Lesley Ware’s major life transition, Bumble success story, and fashion as self-care

The New York writer and fashion icon shares a very real slice of life as a newlywed during the COVID-19 pandemic

About Lesley Ware

Lesley is the author of three activity books for kids (about sewing, fashion, and style) and creates fashion education programs for The Parsons School of Design, The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pioneer Works, Museum of the City of New York, among other organizations. She has two new book projects on the horizon, along with a podcast and yet-to-be-announced “dream collaborations” in the works.

Sew Fab: Sewing and Style for Young Fashionistas by Lesley Ware. Lesley will publish two new books soon — one at the end of 2020 and another in 2022.

What’s your job in a nutshell?

I left my last full-time job at Girl Scouts of the USA 10 years ago. I can’t believe that I’ve made it a decade working for myself, with part-time teaching and book deals here and there.

Lesley Ware married Victor Varnado on Election Day in November 2019, in Long Island City. “We were planning to go to the courthouse, but it was closed. We found out the day of and had to pivot.”

How did you meet your husband, Victor Varnado?

We met on Bumble. I wanted to meet someone in real life, but my friend suggested that I join and I gave it a try. This was my first foray into dating in 14 years. I figured it would not hurt to try it for four days out of curiosity. I’m glad I did.

I haven’t gotten to meet Victor yet. What’s he like?

Victor is amazing! He’s a multi-talented artist and producer who has great ideas and can play a killer game of Ms. Pac Man. The thing he’s most excited about right now is being a cartoonist for The New Yorker.

Fashion is self-care for you — how so?

When I was going through my divorce, the only thing I could do outside the tiny-lofted studio I rented at the time was go to therapy and have breakfast with my cousin Brett, once a week.

“The week leading up to my birthday I created an experiment I called 5 Days of Sparkle. I shopped my closet for everything that had beading, sequin, or sparkles. It boosted my mood and took some of the sting out of being single and not having the dream 40th birthday party that I’d been planning for years.”

What three jumbles are top of mind for you right now?

One of my dear friends, Nicole, and I were talking recently about wanting to find new friends and how that can be a challenge in your 40s. Long gone are the days when you meet a best buddy on a new job, the subway, dorm cafeteria salad bar, or at a party. I mean it happens, but it is rare. Right now, I’m trying to rekindle old friendships and think out the box about what new friendships look like, especially as it relates to embracing intergenerational friends.

“My therapist is encouraging me to take breaks and staycations, and spend days in bed just relaxing. Being a Black woman, this is something that I used to think was a luxury. My parents have said to me since I can remember that I need to be ‘twice as good, ‘twice as smart, ‘twice as everything’, to succeed. The bar always went higher and higher, and I piled on more and more. This year I’ve decided to stop and rest.”

Even in quarantine, there’s a lot to do. Maybe even more with the shifting of my mind to think virtually. Lately, I’m looking for ways to improve, to advocate for myself, and to show up bigger. I now realize that I need to add rest to the list. This is the only way I’m going to get to the goals I truly desire.

How do you go with the flow?

Writing in my journal, talking with my therapist, being kind to myself, and resting. Covid-19 is making it clear that the priority right now is to stay healthy and keep those we love healthy, too.

Have you experienced any positive aspects of life during the Coronavirus pandemic? If so, what’s the main good thing, and what’s the main bad thing you’re dealing with?

One positive aspect has been standing Zoom and Facetime dates with friends. We’re not visiting museums, pop-ups, or new bars together but we’ve been able to do fun things like morning coffee dates, virtual dance parties, and even attend a multi-day children’s book conference. The beauty of being virtual means seeing your friends and being anywhere in the world right now. Thank goodness for technology.

What have you figured out by now, and what do you hope to figure out next?

I’ve figured out that there is no set time to do anything.

Head of Content, Jumble & Flow + Community Manager for Fable. Bylines in Abstract, Etsy, Minted, Pitchfork. Get my newsletter: jumbleandflow.com/newsletter

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