path and begin my journey on it, thanks to their influence.  This shirt is one I like to wear to draw in; a studio shirt, if you will.  I did have it on once when helping a short-term boyfriend paint his apartment.  There are still paint smudges on the front pocket to mark that event.  I need to do more drawings and make more memories in this shirt.

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3. For my birthday in 1995 (yeah, 21 birthdays ago), I bought myself these Kickers in Cordoba, Argentina.  They were worn by every adolescent on the street there, and I fell in love with them.  I have worn them off and on throughout the years, and I’m happy to note they are still kicking.  I recently dusted them off and began to wear them again.  On the first outing, the subway car I got onto was full of Argentine men on vacation.  I watched them look at my shoes and whisper to each other.  I tried not to grin, but I felt coy and very cool.  I love these shoes, and find that other people do, too.

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Story N˚ 8: A November Wedding

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My parents got married 45 years ago today.  November 1970:  the Empire waist was still popular from the 60’s, and there were plenty of maxi dresses to counter the mini skirt.  Respectable girls, like my mom, kept their skirts around knee length.  And so, my mother chose an Empire waist dress from an Yves Saint Laurent Vogue pattern for her wedding.  I include photos for those of you who love vintage patterns like I do.

She made a sample dress to test the pattern in a glimmery black polyester crepe.  I’m pretty sure it’s polyester, because it is still in perfect shape. My mom remembers going out dancing in this sample dress and feeling madly in love.

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I still have this crepe dress in my vintage collection, and wore it in my college days. We would go to “best dress” parties, and this was the perfect outfit for those occasions.  (Note the respectable length is the shortest hem of the bunch.)

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My sister, Cate, wore my mom’s dress when she got married. Fortunately, my mom has held on to her gown to this day. (I can’t say the same for my own wedding dress, or my marriage for that matter.)  And although my deceased father isn’t here to share this anniversary, I have no doubts they still love each other.

Here’s to lasting love and dresses that cross generations!