If Giovanni yells my name one more time I’m going to use this gun for something worse than gluing plastic beads onto fabric. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if he called me Poly like everybody else, but he has to use my full name: Polyester. Twice as confusing because we’re in the workroom of To The Nines, his dress shop, and nobody can tell if he’s calling for me or shouting about fabric. Last year for Christmas I gave him a T-shirt that said “I yell because I care” spelled out in sequins. He didn’t think it was nearly as funny as the seamstresses in the workroom did.
The only reason I’m gluing things onto fabric in the first place is because Giovanni bought fifty yards of stained magenta poly satin at a deep discount. The rest of us had voted for navy blue, but the magenta was 75% off because someone had spilled a pot of coffee on it. Enter my boss, the cheapest businessman on the planet, who told me to design a dress that would hide the stain. I’m the senior concept designer for To The Nines, and we sell inexpensive prom dresses and bright, disposable gowns for the pageant circuit.
Covering stained fabric with a handful of beads and a glue gun wasn’t what I had in mind when I graduated at FIDM—the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. It was a natural to attend the school since I was born in a fabric store (on a bed of polyester, which explains my name). My great aunt and uncle owned Land of a Thousand Fabrics, and the store was like my own special playground. Aunt Millie became my teacher, and, by the time I was five, I could identify most fabrics by touch. She also taught me about the glamour of the twenties and thirties by watching Mae West and Thin Man movies with me. I try to put a little bit of that glamour into the dresses I design, but the effect is lost on Giovanni who wants me to knock ‘em out fast and cheap. He likes to say when I have a shop of my own, I can waste as many yards of fabric on a single dress as I want. Maybe someday I will.
My boyfriend, Carson, calls this a dead end job, but says if I save up and invest wisely, I could go into business for myself. He’s an investment banker and has a plan for his future, a plan that includes me and marriage and a house and a retirement fund that he started contributing to when he was sixteen. He says I need to plan for our future too. I suppose he’s right, but I’m not ready to accept that this is my life. I keep thinking something big might be right around the corner.
Uh-oh. Giovanni just came out of his office and his face is almost as bright as this fabric. Looks like it’s going to be a long day…
You can read more about Polyester in Suede To Rest, the first book in the new “Material Witness” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on November 7 for the chance to win a copy of SUEDE TO REST + a fabric book cover that fits a mass market paperback. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
Meet the author
After close to two decades working for a top luxury retailer, Diane Vallere traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder. SUEDE TO REST, the first in her new Material Witness Mystery Series, comes out November 4. In addition, she writes the Style & Error Mystery Series, featuring former fashion buyer Samantha Kidd, and the Mad for Mod Mystery Series, featuring Doris Day-loving interior decorator Madison Night. Diane started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. Find her at www.dianevallere.com.