Bleach it, slice it, embroider it: Long Islanders are making style their own


Not everyone wants to fit the mold when it comes to slaying style.

“My personal style depends on what I feel that day,” says Pam Solomon, 56, whose looks run from funky minis and tops to polished pantsuits and dresses. “I just don’t want to look like everyone else,” says the retired teacher who lives in Woodbury. “I like to be a little distinctive.”

That’s why she’s a big fan of having off-the-rack purchases customized. Her clothes have been slashed, fringed and embellished to make a style mark — and she’s in good company.

Alessia Lagattuta, 32, an editor who lives in Great Neck, has custom embroidered items in her wardrobe that are treasured pieces.

Try customizing on for size

Dearly Threaded, dearlythreaded.com

Lifestyles Sports, 1901 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, 516-781-8070, lifestylessports.com

Penelope, 8025 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, 516-802-7837, penelopefashionswoodbury.com

To Tie-Dye for Clothing, totiedyeforclothing.com

“I like that there’s a story attached to them,” says Lagattuta, whose personalized items recall her pandemic wedding and a tale of two kitties. (More on that in a minute.)

If you’re keen on style that’s all yours, not cookie cutter, local shops are ready to let you try personalizing on for size. 

Keeping LI in stitches

Monogramming is a time-honored way to make a personal style mark. At Dearly Threaded, an online apparel shop based in Nassau County, names, initials, logos and one-of-a-kind designs are stitched into T-shirts, sweatshirts, button-ups, crew necks, hoodies and jackets.

Heather Borneman launched the shop in 2017, and it has since become known for personalized pieces commemorating bachelorette parties and weddings. 

“About 90% of my demographic is brides,” says Borneman, 32. “The trend right now is denim jackets with custom embroidery on the back.” Designs include a new last name, a song lyric from a couple’s first dance, or blooms from a bouquet. Prices run from about $98 to $250.

White flowers are stitched into the faux leather jacket Lagattuta wore when she tied the knot with her husband in her parents’ backyard in October 2020. 

“It became a statement piece for my wedding because we didn’t have guests,” she says. “There wasn’t a lot to photograph.”

The back of her favorite jean jacket is embroidered with her cats, Grey and Swayze, and it never fails to attract appreciative comments. Working from a photo, Dearly Threaded captured the furballs having the time of their lives in the iconic overhead lift from “Dirty Dancing.” 

Cats Grey and Swayze embroidered onto a denim jacket by...

Cats Grey and Swayze embroidered onto a denim jacket by Heather Borneman, who works out of her Nassau County studio. 
Credit: Alessia Lagattuta

“I do a ton of pet portraits,” says Borneman. “People are always interested in what I can do with an embroidery machine.”

Lifestyles Sports in Wantagh is a brick-and-mortar known for embroidering names, numbers, corporate images and practically everything under the sun on garments and uniforms. 

“We’ve done a multitude of different logos and images,” says manager Andrew Kruter, 30, adding that a local mom had her son’s favorite animated character stitched into a jacket for a gift. “We can kind of do anything.” 

Thank technology that turns pictures into a digital language the embroidery machine understands. That, in turn, gets translated into personal style statements. 

The digitizing fee can start around $25, depending on the design. Embroidering runs about $12 and up. 

Life’s a bleach

Feeling groovy in your clothes is what To Tie-Dye for Clothing is all about. Bleach-dyed items including jean jackets and tees are more popular than ever, according to Marion Schwaner, 27, who owns the Long Island-based online shop.

Her bestsellers are $40 bleach-dyed T-shirts celebrating vintage rock bands including the Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin. There’s a degree of variability when bleaching so no two are ever exactly alike. The shop is launching a new line of $80 bleached denim zodiac-themed jackets this month.

“Customizing just makes clothes more personal — more you,” says Schwaner. 

Slice and dice

Ira Banschick, who founded the fashion boutique Penelope in Woodbury, has decades of experience in the clothing business. He’s seen trends come and go — and one thing remains constant. 

“People like to stand out in a crowd,” he says, adding that custom flourishes are ways to do that. 

At Penelope, a boutique located on Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury,...

At Penelope, a boutique located on Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury, customers can get customized versions of in-stock clothing items. 
Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

He’s had requests to change necklines, crop blouses and distress jeans. Banschick recently took 10 inches off the bottom of a band tee, trimmed the edges of the sleeves, opened the collar, cut a large slit across the front and small slits along the bottom and edges. Banschick says the customized shirt costs about twice as much as the stock shirt. “I slice and dice,” says Banschick with a laugh. “I’m like the Kitchen Magician.”

Ask Pam Solomon. She’s had V-necks cut into T-shirts from the shop, sleeves capped, patches added to tops and pants, and jeans frayed at the hem. 

“Everyone has a different body. “I’m 5-foot-2,” she says, adding that tweaks help flatter her figure while adding style. “Customizing is about the fit and the look.” 



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