By Amanda Whitegiver
Emily Seymour’s desire to dig deeper Maine roots has led her on a winding path. Beginning with her childhood dreams of being a farmer or fashion designer, her desire for a creative outlet led her to spend over eight years working for caterers, event planners, and floral designers in the wedding industry. Together with her partner, Seymour was searching for work that would not only serve as a creative, meaningful outlet, but also provide year-round employment (all too often a struggle in our tourist-driven economy).
Although they were in the midst of having their home built by local architect Owen Cartwright, an ideal shop location proved irresistible. In this way, the store Curator went from dream to reality. Celebrating the fourth anniversary this month, Curator was originally opened as a men’s consignment shop. It wisely fills a niche in the market and provides the Midcoast region’s out-of-state transplants a handy place to give their suits, cashmeres, and other corporate-life castoffs a second life.
Despite the fact that Emily and her partner were in the throes of planning their wedding, last year they expanded the shop to include women’s consignment. In less than six months they transformed their lower level to a sumptuous retro retail space, and a friend’s heavily spray-painted barn into a bright and airy wedding venue.
Although she sometimes models for her friend Cig Harvey’s artwork, Emily jokes that she still wonders what to do with her hands while being photographed. As we chatted about clothes and working retail, mutual philosophies became apparent. One firmly held belief: there is nothing wrong with a body, or body type. When something doesn’t fit, the clothing is in the wrong every time. Less than a century ago, clothing was still custom tailored, but in these mass-produced clothing times, consider what styles fit your shape well and consider whether something can be improved with the help of a good tailor. For her petite frame, Seymour looks to women’s styles from the ’50s, when tops were more cropped, or vintage boys’ shirts.
Her passion for clothes, thoughtful design, and sense of humor make both her home and shop a welcome feast for the senses. I think the magic, however, is in the passion. Emily puts it simply; “I just love clothes, and I feel very lucky to be able to share that with my friends and customers.”
Describe your style in one sentence.
I usually dress like a classic man from Robert Redford-era Hollywood: good jeans, a tee or sweater, a leather jacket, and boots or loafers.
Is it “Maine” style? If so, how? If not, how does it deviate?
My style is Maine in the sense that I dress very practically. I like the ability to be able to go anywhere in what I’m wearing. I grew up here, and it’s interesting for me to see the way Maine style has leeched out to the mainstream. So, I’m not wearing LL Bean boots and a Buffalo plaid jacket, but I’m also not too far from that look.
First outfit you remember picking out and loving, feeling great in?
My mom says I started wanting to dress myself when I was 3. I have a memory of loving these yellow leggings with big purple irises that my mom didn’t like, but I insisted on wearing them.
How old were you when you felt like you had developed a style of your own?
When I was 9 my parents took my brother and me to Paris. I packed cargo pants, a GAP sweatshirt, and two bucket hats. I got to the city and saw how good everyone looked, so when I got home, I started to care about what I wore. Now the outfit I brought to Paris is actually quite on trend, so maybe I should have stuck with it.
What was your last memorable outfit?
My partner Ben and I got married in July, so my wedding looks were my most memorable outfits of the year. I wore a 1950s dress designed by the same man who did Elaine’s dress in The Graduate, which I didn’t find out until after I bought it. It was one of my references for my wedding look, so that was affirming. After dinner I changed into a bodysuit and cream silk skirt that Ben’s aunt made for me. I wore red crocodile mules the whole night, and never took them off, they were so comfortable.
Favorite brick-and-mortar place to buy clothing in Maine?
Our store, Curator! Between thrifting for the store and working with consignors and dealers, most of my clothes come to me. Otherwise I find great things at Serendipity in Camden, Village Wear in Belfast, Daughters in Rockland, Flea for All in Portland, and Folk in Kittery.
Do you thrift? If so, where?
I thrift for a living! I feel like a mushroom forager in that my spots are sacred and secret. We go as far north as Ellsworth and as far south as Portland on a regular basis. We also go thrifting whenever we’re on vacation.
Best clothing, shoes, or accessory bargain of all time?
A 1970s white leather Fendi crossbody purse came into the shop two years ago. I paid the consignor full price, but it was such a gem to just walk through our door.
Most you ever spent on something to wear?
I usually cap out at around $300 for what I’m willing to spend on a single item. I have a couple of leather jackets that cost that much, as well as the boots I wear every day from September to June.
Who is your style icon of all time?
Paul Newman, Jennifer Aniston in the early 90s, women in the 1940s who wore menswear.
Who is your style icon in Maine (dead or alive)?
My friends, particularly Madeleine Morlet and Anna Flynn.
Mountains or coast?
Coast, always and forever.
What would you refuse to wear?
Anything I don’t feel comfortable in, physically or emotionally.
Do you own Bean boots? If yes, how many pairs? If no, what do you wear in the snow?
I don’t own Bean boots at the moment. For snow, I wear these North Face boots that are made out of puffy coat material (they’re not cool), or a pair of Ukrainian army boots made out of black sheepskin.
Where do you get your style inspiration? Magazines, movies, social media?
Movies and TV are very inspiring for me. I just re-re-watched Thelma and Louise, and I love how their clothes are such a driving force in the narrative of them gaining freedom. Those jeans they wear at the end of the film! Perfect. I also love getting ideas from seeing people out and about.
What is your current “go to” outfit or item of clothing?
Jeans and a 1950s cashmere crewneck.
What do you change into after a long day?
These horrible black sweatpants and a rotating cast of sweatshirts. It’s not cute.