for harriet



Whenever it’s Project Runway season, I think about clothes and I think about Harriet. Harriet is fashion forward—and Harriet can sew, which elevates her to rock star status, in my mind. Sadly, this PR season offers little inspiration in the design department, but coupled with the show, and thus doubling my thoughts on clothing, are my two part time jobs. In the home decor shop, I work with another associate who is trying to launch her clothing line, much of which she wears and is quite beautiful. My other job is in a high-end women’s boutique, a wearable art boutique, where everything is one-of-a-kind, handmade (very Harriet), and very pricey. I have a pitiful key west wardrobe and am a bit intimidated by this clothing niche I’m in, but I’m learning quite a bit about fashion—and playing dress up.

There was a hand woven jacket at the boutique that was perfection, and yes, I’m proud to say, was perfection on me. A perfect periwinkle blue, a light weave with a subtle pattern, with a stand up, black collar and black cuffs, a cropped cut made to match my proportions, while matching my hair, my eyes and my style. Did not match my budget, however—$950.00. Damn. And I get half price, $475.00, but still no go and I could accept that. One can dream.

And then Martin came into the store. I guessed that he was 88ish (I learned later he is 93), also about 88 pounds, with cleaner-pressed jeans, belted and hiked up rather high, and a Ralph Lauren, striped, long sleeve shirt tucked deep within the pants. He was perfectly articulate and charming. He told us he was a widower and wanted something for his granddaughter. My associate picked out a tye-dyed tunic and he loved it. And then he wanted something for his sister-in-law, “she’s about your size,” he said to me. I got the periwinkle jacket and put it on for him and he smiled and charmed us and asked if we would please gift wrap it all, not once inquiring about the price. He must really like his sister-in-law. Turns out Martin is “old” key west, a long time, family-owned-and-operated contractor, a gentleman who built a big chunk of the island, a businessman held in high regard, as we discovered in googling his press. I felt as if I had let my baby go to a good home.

I will get there, I will work my way into beautiful garments, but for now, can only live vicariously in Martin’s sister-in-law’s good fortune. Hats off to you, Harriet, to the Project Runway motley crew, to all of you who sew, design, to the fashionistas, to the fashionista wanna-be’s. Style is wonderfully fun, uplifting and sexy—and, I hear, thank goodness, available at Marshall’s.


photo credit: unknown


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