Is There Beauty in Age?

Yes, the image of Martha Stewart is disturbing. And after reading everyone's reaction to these two pictures side by side, I get the the disturbed reaction to Martha's and not Apo's image. Martha, in her 80s, looks decades younger, and when placed side by side with candid media shots, she has been misrepresented. The media outrage has to do with the notion of beauty. There is beauty in age. It is not reserved for the young only. Seeing the beauty in Apo makes this abundantly clear.


But then again, comparing the two is not particularly fair. Sports Illustrated misrepresented Stewart, yes, but how often does a 106 woman that looks this good grace the cover of Vogue? Stewart had no hope of winning this competition.


Reality checking helps in this discussion. Vogue has been in the business of covering beauty, fashion, and lifestyle for 131 years. Sports Illustrated's first Swimsuit Edition was released 59 years ago, and only features models, celebrities, and athletes. Again, Stewart represented a well known celebrity/model, not a standard of beauty.



Snappy Ol' Gal by Ken Fowkes Photography

My brother Ken Fowkes is an amateur photographer. We have one of his photos, an ancient oak from the Russian Ridge Ancient Oak Forest between our house and the ocean, above our couch in the living room. That room has a 12 foot ceiling, and a huge 4X5 foot window up high that frames an oak tree out front. Ken's photo compliments that view and brings an even more beautiful oak tree into our living space. 


I am smitten with another one of Ken''s photos, his "Snappy Ol' Gal" sunflower. We have a family wedding to attend this August in Massachusetts, sew I decided to create an ensemble with this photo. Now I get to be my version of that snappy ol' gal during the wedding festivities!


This Slow Fashion ensemble promotes SLOW FASHION in a number of ways. One, it's zero waste. The fabric left over from the top will be repurposed into a bathing suit. Two, the hat was created from a couple of linen upholstery samples that were rescued from landfill. And three, I am much more likely to keep this garment for the rest of my life, because it has personal meaning for me.


Keeping fabric and fashion out of landfill is critical in protecting our planet. FAST FASHION, as the planet's 2nd biggest polluting industries in the world today, produces an alarming amount of waste. If any of you can take the reigns of fashion into your own hands, and slow your consumption and waste down, the planet will be better off.


Please consider boycotting fast fashion companies that, while offering you cheap clothing, do so at the expense of child labor, unsustainable hourly wages, and working conditions that are unsafe and unhealthy. The stories of this modern day slavery industry are well documented and easy to find.


You can look even better if you embrace your own style rather than purchasing cheap fashion from a fast fashion company. Cheap fashion today is not only harming our planet, the fact that it is mass produced also means it is not YOU!






The Fabulous Elliott Night!

My favorite Fashion Artist has , up until now, consisted of one artist, Raven Amber, who I have featured in this group a number of times. She is colorfully brilliant, and curates a whimsical bohemian fairy princess vibe with her makeup and clothing.


Now added to this list, who Sandra Gail Taylor tagged as "Assemblage fashion … when textiles, shapes, colors, styles, patterns reunite as long lost friends" is Elliott Night, who specializes in pre-loved clothing. Thrift stores are her outlet for slower fashion AND provide her with plenty of combinations and permutations to impress us with. Frankly, I can't even imagine being able to dress so uniquely using department store or even boutique merchandise.


You can see her creations on her page at, or in the FB Group Iris Barrel Apfel; Who says old broads can't look fab? She also posts in Moody Maximalism: Clothing Edition. I scanned her media outlets and prefer her own page for more of her 'looks'. 


Very different from Amber's style, Night prefers a more tailored and androgynous profile. Amber seems to prefer combining and juxtapositioning colors and pops of colors to accomplish her unique artistic style; Night is a master at putting textures and patterns together. In addition, Amber knows just how to pose for her most flattering figure and facial profile. Night is all about the drama when she models her fashion. In other words, she is a total 'hoot'!


I hope you enjoy Night's ensembles as much as I have!







The Power of Fashion!

FASHION SELLS. It sells magazines, people, movies, products, events, you name it. Fashion is big business.


