Frock Fashion Hack Denim Redo


Denim.  It’s been an integral part of our wardrobes forever. My first pair was in the 7th grade. We had just moved to the country and up to that point my clothing came from urban department stores. Shopping was great in North Jersey, done with Aunts and cousins and trying on garments in the aisle (“Nobody’s looking, nobody cares” said Mom and the aunts as they swapped items back and forth, while you stood in a Two Guy’s aisle in your panties.)The jeans were something different. There were no department stores nearby our new home, they came from a farm store called Good’s, where you most definitely did not strip in the aisles. Not yet made for girls or ladies, you were forced to purchase in the boys department, not that that mattered on my twelve year old figure. They were dark blue, dyed with real indigo and were capable of standing in a corner by themselves. They had an odd smell, like wet soil.

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Pre-washing a couple of times was necessary or your legs and the furniture you sat on turned blue. To get them really faded and soft like the one’s my hippy Uncle Richie wore, you had to use bleach, bury them for a week and run them over and over with your bike. Being one hundred percent cotton with an all natural dye, this set up a biodegrading deterioration process that led to holes(cool, patches!) and also a few instances of parental disapproval. In the seventies bell bottoms became the thing, and the girls who sewed made a couple of bucks (really, about $2) inserting triangle wedges of upholstery fabric into the legs of the farm-boy jeans to flare them out. Add a few patches, a little hand embroidery, and there you go, great looking, unique home-made fashion. And because we all know how everything comes around and around again, I was not surprised to see pieced, patched, cut, embellished denim at the shows in NYC for fall. Let’s see if we can bring back our inner crafty boho chic, shall we?


Mixed-Media Window at Jan Rae

Mixed media, in visual art, refers to an artwork in the making of which more than one medium has been employed.

When I designed out of a studio at the GoggleWorks, my studio neighbor, Elaine, introduced me to “mixed media” art. She combined several elements in one piece of art, from paint to silk threads to coffee grounds and so on, creating beautiful and intriguing canvases.

On one buying trip for Jan Rae I noticed a trend of “Mixed Media Fashion”, where designers were employing several types of materials in one garment.  Laser cut vegan leather layered over chiffon to

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Mixed Media Jacket by Alberto Makali

make a pretty top, mesh embroidered as if it were lace then edged in denim to make a jacket, even loose vests of printed pieces combined to remind me of a vintage Victorian crazy quilt.

When done well and cohesively, this trend is wearable without being too fussy, and as beautiful as one of Elaine’s paintings.

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  Jan Rae Window

Over It!

 Six more weeks, says the Groundhog. Baloney. If I believed every word that came out of a furry creatures snout I would be convinced I live to fry bacon and give belly rubs. Sadly for my dogs I am smarter than that.
Granted, it is brutally chilly today and I will pull on tights and Doc Martens to trudge to Jan Rae. But once there, the magical UPS man will deliver the promise of Spring in a plain brown box.
Sleeveless, floral and flirty dresses from Adrianna Papell are just in! This dress flatters everyone with it’s V-neck bodice and camouflaging pleats easing up over the bust and down the belly. Navy, a big color for Spring2015, is the ground and the pretty pink floral, well, just makes me happy. Belt it with self tie grosgrain or add your own to create a waist.
If you add a belt then an open blazer, the “H” shape created is instantly slimming. Even if you avoid belts because you don’t like the shape of your middle, try it!

Brand-New Year, Same ‘Ol Me


So it’s been quite the year! Last year at this time I purchased Jan Rae. Even with my background being all over the fashion map, and a built in business manager in the form of a fiance’, it was “fingers crossed” as I took the leap. And what a leap! Clearing out the ancient stock that nobody wanted to wear and replacing it with hip classics that work on my demographic was, admittedly, bliss and joy with sprinkles on top. Learning that not all reps are honest, shocking! Dressing women, helping each individual find that “Love It! Love Me In It!” moment, well, absolutely priceless.

With the support of James, family and West Reading’s business community, my inherited killer work ethic and fab employees, I have managed to maintain my wicked sense of humor and just enough optimism to soldier on. Still the same ‘ol me, just paying a little more attention to getting dressed in the morning. (My GoggleWorks friends will get this.)

There is a bit more tweaking to do to the boutique, and learning the needs of my customers will be an ongoing process, but all in all, feedback (and sales) have all been very positive!

In this blog I will attempt to keep you informed of all the trends I think the Jan Rae customer might try, the Ins and Outs, news about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, fashionhacks to keep you stylish, and much more.

