Keeping You In Stitches: Creating A Total Look

Sally Cowan and her cat Thunder

Sally Cowan and her cat Thunder



So just what is meant by the “total look?”

Ellen Tracy and Linda Allard represent the philosophy of the “total look.” When designing a season’s line, Allard starts with great pieces and puts them together like a puzzle. You can plan your wardrobe like that, too. Starting with a jacket, choose pants that have the right leg width to go with the cut and length of the jacket. Change the mood with a flippy skirt or a tailored skirt, play with the idea of the new drapy shorts, or wear the jacket with a dress. Many patterns offer many views within one pattern envelope, and you, too, can develop many ensembles by using multiple Ellen Tracy patterns. Because of the price of patterns these days, this is a good thing.

The Ellen Tracy wardrobe is a beautiful balance between tailored and feminine. Menswear fabrics such as wool gabardine, pinstripes and tweed suitings are mixed with silk suede, crepe de Chine and georgettes. Color combinations are unusual; for example, oregano with plum. Allard keeps swatches on hand and, at the beginning of each season, plays with new combinations of textures, colors and fabrics. Classic garments can be personalized by the addition of the right shoes, scarves and belts.

Allard says there are a few key pieces in any wardrobe—a black turtleneck sweater, a white shirt, a pair of trousers, and two good jackets, one in black or your favorite neutral and the other in your best color. From this core, you start the building process, adding pieces each season and changing color combinations from time to time.

Ah, the jacket. My favorite piece in my wardrobe. The jacket is a pivotal wardrobe piece and one that is essential for business women. As an important “power piece,” it must have longevity and may be the costliest fashion investment in a wardrobe. Ellen Tracy jackets make a woman feel good about how she looks.

At sewing conventions I got to know Donna Salyers. She is the only one I’ve met who can make a jacket better than any store bought jacket. If you ever get a chance to take a class from her, do it. Just like the ad says, “Just Do It.”


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