The bigger the business, the more desirable it is for designers and international jewelry brands to participate. Both have been courting the red carpet crowd for decades. I see Dolce and Cabbana all over the stage in the music industry these day, hoping to capture wealth from the younger generation. 


The co-dependence between celebrity and designer goes two ways. If you are a rising star, sporting designer labels and expensive jewelry only helps you get the eyeballs and following you need to climb further up your ladder. I buy your brand to get more eyeballs; you gift me fashion to exploit my eyeballs.


Because social media has put us all in charge of our own images and followings, and because I would personally prefer to have people 'like' or comment  on a post than no response at all, fashion gives me the boost I need to stand out from the crowd. Take the hat, glasses, and matching bathing suit away in this picture, and replace it with a crew neck t-shirt.  Most people would definitely scroll right past.


To me, posting on social media is the equivalent of going to an event or party. Posting your best self is a matter of self respect. Believe me, you are worth it!! 


The Issue with Bathing Suits

Most women find shopping for bathing suits a horrible experience that brings little to no satisfaction,  The window for selling bathing suits is short, unless you are a resort wear destination brand.  In which case shoppers have to order on-line in order to try them on. And finding styles that flatter is difficult, as modesty requirements vary considerably amongst body types and ages of shoppers. Which also makes ordering on-line risky as any postage back is on your dime.


But there is a solution! Make your own! Bathing suits do not require much fabric, so your chances of finding a fabric that you like in a discarded garment are good.


Most women have mastered the comfort and fit of undergarments; use these undergarments as a pattern guide for your suit. Or make a bottom and cover the bra section of an old bra with the same or complimentary fabric, and leave the hook and eye closures and straps as is. 


For this suit I used a high waistline and suspenders to make it easy to mix and match. A sports bra underneath gives me support, different color t-shirts turn this one suit into many.


The hair band has been cut from the bottom of the t-shirt pictured, and knotted for drama and fit. It's a great accessory as most t-shirts are too long and/or bulky to tuck seamlessly under a stretchy fabric.


Zo Magazine Awards First Place to Slow Fashion Designer

Zo Magazine, an artistic community featuring 'A different kind of universe,' recently held their annual photo contest, this year titled TOUCH OF BLUE EXPO, The selfie photo I submitted won first place in the fashion category!


The suit in this photo was custom designed and sewn, and  features a whimsical visor, also self made. The steampunk sunglasses adds to the comical composition, which inspired the title of the photo, "Resort Wear for the Blue Lagoon". 


Of course my website features Slow (Sustainable) Fashion, as this is my personal focus today, and has been for over a decade, and one that I have practiced most of my life. I don't believe I have purchased a 'new' item of clothing in over eight years, and can boast that my wardrobe features the best fashion I have ever owned.


I would like to think that my entire wardrobe represents 'a different kind of universe', one that has for the most part been designed entirely by me, using discarded fashion and accessories, and fabric samples that would have otherwise gone into landfill. Borrowed from an old jargon in high tech, I am not only 'eating my own dog food', but my different kind of universe means that I am always dressed uniquely as me, and will never look like the rest of the fast fashion shoppers of the world. 


And for that I am extremely proud. 


I want to show the fashionistas of this world that they can practice Slow Fashion AND look stylish. You don't have to know how to sew or design. You can shop sustainably, and buy used. You can also swap with friends and family. 


But most importantly, you can be proud to do your little part in our precious world to limit the unprecedented waste that fast fashion has introduced into our environment.




Spring Blossoms

Ella Falchenko modeling Stella Wen-Chi Shen's live floral hat and D'Arcy Couture attire. Photographer Richard Arbuckle captured this ensemble beautifully!

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Slow Fashion, a Blend of Custom Couture, Home Sewing/Designing, and Thrifting!


Building Talent for Atelier Jolie

Atelier Jolie has the Slow Fashion horse by the reigns. Realizing that the purest form of fashion is art, her vision resonates like a bird song, clear and sweet above the machinery racket created by the Fast Fashion Industry. The power of customization is both simple and yet astounding. We are after all, each and everyone of us, individuals unlike anyone else. Why then shouldn't our clothing have some of these characteristics? Why on earth do people dress like each other? Isn't each day you wake up a miracle of life? Perhaps thinking about how you dress yourself can be a reflection of your own individuality and self worth.


