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Inspiring Women: Patricia Field Talks Career Success at 92

December 27th, 2016

There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing other women succeed in business. And, when they do – getting to hear or read their story makes it that much more exciting – because you know if she can do it, you can to. When I stumble upon stories about women who have made notable careers or done something out of the ordinary, I have to stop and read – because it’s those stories that keep me reaching for more in my own career. When I saw the WWD article about 92 year old costume designer, Patricia Field, I had to stop. Known for designing the costumes of our favorite ladies of Sex in the City season after season, she’s a legend in her own right. If you’re as curious as I was, keep reading for a few of my favorite excerpts or find the full article here.

Inspiring Women: Patricia Field Talks Career Success at 92

On how she got started in the business:

After 50 years in fashion, why rush? Whether revealing her striking hair color — “poppy and pillar box red” — or crediting Candy Pratts Price for starting her costume designer career by recommending her as costume designer for the 1987 film “Lady Beware,” a pyschodrama starring Diane Lane as a window dresser, 30 years later, Field sounded grateful as ever. “That is one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for me. I always tell people that I am so grateful that she did that,” Field said of Pratts Price.

On opening her own clothing store and who shopped there:

Field recalled driving to the Bronx in her red Sunbeam Alpine convertible sports car like the one Elizabeth Taylor drove in “Butterfield 8” to dig up designer suits at Loehmann’s. With the Mod movement happening in 1966, the-then 24-year-old Field used $4,000 from a trust fund her father had set up to open a store called Pants Pub on NYU’s campus. When she relocated to 8th Street, her business and romantic partner Jo-Anne Salvucci encouraged Field to use her name for the store.

“One day in the mid Seventies, I see this kind of ragamuffin in pink pants, sort of stumbling down the steps to my store, and I’m like, ‘Who the hell is this?’ P.S. Patti Smith,” Field said. “One day she said, ‘I bet you wonder where I wear the clothes I buy from you.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I really do.’ She goes, ‘On stage. Come to one of my shows.’ It was her last show in New York. And there she was in this $200 silk chiffon blouse, wrinkled and crazy. She’d come in and buy this olive green mink coat — drop it on the floor. She’s very irreverent. I really liked her.”

Patricia Field and Juliette Lewis at the premiere of ‘Hysterical Blindness’ in 2002. Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com

On loving your career.

The discussion ended with a message of tenacity. “Make sure you love it. It’s a wonderful industry. You can make things look gorgeous if you have a beautiful heart. But you have to love it because if the going gets rough, you still have to love it,” she said. “It’s not just the fashion industry — it’s the same with any career. Do what you love and do what’s easy.”

So there you have it, one of the most well-known women in costume design, simply started her own small clothing store back in the day. It’s a reminder that we all start somewhere and you never know where life and your career will go. The point is – do what you love and the rest will follow.

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