Old-Fashioned | Local Lisa, March 2012


Click here to read in the zMagI wish you could have met my Grandmama, Martha Emily Whitman.

Eight years ago last month, Feb. 25, 2004, to be exact, she lost her battle with Alzheimer’s.

But, boy, what a dame!

Local Lisa

Martha was nominated prom queen at the University of Illinois.

This is what you need to know about Martha:
1. At almost 5’8”, she stood tall, straight and firmly planted. Think Kate Hepburn.
2. She always, and I mean always, wore a skirt.
3. She was as elegant as they come, but didn’t think twice of getting down on the ground with children, pets or flowers.

She would have made a great first lady. Heck, she would have made a great president!

Grandmama was polish without pretense, and, though it seems strange to say, her strong sense of style kept me safely tucked and hemmed when I was growing up.

Here’s what she taught me:

Frugal can be fabulous.
Martha didn’t shop couture. She shopped at Hill’s department store in Vincennes.

But when she slipped on a jacket and zipped up those signature A-line skirts, she might as well have been wearing Chanel.

She was much more interested in living simply and giving to those in need than in fine tailoring.

However, she knew how to look for quality clothing and took exceptionally good care of everything she had –– including the people around her.

Find a style that works and stick with it.

Local Lisa

Me and my Grandmama.

To be honest, she had a rather boyish shape: square shoulders, no hips, long legs.

Her figure, like her personality, was very efficient.

Put her in a wrap dress or gown? Forget it.

But no one could wear a suit like Martha Whitman. The woman was cut perfectly for wool crepe.

During my adolescence, when I would moan about my lack of curves, my mom would remind me that Grandmama didn’t have an hourglass waist either.

And it gave me hope.

To this day, I feel stronger when I put on a classic two-button blazer.

Have a signature.
Skirts, gauchos, culottes. She wore them all.

No pants. No slacks. No trousers.

When Grandmama passed away, it seemed the entire town came to honor her memory.

Everyone commented on her elegance, her beauty and her glorious sense of fashion.

But what everyone remembers is how loved they were by Martha.

And that was her true signature.

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