Angelina Jolie wants to build a community of creativity and inspiration to seed this vision. Slow fashion (tailoring, repairing, repurposing, recycling, redesigning, using dead bolt and discarded fabrics) be integrated into this plan. As an evangelist for Slow Fashion, I nominate a very talented designer from Sydney Australia, Tamie Anthas (brand name Digitalkittn) to help her spearhead this effort.


Anthas has most definitely demonstrated innovative and groundbreaking talent. Her commitment to Slow Fashion by using dead bolt fabric, bolt ends, and discarded fabric and clothing in her designs cements her qualifications to participate in this community. 



But more than just wearing the hat of sustainability, and practicing the methodologies and practices of slow fashion design, Tamie brings the vision of an artist to her creations. Her ability to paint a garment with the tailoring features of an existing garment is unprecedented. I commissioned Tamie to make me a vest, with only two requirements: 1) a patten she had to follow for fit, and 2) I wanted the vest in a grey/blue/black colorway. What she delivered was breathtaking.

To bring you the personality behind this astonishing design, I interviewed Tamie Anthas to learn more.


Q) Tell us your earliest dream about becoming a designer, and what the circumstances were that inspired this dream?

A) I was about 9 or 10 years old, watching my mother put makeup on, and wearing, at the time, the latest 80’s fashion trend. My mother knew her fashion, and wore it impeccably. I was enthralled by the attention she received, or maybe more accurately, the power fashion had to attract attention, to demand the admiration of strangers.

Q) Is there a history of creativity in your family, or did you alone carry the torch?

A) Again, my mother is my role model for creativity. She could throw together the most amazing outfits, and she always looked fantastic. She was as good as the best of the world’s accomplished painters, only her art was ‘the art of dress.’ She painted her self with her clothes.

Q) When did you learn to sew, and when did the concern about the environment factor into your design direction?

A) I started practicing sewing at the age of 12, and thankfully I was young and resilient enough to not let the learning curve of sewing (broken needles, skipped stitches, ribbing out seams) disappoint me. It wasn’t until college when I saw“The True Cost”, a documentary by Adrew Morgan, that my design direction took a turn toward protecting the environment. Education is everything, and I don’t believe that anyone can walk away from this film without wanting to see serious change in the fashion industry.

Q) When you need design inspiration, what do you do, or how do you get it?

A) I get inspiration from everywhere, depending on what I am looking for at the time. This includes listening to music (ie Enigma, Deep Forest, Enya), watching movies, going to art shows or exhibits, or even observing what is right in front of me on the street or in a park can be theater.

Q) Would you recommend a fashion design degree for aspiring designers?

A) Absolutely! My education definitely has boosted my  career, by not only teaching me how to work well with others, but also valuable skills and techniques that I depend on in all of my design work. Pattern making is a good example of a specialized skill set that would be difficult to learn on your own.

Q) What advice would you give yourself if you could turn the clock back 10 years?

A) My advice would be to trust myself, to be self-confident and  speak up, and have a voice, especially when it comes to subjects that I strongly believe in. After all, the only way people can learn how to support you, is when they hear you support yourself!

Q) Where do you want to be in the next 10 years?

A) I want to be successful enough to be able to open a design studio with a shop front, participate in Sydney Fashion week every year, and teach awareness of sustainable and eco-friendly design production.


Q) Do you have a vision of how the fashion industry will evolve to achieve more sustainable goals and objectives over the next 10 to 20 years?

A) Well I certainly hope that consumers become more aware of the destructive impact fast fashion has on the environment, and consequently invest less in these clothes. As quoted by one of my favorite designers Vivienne Westwood “Buy less, choose well, make it last”.

