Last night I joined my friend Tina for another chapter in her wardrobe upgrade (the first was Tom James, which I wrote about here and here). I had no idea I was going to find another great resource for readers of this blog. The designer is Maria Ficalora, and her website is

It’s not clear from her website, but except for the RTW pieces sold on the site, each piece is custom made. This means that Maria can add darts for a more fitted look and that she will make sure that the front isn’t shorter than the back. It also means that you can choose your colors. I love this! How many of us have settled for something in a blah color just because it fits? I post a picture of the wall of colors in her studio at the end of this article.

Tina chose the jacket above. She says that when she tried it on, it felt “like a friendly hug.” Maria showed her different threads, and together they came up with a combination of forest green, graphite and gray so that the jacket is serious enough for Tina’s conservative job but will go great with jeans. It has some color but will match a lot of things. Tina chose full-length sleeves.

Before committing to the jacket, Maria will have a swatch of the fabric woven to show Tina. Once Tina signs off on the swatch, her jacket will be ready for a fitting in 4-6 weeks. Below is a basket of swatches that Maria has made to show other customers.

Maria Ficalora creates investment pieces. A jacket in cotton and rayon can cost around $550, and a jacket in wool and rayon around $850. If Maria were to sell through a retailer, the prices would be much higher. Both fabric and jacket are made in the United States.

Look for pictures of the jackets that I would choose tomorrow, together with the justification I will use to buy at least one of them. It may be hard to decide on the color, but I’m loving the violet in the top center of the picture below.