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Two Penny Blue | Designer spotlight

This local line of blazers has ties to children in Africa and the Chicago Cubs

Photograph: Elizabeth jochum

What it is Marie Whitney’s equestrian-meets-menswear-inspired women’s blazers are go-anywhere power basics that define poise and polish.

Who she is Chicago newbie Whitney is a Harvard grad and wife to Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. A travel junkie, philanthropist and (entirely self-taught) fashion designer, Whitney seamlessly weaves social enterprise into her nascent fashion brand, Two Penny Blue, by funneling a percentage of proceeds into the education of girls at Daraja Academy in Kenya.

Backstory In 2007, Whitney visited sub-Saharan Africa as a representative of Harvard’s School of Public Health and learned that 24 million girls were not able to attend school because they couldn’t afford the requisite uniform. She decided to help by launching Two Penny Blue in 2012. “With every jacket purchased, we donate a school uniform to a girl in need in Africa—opening the door to her education, increasing her self-esteem and creating the opportunity for a brighter future,” Whitney explains. “With an education, a girl in Africa will be three times less likely to contract HIV/AIDS, earn up to 25 percent more and have a smaller, healthier family in the future.”

What she makes “A great blazer pulls together a look,” she says. “It can be worn to the office, out to dinner, for an interview, to school pick up…. Whatever the circumstance, it always looks elegant.” Inspired by style icons that run the gamut from Kate Moss to Kate Middleton, Whitney designs dress-them-up/dress-them-down blazers cut from silks and wools from India. Current best-sellers include the Cambridge blazer in black, cobalt, mint and fuchsia, the Hudson in white Italian sateen and the Audrey in marigold and coral tones. For spring, expect ikat and saturated silks in bold colors like marigold and emerald green. A telltale sign of luxury? A quality button. Whitney exclusively uses brass and weighted metals.

Where to find it Blazers start at $275 at 2pennyblue.com and Sarca(710 N Wabash Ave, 312-255-0900).

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