208. Barrington Street Style: One-of-a-Kind Fashion Designer, Dyllis Braithwaite

2 mins read

I met Dyllis Braithwaite in her home on a late summer afternoon after the rain had passed. When she opened the door wearing head to toe animal print, I knew this woman had style.  Known for her wearable art and beautiful fabrics, Dyllis allowed me to learn more about what inspires her signature looks for this week’s Barrington Street Style.

In college, Dyllis studied home economics at The University of Connecticut where she learned sewing and tailoring. But it wasn’t until later that she discovered her natural eye for style and design. After Dyllis and her family moved to Barrington, her husband met Mr Finn, owner of Finn’s Fabric Shop. He was looking for a manager for his shop and Dyllis’ husband said, “Call my wife! She’s looking for something to do.” The rest is history. Three years later, Dyllis bought the shop and renamed it Finn’s Fabrics by Dyllis. She owned the store at 113 N. Cook Street  for 40 years before closing up shop in 2008.  This week, Dyllis celebrates both her 88th birthday and her 64th wedding anniversary with her signature style!


Dyllis says her fabric shop fueled her creativity.  “Necessity was the mother of invention and so my creativity developed.” Dyllis has always loved beautiful fabrics inspired by her mother’s appreciation for fine fabrics. Every year she would go on buying trips around the states to stock her shop with gorgeous, one of a kind fabrics. She explained to me that when her customers would come into her shop, they would say, “Where do you buy your fabrics? We can’t find these anywhere else!” Dyllis would reply, “No you can not because I dare to buy the beautiful ones.” She says the Lord has given her the ability to know what is beautiful and what isn’t. “When it sends chills up and down my spine, that’s when I know it’s beautiful,” she says. Through her shop, Dyllis was able to share her fabrics, and her passion, with the public.

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When I asked Dyllis about her thoughts on style trends today she replied, “Don’t worry about style, do your own thing and express yourself. Be a one-of-a-kind person and don’t let the designers dictate to you what to wear! Simple is so much better than busy and less it more.” She encouraged me to wear what makes me feel beautiful and confident.  “It will lift you up and make you feel better,” she says.  Dyllis lives with her husband, Bill in downtown Barrington. They have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. She also loves gardening and swimming in her pool with her husband.

Dyllis is wearing a very soft cotton plain weave animal print outfit and loves her clothing to be soft and comfortable. She works only with natural fabrics which are healthier for you than synthetics. Her hat is from Catch Penny and she has tied some extra fabric around the hat in a double bow. Dyllis’ personal style is beautiful and comfortable.

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In her books “Oh! I Love What You Are Wearing (Volumes 1  & 2) Dyllis models all of her clothing. While flipping through her book, it is evident that Dyllis has a keen eye for detail. From metallic trim to fringe to peacock feathers, Dyllis says, “You have to let your imagination run wild and develop and see what ideas come up.” Dyllis makes all of her own clothing, but says doesn’t need to anymore because she simple has too many!

You can view all of Dyllis’ wearable art by purchasing her books, “Oh! I Love What You Are Wearing (Volumes 1  & 2). To purchase Dyllis’ book, email Dyllis at dyllis1@aol.com or call 847-381-2853.

Want to be featured on Barrington Street Style, or know a someone with amazing style? Send a note to Aimée at aimee@aimeemazzenga.com

About the Author

Aimee Mazzenga - SquareAimée Mendez is a lifestyle photographer with a passion for capturing the beautiful and fleeting moments of life that are so easy to miss. She loves photographing people, events, interiors, food, landscapes and love. She studied photography at Columbia College and completed a psychology degree at North Park University. She currently resides in Chicago with her new husband, Jonny. For more about Aimee and to view her portfolio, visit www.aimeemazzenga.com

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