The embroidered jacket had a secure role in my mother's wardrobe. Helen D. Sefcovic was a fashionista before the word was invented.
She trained as a fashion designer and, as my cousin Marianne Green said at her wake, "There was nothing she couldnt do with a sewing machine."
Mother could not only design clothing but make patterns and stitch an exquisitely detailed and finished garment from start to finish.
Her good taste has influenced me in ways I continue to discover.
For example, as I cleaned out her wardrobe, I found five embroidered Mandarin style jackets and one similarly embroidered shirt, shown above.
No wonder I admire and love Asian-influenced clothing. I had not realized the source of my enthusiasm! Perhaps she was influenced by my father, John P. Sefcovic, who spent a good deal of his Navy career in the Asian theater. Or maybe it was just a sign of the post-War era, when Asian elements including tropical prints made their way into Western fashion.
I even remember him saying when I was still in grade school that China would one day be global power.
These relaxed fit, unlined jackets can double as shirts when worn with nothing underneath.
They are perfect for South Florida weather.
The fabulous embroidered and embellishments, such as buttons that fastened with a material loop, make these look dressy when so accessorized.
Yet the cotton-poly blend is washable, and the loose fit means one also can use them for casual wear.
I've raved elsewhere about the fabulous fabrics that are being engineered.
Even though I stay away from polyesters because I get skin rashes when my sweat does not properly evaporate, a bit of Dacron, Spandex, or poyester microfiber makes life easier.
These embroidered jackets emerged from a suitcase unwrinkled after a week, most of it in the hot trunk of a small car. I was sure this would act like a steam room to press in wrinkles.
The cotton-poly textile looks like natural cotton and has a polished feel.
My neighbor, who drove me to the airport several times for last-minute trips to see Mom as she grew more ill, selected the pale pink with its delicate white embroidery.
I envisioned it on Chantelle the moment I took it from the closet. I was so glad that my taste was confirmed, and this long jacket was her first choice.
It is delicately embroidered in white, as are three other garments. Only two feature colorful floral patterns.
I look good in black, and I love the vivid colors on that version -- so I probably won't part with it. You can see the detail on this page.
Green is another great color for me, and I can wear it on holidays such as Christmas and St. Patrick's day.
The other colors in my mother's collection are lilac, peach, and the red pull-over tunic with the V-neckline.
Mother had these Mandarin single-breasted long jackets for many years, perhaps decades. Some may have been bought during the great Nehru-jacket craze of the 1970s.
I have noticed embroidered jackets from time to time not in abundance -- at Potpourri Group stores, Appleseed's, Norm Thompson, Old Pueblo Traders, and other retailers that cater to a slightly older female shoppers.
I purchased a cotton embroidered jacket a few years ago from the Vermont Country Store. It was a lightweight cotton with a light lining. I ignored the care instructions and washed it, since it was cotton. The embroidery dye ran and it was ruined.
Take care of the garments you love, and you will be able to enjoy them for many years. That's another lesson from my mother!