Designer Tamie Anthas

Photography @suzmcfaddenphoto


‘Identical Twins’ Model Sustainability with Thrift and Repurposed Fashion Ensembles

Designer Darcy Fowkes dresses identical 'twin' models in the same garments coupled with different tops and accessories  to illustrate how extensible a few core garments can be. In this photo above, Darcy couples a repurposed pashmina scarf with baggy hammer pants (made from damaged linen yardage) as her core ensemble. 


Both outfits are coordinated with different tops, hats, and belts. The outfit on the left picks up the blue in the vest, for a more spring/summer look. This outfit's cloche style hat is trimmed with a thrifted men’s silk tie that also picks up the detailed pattern on the vest.


The outfit on the right supports the brown colorway in the ensemble and a longer sleeved top for a more fall/winter look. Fish leather belts in blue and brown add detail at the waist for final accessory touches.

In this photo both models are wearing home sewn tie-dyed jersey capris coupled with two different tops and headwear. The oversized green linen top on the left is accessorized with a green snood scarf, repurposed from a t-shirt. The thrifted orange tank top on the right is accessorized with a hemp linen cap designed from seasonally discarded upholstery samples. 


Again, the outfit on the left features fall colors and styles, while the one on the right is clearly a summer ensemble, complete with bare feet! Just by adding these two tops and their corresponding head wear to this one pair of pants, these capris can now be worn from summer to fall.

In this photograph Darcy dresses the twins in a pair of repurposed capris cut from a thrifted pair of bell bottoms. Darcy tops the outfit on the left with a gifted, altered top, and a matching cap and neck scarf designed from a piece of scrap lace. The model on the right wears a thrifted tissue jersey cap sleeve top with a coordinated thrifted scarf. Sandals are upcycled/painted with Jacquard Lumiere leather paints.


While both outfits are indeed summer attire, they do not look anything alike. Refreshing one pair of pants/capris with different 'looks' helps us keep our clothing out of landfill. 


All three photographs illustrate how extensible any one item of clothing can be when you style them into different looks. This is an effective tool for updating core garments, keeping your wardrobe fashionable fresh all year long. Bottom line: by thrifting and repurposing, you can use extensibility to practice sustainability. 


Photo Credits: Suz McFadden


Blooms of Summer

At the Pivot Fashion Show at Mark and Anne's Art Party in 2016, the cameras (and audience) loved Ella, our model pictured on the left.  In a crowd of 12 models all wearing beautiful hand crafted hats, one  attendee came running over as she picked Ella out from our crowd of fashionable beauties.  While it is obvious her hat, designed by Stella Shen (, is sensational, it is important that our outfit supported rather than coordinated with this floral creation.


What this boils down to is that the hat takes center stage in this ensemble, and that the outfit supports the head wear rather than competing with it, or for that matter, matching it.  If we had dressed Ella in yellow or green, the outfit would have cheapened, ruined, or tarnished the elegance of the hat. Instead, by dressing our model in the softer hues of the grasses supporting the blooms in the hat, the color pop of the flowers speak for the entire ensemble.


This is a good rule to follow if you do not want to be challenged with coordinating different prints and colors, which is hard to do tastefully.  The term 'color pop' refers to a digital image in which part of an image is shown in color, while the rest of the image featured in grey or a dull monochrome. In fashion, using color sparingly, but dramatically, can often be a key to creating drama without going overboard.


Photographer Richard Arbuckle


Re-purposed Girl's Summer Dress

Children grow out of clothing so fast, it's handy to have some sewing skills to repurpose some of our discarded clothing for them.  This camisole was eight inches larger than the little girl, so all I have to do was reduce the size of the original top through pleating.  Then I shortened the straps and presto!


I have seen adorable dresses made from men's dress shirts for women and little girls (see and The best part of sewing from discarded clothing is keeping it out of landfill!




A Simple Summer Bolero

Edgy, yet conservative, this kind of styling works for all ages, young and old.  And most events, casual to dressy.  In this picture we have featured a black and white design, but imagine the colors and patterns this style garment can support, and the combinations and permutations go as far and wide as the mathematical computations our minds are capable of can go.


