Carolyn Matusek (center) was honored with the Lifetime Membership Award Wednesday during the monthly meeting of Shelbyville Womans Club at Riverbend Country Club. Lila Beasley (left), program chairperson, talked about her childhood experiences of going into Carolyns dress shop. Club president Gay Ervin led the days events and presented Matusek with a special gift.
T-G Photos by Dawn Hankins
Most simply put, Carolyn Simmons Matusek is considered in Shelbyville to be a life-long fashion matriarch.
To show their appreciation, Shelbyville Woman’s Club members paid homage to Matusek on Wednesday by presenting her with a lifetime membership award. The room full of women showed the local clothier and hometown lady their appreciation with a standing ovation.
“Thank you for your dedication and service to this club and to this town,” member Lila Beasley expressed.
Beasley noted Matusek was only in the eighth grade when she first started in her family business. With an innate fashion sense, Beasley noted the women’s clothier has continued to serve the women of this community and beyond.
“Carolyn, we thank you for sharing your love of textiles with us for so many years,” said Beasley.
The clothier and long-time club member has hosted tons of local fashion shows over the years. The woman’s club has also been on the receiving end many times with seasonal presentations.
This time around, the Shelbyville businesswoman stood behind the microphone at Riverbend Country Club as the honoree rather than a fashion show emcee discussing spring hemlines. Her words of appreciation were empowering to her fellow club members.
“You really just don’t known what all you do,” she told the audience.
Immaculately put together in her plum spring linen jacket, Matusek said she was humbled to receive the prestigious honor. She credited her husband of 53 years, Tony Matusek, for being her rock of inspiration as well as their two sons and three grandchildren.
Matusek talked about how she and her husband first met while students at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. She admits it was love at first sight.
“So that’s where I met Tony Matusek . . . over a cold fried egg in the cafeteria at MTSU,” reminisced Matusek. “It’s the best morning I have ever spent in my life. He has been one great guy.”
Matusek advised the women that their achievements in Shelbyville are greatly underestimated. She urged them to continue as inspirations to other women.
” A little town . . . I’m always saying myself, we need to do just a little bit more,” expressed Matusek.
The long-time clothier was certainly in her element within the sea of fuchsia tops, spring florals and pearls. She embraced Lila Beasley upon accepting her award.
“Carolyn, anytime I visited your store, you made me feel as if you went to market with me in mind,” said Beasley. “My very first grownup suit came from Carolyn’s. I needed this particular suit for an event in college and of course my mother and I went to Carolyn’s because that is where special events were outfitted.”
Beasley reminded the audience “ladies did not wear pants.” What they did wear in the 1950s and early 1960s, Beasley advised, were lots of stylish hats and gloves, which Carolyn’s kept fully stocked.
She went on to describe how Carolyn’s on the square helped local women in the 1960s look as chic as Jackie Kennedy with a line of tailored suits, pillbox hats and scarves. She said the local fashion icon even made those “dreaded shoulder pads” of the 1980s look fashionable.
“Carolyn carved a niche in the retail sector of Shelbyville like no other,” Beasley said. “She saw to our every need.”
All needs met
Beasley recalled the vast selection of winter coats, which decades ago was a mainstay to keep warm.
She said Shelbyville women could walk into Carolyn’s and leave with not only their dress or suit, but even pantyhose in taupe or the ever popular shade of “barely there.” She also mentioned to the room full of women that at Carolyn’s, you could always find undergarments, jewelry and always left wearing the scent of Faberge.
“Sweaters, sweater sets, blouses, pleated skirts, skinny skirts and maxis and minis,” Beasley said, “oh, if your dressing room walls could talk.”