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  • Alicia McCaslin

My Love for Smythe

If there was one designer who could be your ‘one-all-be-all’ for your wardrobe, who would that be? This is almost like “who would you choose to be stranded on an island with?” As you can imagine, this is not an easy question to answer. Lululemon would no doubt rank high on many lists for comfort and current lifestyle but I’m not ashamed to admit that Lululemon just doesn’t cut it for my creative needs. When I first got into the business of fashion, Diane von Furstenberg was my person. I read everything about her and still admire the fact that she’s the only daughter of a Holocaust survivor who grew a fashion empire from scratch. And as much as I revere her, the day came where another label outnumbered those with her signature.Creating is a process that is richer when more than one person is involved, in my opinion. Even for the singular creator, an audience will make the effort sweeter. Two gal pals from Canada started with the concept of designing the perfect blazer for women back in 2004. The precision of design, fit, and master tailoring brought a covetable power item, that men had been leaning on in their wardrobes for decades. The sartorial term “blazer” originated from the Lady Margaret Boat Club of St. John’s College, Cambridge. The jackets were constructed of bright red fabric and the term blazer came to be. All these years later, blazers remain a dominant part of our culture for both men and women, and thanks to Smythe designers, Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe, women can look forward to enticing iterations of the iconic basic beyond navy and black standards.

Jackets and blazers are the core of my own style and wardrobe. When Smythe first started in 2004, they were the only company to specialize in the one garment category. Before this, jackets were purchased as part of suiting in womenswear. The fit was what set this company apart as they took great pains to get the “cut” that became so sought after. I recall being stopped many times wearing my Smythe jackets to be asked where I scored a jacket with such a cute fit. They went through several different pattern makers and 20 to 30 different drafts to establish that cutaway flirty fit. Ask those in the industry and you’ll find that besides a bra, the jacket is the most complicated garment to create. To get a sense of the timeline, it wasn’t until 2010 when the Beard sisters-in-law followed with their Dickey blazers and the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in that iconic one button navy version (now called the Duchess Blazer) in 2011. So, when Smythe decided to break into ready-to-wear, the balance of designer domination in my closet weighted heavy Smythe. You may recall my philosophy on style is much like a buffet - try everything once but then ultimately go back for what’s most satisfying. I put this same theory in front of my styling clients. Once you’ve established a great relationship with a collection, it’s liberating to stick with them. Thankfully Smythe has remained part of the Old Town retail experience where you’ll find it hanging with Ulla Johnson, Sea NY, Mother, and Tibi at The Hive.

I’m all about the economy and where to invest when it comes to getting the most bang for your hard-earned dollar. The Duchess still makes great use of hers seen below in the telltale mask version! While the price of Smythe may seem a bit eyebrow raising, the cost-per-wear is fully intact. What I find doing for my clients who purchase Smythe is showing them how to orchestrate getting the most out of the power coats, jackets, and blazers with some storyboarding or flat lays using their own pieces. Back in 2017, I broke down some “how to’s” for Stylebook and thought it was time again as we celebrate women this month with women who design for women.

Below you’ll find my way of directing usage of the Smythe Ski Slope Blazer in Chalk within a client’s closet. Most of the below pieces are from The Hive & The Shoe Hive. Even if you’ve been feeling a little clueless on what to purchase this season as the world slowly finds its way back to business as usual, the timelessness of Smythe will set the bar for a future where women will continue to break boundaries and look incredible in the process.

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