Stripes and polka dots, contrasting plaids, primary color contrasts with trims to bring them together, the design palette for creating this garment is unlimited.  And  the garment itself provides a spectacular fashion lift to a simple camisole or tank top.  And the beauty of this style is that it is simple to construct.  No darts, princess seams, or hard-to-fit challenges.  If you want to see what this pattern looks like, PM me and I will send you a picture.


This pin was borrowed from Etsy, but the source was not available, so I do not know who to give credit to for this wonderful photograph. 



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Green Up-Cycled/Embellished Ensemble

The jacket in this upcycle was originally paired with a pencil straight skirt, in the same fabrtic, with a flap hidden slit above the knee. It was a pretty flamboyant suit for a 'consultant' in the career I was building, but a perfect choice for an evening dinner out with a client.  


But that was almost 50 years ago. Before upcycling and re-purposing became popular. The jacket, however, was fantastic, and so the ensemble stayed in my wardrobe long after I wore it for business purposes. I simply LOVED it. Could not seem to part with it.


Sew when I started to upcycle and sell my creations at fashion events/shows and street fairs about 15 years ago, I embellished the jacket and made a new skirt to modernize it. Or should I say, bohemian-ize it! I am happy to say that if found a new owner, and that we were both happy with the new arrangements ;-) 



Making Your Own T-Shirt Pants


You will need two t-shirts that are wider than the circumference of the top of your thy, measured from under arm to underarm, across the width of the t-shirt (see illustration). One will be your pattern, the other your sample garment. In this tutorial, I sometimes refer to seam allowances and sometime do not. For t-shirts, because they do not unravel, you can make your seam very small, but do add a margin for seams on every cut. Also remember that all corners in your patterm should be right angles. So as you are cutting the inseam for example, you will start with a right angle, then curve up to meet a right angle at the crotch line (see illustration)


1) Sit on a hard surface, and measure from the surface to your waistline. This will be the approximate depth of your crotch seams (+ seam allowance and 1/2" for elastic at the waist). Your curve will be shallower in front than back, depending on where you carry weight. If your tummy is larger than your rear, your pattern will reflect the opposite. If your body carries equal weight in front and back, this curve will be similar, you can adjust after you sample is made. Remember tho that when you sit, your rear will pull the pants down in back, and not in front, so for most bodies, the back crotch slope will be longer that the front.
2) Measure from the front neckline down the length of your crotch depth so know where to start the front crotch cut at the sides of the t-shirt. Measure the width of your upper thy so you know how wide you need your pants to be. Fold your t-shirt in half matching sleeves and side seams, and cut an approx front crotch through the 4 layers of fabric (this is to insure the inseams are exactly the same). You will recut the back curve in step 4. 
3) Measure the length of the inseam so you know where they they hit on your leg, and measure your leg at this point so you know what width your hem should be. You can use the sleeves to add length if you want. Your t-shirt is still folded, so divide this width in half and use this measurement to cut from the inseam curve from the bottom of the shirt to the crotch line. Now open up the t-shirt pants so you can cut your waist and back crotch. 


4) Measure waist and divide by 2. Cut the waist of your pants as close to the crew neck, marking waist length + seam allowance (see illustration). I use a ruler to get a straight line from the top of the front crotch to the back crotch. One half of your waist measurement (+ seam allowance) should tell you where to start the back crotch slope cut. I cut this from the top, using a straight angle, and curving to meet the original cut line. 


5) Baste you pattern t-shirt together before cutting you sample garment. With right sides together, sew front and back crotch seams. Then fold front and back crotches right sides together and stitch the length of both leg’s inseams. Try on inside out, so you can pin the adjustments you want to make to the pattern.


For your final garment, cut a piece of elastic for the waistband that is smaller than the waist of the garment (and comfortable around your waist), and zigzag raw edges together into a circle. Mark or pin the elastic in half, then again to get 4 equal quarters. Match your front and back crotch seams to determine pant side seams, and pin. Matching crotch and side seams with elastic points or pins, fold raw waistband over elastic, stretching elastic, and zig zag in place. Hem bottom of pants, or leave raw. Enjoy!