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Dec 9, 2011

Suit Pants Day 5 - I blame Claudine!

Readers, I am this close to having my suit pants completed -- in fact, I totally expected to finish them yesterday.  I had my new charcoal gray commercial waistbanding from Steinlauf & Stoller (a steal at just $1.80 per yard) and a new can-do attitude.

But fate intervened in the form of an email from master sewer and blogger Claudine of Adventures in Couture.  I've been lurking on Claudine's blog for nearly two years now, observing her stunning couture-inspired creations -- not to mention the square footage of her house -- with not a little envy.  I had met Claudine once before, on MPB Day last August, so naturally I count her among my closest friends.  I even know her last name.

Claudine relaxes at home.

Therefore, when Claudine invited me to join her for a little upscale fabric shopping and a visit to the latest FIT exhibit, The Great Designers, Part One, I dropped everything, threw on a relatively clean shirt, and hightailed it to B&J Fabrics, where we met in the late morning.  Highly organized and productive Claudine had already been to see the Christmas windows at Bergdorf's and done a little holiday shopping at Saks (where she picked up a lovely gift for herself -- I'll let Claudine tell you about that -- although, alas, nothing for me).  At B&J, Claudine was in search of English woolens, no doubt to make another impeccably tailored jacket like the beautiful original she was wearing yesterday, a tweed boucle that you can read more about here.

I think Claudine was a little taken aback by my New York brashness, but nevertheless complied with my request that she remove her jacket so I could examine the handstitched silk lining; I discovered that Claudine's natural state of sang froid isn't easily disturbed.  I'm not sure she'll be wanting to fabric shop with me again, though, as I revealed my tendency to loudly exclaim Eighty-five dollars a yard for THIS!? every three minutes.  I'm a bargain basement shopper, friends.  Not so Claudine.  

We grabbed lunch at Pret A Manger on Broadway, which despite offering considerable seating, was completely full.  Pas de problème: imperturbable Claudine suggested we sit outside in the pedestrian mall.  Friends, it had to be forty degrees out and it was windy yesterday, albeit sunny.  My instinct would have been to stand uncomfortably close to a table of tourists and loudly sigh and roll my eyes, thus making them so uncomfortable that they packed up their sandwich ends and headed out the door -- I'm confrontational.  (Just ask demure Debi, who on a big blogger meetup a few months ago, when I was criticized by some impatient loon on the Dean & Deluca line for excessive chatting at the food counter, witnessed me release such a series of expletives in return that she shrank to palm-size.)  But that's how we roll here in NYC.  Anyway, Claudine and I did eat outside, me with blue lips and chattering teeth, and elegant Claudine sitting hatless, a few stray wisps of hair blowing in the wind, relaxed and happy.  Maybe I need to eat more protein.

Next we hit the Fashion Institute of Technology, whose museum exhibits are free to the public and always breathtaking.  The Daphne Guinness exhibit is still on display, of course; this new exhibit is in their somewhat smaller street-level gallery space, but it's marvelous.  Designers are presented in alphabetical order and all the biggies are represented, from Armani to Zoran.  What a privilege to tour this exhibit with someone like Claudine, who can look at, say, a Prada dress, and say (I paraphrase) Ah yes, the 2008 collection -- the one that turned me on to guipure lace, without sounding the least bit pretentious.  This woman knows her designer fashion, and after an hour with her, you start to feel like a true fashionista, although most of my comments were still of the Isn't that pretty! variety.

You can read the NY Times review of The Great Designers, Part One here.  Even if you can't see this exhibit with a couture maven like Claudine, please go see this wonderful show.  It's open now through May 8, 2012.

Meanwhile, back in Pants-landia, newly inspired by Claudine's masterful attention to detail, I started attaching my waistband yesterday evening.  Of course nothing went as planned and I had to rip out the same seam twice, but I have much higher hopes for today, readers.  I am committed to finishing these today, in fact, even if it means adding an elastic waistband, which is so very un-Claudine-like.

I'm deciding between a double hook-and-eye (or tailor's belt fastener) on the waistband extension, or a hook-and-eye with button, the disadvantage of the latter being that I'd have to make a buttonhole in my all-but-finished pants, with all the concomitant risks.   Hey, there's always velcro.

Friends, I hope you're having a fruitful week.  Please don't let the Claudines of the world sabotage your productivity, as I did.  They wouldn't let us do that to them, you can be sure!

I leave you with an additional wig-shot, as they proved so popular on yesterday's post.  (Who knew there were so many Bea Arthur fans out there? )  Who's the actress and in which movie did she sport this shaggy hairdo?

Happy Friday, everybody!


  1. WOW! I am honored to be so flatteringly profiled in your blog! I will be walking on air all day.

    Our day together was so much fun yesterday! It's great to talk about clothes with someone who understands.

    The trousers are looking great.

  2. I adore Claudine and wish she'd come out west for a visit. I've even offered to chauffeur her to various locales. Thanks so much for sharing your outing with her, you lucky thing!

  3. LOL, I LOVE your "Portrait of Claudine".
    I fawn over her, too:)
    Peter, you are such a doll.

  4. That's the wonderful Doris Day! I can't decide if the still is from Lover Come Back or the Grass is Greener (or one of the other Rock/Doris films I've watched dozens of times).

  5. The pants are looking lovely so far! I don't know if you or your readers are interested, but I just read over on Fashion Incubator that there will be a wholesale fabric show in NYC at the beginning of February with low minimums especially for independent designers. Anyone can register to go, even if you're not in the manufacturing business. I wish I could go too. More information here:

  6. Have to say that yesterday's wig #2 reminded me of Adrienne Barbeau. Is there always a trace of Bea Arthur in everything you do?

    As for "the wig of the day", I'm guessing Doris Day in "Lover Come Back". There's something about her hair that says Tony Randall is in the equation.

    Your pants look great. The commercial waistband is not only attractive, but true to your form, modestly priced elegance.

    Between your street finds and sidewalk sale sniping, you appear to have been born with the ability to find or attract the best that life has to offer for little or no money down.

  7. I'm right there with you on expensive fabric. I say that for RTW, too.

    I'd say make the buttonhole. Two hooks-and-bars aren't as stable as a hook-and-bar and button. Plus it looks snazzy ;)

  8. lol. This post was really funny...I can totally picture you saying 'this is $85 a yard????? hehehehe. that would be me too.......I'm off to check out Claudine's blog.

  9. Doris Day!! i don't know which film, but my, isn't she lovely?! and that wig is a great look on you to!!

  10. I think Doris was wearing a wig too. Hmmm?

  11. I still envy the very fact that you *can* bargain basement fabric shop where you live. When I was a kid, you could still do that in the Atlanta area, because we had fabric mills that are now, unfortunately, a thing of the past!

  12. I love coming on your blog, because you constantly amaze me with your talent and your comedic writing :) I love the tid bit about you being confrontational to the diners etc, because that is SO me! We would have a blast together. I once made a sampler at Whole Foods tear up! She was double dipping in the salad area, and something just HAD to be said!!!

    Anyway, I'm so excited to see your finished suit!! I'm sure it will be amazing!!!!

  13. When I come to NYC, it will be interesting to see if, after 22 years in FL, I can still muster up the NYer stare of doom (not on you, of course).

    Your pants are coming along wonderfully. I've been keeping up with your progress but from the peanut gallery this week.


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