Stay Tuned!


Show me your Perfect Summer Dress!

ImageI am not sure what fuels the imagination of other designers, how they come up with a final design. Do they see a fabric and then muse about a design? Do they sketch a perfect dress and then go in search of the ideal materials? Does an old movie inspire frenzied sketching, autumn leaves, ballet? Who knows?

Although the work I love to do has more to do with someone else’s special day, I do design for myself. My thinner younger self was a more engaging muse, but I can sew pretty efficiently, don’t want to purchase mass produced clothing and can’t go naked. So that leaves me with the job of designing my own wardrobe.

My fuel for inspiration, so to speak, is my life. When I go into my closet in the morning it shouldn’t be about matching and what fits this week. My ensemble should be about how I choose to present myself to the world that day. Am I meeting a new client and need to convey a sure confidence? Am I teaching and need to inspire a love for design and whimsy? Am I hanging out with Grandkids, showing them that my motorcycle boots surely do go with everything? Dressing is about how we want to feel in our clothes, a way to communicate to the world something about ourselves.

My Grandkids have it fairly easy. If Elijah wants to be Superman on any given day, he just puts on a cape. When feeling especially precious,  Lizzy dons a twirly skirt.

So I am sitting here sketching out the pattern for my perfect summer frock. Ideally it will dress up or down, be easy to move around in, layer well and tell the world who I am and what I might be up to that day. It will be the garment that never lets me down or makes me look fat. It will be creative but not silly, stylish but not pretentious, Easy but not mundane. It will not require any special underwear!

If you already possess this magical item or have some ideas, please send a photo or sketch to I would love to see!

Happy Summer!



073I was recently blessed with some alone time. A gift from a 15 year friendship, “Would you like to spend the week in a trendy Brooklyn neighborhood over Christmas and feed the cat?”
I would.
Normally this time of year I would be a Guerilla-style shopping Gigi, online price comparing until midnight, bleary with the disgusting pink of Mattel girls’ toys, or out with the masses, using my “Age before Beauty” credo to excuse running over the weak in order to get the hell out of the store as fast as possible, all the while loading onto my credit card the cost of happiness, perfectly equal piles of gifts for several Beloved Grandchildren.
But because of a severe cutback in hours at Victorian Bridal Salon, due to lack of business, and my preoccupation with the enchanting possibilities handed to me upon entering my fifth decade…
I skipped Christmas. I don’t think anyone even noticed.
I spent a week in solitude, with only a loud “Meow” providing feedback, surrounded by 8.5 million people, counting my blessings, and contemplating my new endeavor.
For decades, (yes, decades) I have been assisting the about-to-be-wed or the about-to-be-involved-in-a-wedding with their attire. I have let-in, let-out, lowered, lifted, modified, enhanced, re-invented and repaired countless dresses. I have custom made and copied, modified for transgendered, little people and pregnancies. I have done it all and loved every minute of it.
As you know, I am beginning a dress line and am devoted to developing a new idea for “dressmaking” based on the “bespoke manner” of past eras. I will be offering timeless silhouettes created from the best of materials, custom fitted to your shape and lifestyle, created with precise and artisanal skill.

Please Save The Date!
March 10, 2013, 1PM to 4PM, Second Sunday at the Goggleworks
A Special Dresses Trunk Show
Ideas for the Bride, Her Party, and the Guests.
Live Modeling, Light Refreshments

“Do You Wanne Be A Polyester Bride?”

Cotton Voile

Consider cotton for your wedding gown.

Although I spend much blissful time here in my studio at the GoggleWorks, twenty-three hours of my week must be spent elsewhere. I have bills and the consistent paychecks from two other sources enable me to pay them in a timely matter, like grown-ups do.

One of my places of employ is a local bridal salon. I do some fittings a couple of days a week and almost all of the sewing on the bridal gowns. Another seamstress does the beading, bless her. You would think after decades of handling these plastic monstrosities I would be numb to them. I am not. The amount of non-bio-degradable material that goes under my needle each week is probably akin to the plastic needed to cover a baseball field. No kidding.
What compels women, smart women who would never be caught dead in nylon panties, women who recycle down to the tampon applicator, place 30 pounds of polyester on her body because she is a bride?
A wedding gown wouldn’t even fit in most recycling containers.
When considering your dream dress, consider the environment and choose wisely. Have your gown whipped up in one of the many eco-friendly and sustainable materials readily available.
Just a thought…