A few months ago we announced that our dear friend Inge, who works part-time for YLF, would be visiting from Belgium. Local Seattle Fabbers were quick to respond that they would love to meet her, so we started to plan a gathering. Within an hour of posting the thread on our forum, forum members MsMary and Cocolion had booked their flights from California, followed soon thereafter by Deb and Vicki. This enthusiastic response was just the start. Soon we had Fabbers making their way down to Seattle from Texas, Michigan, Arizona, Portland, Hawaii, and more from California. We even had an international contingent from Canada and the United Kingdom! WOW. I was very touched by the overwhelming response for the gathering, which was soon dubbed the “Seattle Shoptember Inge Fest”.
The bustling and supportive YLF community includes women from all over the world, who have over the years gotten to know each other through their regular participation on the forum. They’ve become friends, and in some cases close friends, with one another. Yet most of the members have never met each other in person. The Seattle gathering provided a way for some of our members to finally meet each other. And so what I thought would be a small one day gathering for our Belgian Beauty Inge, turned into a gloroius five day event.
The excitement leading up to the gathering was almost as fabulous as the event itself. There were countless forum threads about what to pack, where to meet, what to shop for, and of course, what to wear. Preparations were hectic and exhilarating. Good thing our guest of honour Inge flew in earlier to get a lay of the land and combat jet lag. She was as fresh as a daisy and ready to rock ’n’ roll by the time forum member Diane G flew in from England on the Thursday before the gigantic gathering on Saturday. Inge and I met up with Diane G for tea at Starbucks as soon as she’d settled into her hotel. Greg joined us later for a fabulous Italian supper at Bar Cantinetta, where we were as happy as clams discussing the best of British ‘80s music, Lego, and how we should start a Pudding Club. The gathering was off to a brilliantly sweet and international start.
Friday morning was all about meeting up with more out-of-towners. It wasn’t long before Sveta, DebbieK, bj1111, Vicki, Inge and I were hugging each other hello at the W Hotel. There was lots of laughing and catching up as we all walked through Pike Place Market on the way to lunch, taking in Seattle’s gorgeous water views (and some fresh mini donuts) along the way. Lunch at Local 360 was divine, complete with peanut butter and jelly popovers. No one could stop talking and smiling. After lunch we met MsMary and Deb at the Nordstrom Flagship. It was Mary’s birthday so there was a lot of hugging and wishing right in the middle of Salon Shoes. The sales staff smiled and enjoyed our energy. The group then went off to shop at Club Monaco and had a ball.
Friday night’s dinner in honour of the out-of-towners was Spanish tapas at Tango. There we were joined by AJ and her sister, Cocolion, and Portlanders Rabbit and Ambergreen. Local Fabbers Annagybe, Aida and Kari joined us too. We were a very loud and rowdy bunch of 18 for dinner. Afterwards we headed over to the Cheesecake Factory for dessert because no one was ready to say goodnight just yet.
More than 30 people attended the absolutely epic YLF gathering on Saturday morning — the largest gathering to date. Joining the group for an early breakfast at sassy Urbane were out-of-towners Claire, Kathleen, Cerinda, Goldenpig, and several Seattle locals. The Fabbers looked every bit as stylish as I thought they would, and I was blown away by the beauty — both inside and out — of the group. At one point I took a step back to observe everyone from a quiet corner of the restaurant, and my eyes watered a little with joy. The turnout for Inge’s visit to Seattle exceeded my high expectations. Breakfast at Urbane was even louder and more festive than at Tango, if you can believe it. I have never seen as much energy, hustle and bustle, enthusiasm and warmth in one place at one time.
After breakfast, the gathering split into two groups to shop up a storm. Local Fabber Annagybe led one group to a consignment store and some designer boutiques, while I took another group to Nordstrom and AllSaints. We had so much fun trying on shoes, clothes and accessories while asking each other for advice. Everyone was marvelously patient, thoughtful, and kind, but also assertive with their suggestions.
It was soon time for lunch at the Steelhead Diner, where we rested and recuperated after half a day of shopping. The private room at the restaurant allowed us to move around, giving us each a chance to chat with as many people as possible. Soon, the energy levels were restored. Sharing good food and fashion with friends is energizing and therapeutic.
The group was smaller after lunch, which meant that we could go to the Rack, Zara, Ann Taylor and the Loft as one group. More people found treasures and enjoyed helping each other make sure that fits, silhouettes and colours were spot on for the wearers. It was incredible to see our forum members help and care for each other. That evening, Inge, Greg and I had a prior engagement, so the rest of the group had supper without us and I hear that it was just as festive.
On Sunday the activities continued. Annagybe organized a Sunday brunch at Elliott’s Oyster House, which was attended by a group of 15 locals and out-of-towners. Some were introduced to their very first oyster and loved them straight off the bat. Although our voices were starting to fade a little from all the laughter and yakking, the group was no less talkative than before.
Sunday evening we all had a lot of fun dressing up for a swanky cocktail party. Forum member Dashielle had very kindly offered to host us in her home, and it was fabulous. Wonderful company, tasty food and a stylish setting in Dashielle’s beautiful home. The elegant bash was a splendid way to celebrate fashion and style in Seattle, and many thanks to Dashielle and her husband for their generosity and hospitality.
Most out-of-towners flew back Monday morning, but DebbieK, Vicki and Sveta were catching flights later that day. So we were met by locals Annagybe, Dashielle and Aida for some final shopping, chatting and eating.
The Seattle Shoptember Inge Fest was an utterly joyful delight from start to finish. Thanks to all for making it such a special event, especially those who travelled from further afield. One week later and my head is still spinning as I think about the level of engagement, excitement and commitment from our members. The event was accompanied by a kind and giving spirit which truly touched my heart. It was magical, and I can hardly wait to do it all again.