Oh Sew Glamorous!
By Lina Balciunas

By Sunday's twilight, the schedule had predictably fallen a bit behind and the East All-Stars, who were supposed to have their photo shoot from 6:30-7 before yielding the studio to the West, were still posing for the cameras well into 7:15. The instructions for the weekend read "business casual" as the dress code for the shoot with the President's Reception to follow and the players interpreted this to mean anything from Nykesha Sales' denim car coat to Ruthie Bolton-Holifield's mint green cocktail dress.

Taj McWilliams-Franklin models the pink outfit she designed and made. (WNBA Photo)

Taj McWilliams-Franklin arrived last for the East in a swirl of pink. Very full pants with a sleeveless top that flowed as if it could stand alone as a dress about midway down her calves. But turning around, she revealed two sets of ties across her bare back -- the only things holding the front of her top up over the front of her. She cut a striking figure in the monochromatic brushed silk.

As McWilliams-Franklin struck her first pose, the photographer asked, "Is this another Taj special?" And McWilliams-Franklin shyly replied, "Yes."

It turns out that McWilliams-Franklin needed every precious second of the schedule delay to complete her ensemble. Not to deliberate whether her shoes matched her purse or if her earrings set off her lipstick, but rather to finish sewing her outfit.

"I made it in like, three and a half hours," the Miracle center said. "I just finished right before the (shoot). I just finished the pants."

McWilliams-Franklin has been making her own clothes for more than a decade ever since she became pregnant with her daughter, Michelle.

"I had a lot of time so I actually taught myself how to sew and then I started getting better and better," she said. "Then I started thinking, let me make this. Then I'd make it and I was like, I hate it. I ripped it up and then I'd start over. I made my first suit overseas and then I just kept going from there."

Her everyday clothes are most likely to be store-bought, while she saves her inspiration and perspiration for the dressier attire. Wearing her creations to social events, she can promote herself as a designer while watching her wallet. She calls it "simple and easy" to make clothes she feels good about and are thereby guaranteed to fit her 6-2 frame.

Her teammates think she looks good too and acknowledged her arrival at Sunday's photo shoot with a chorus of whistles.

Miracle teammate Nykesha Sales poses with McWilliams-Franklin at the photo shoot. (WNBA Photo)

"Actually to be honest, I got the idea from the (stage act) Queens of Comedy. Sommore, I think is her name," McWilliams-Franklin said. "She has on a leather one that's made like this but it has openings on the side that she ties. That's too racy for me.

"This is racy, but the back that I wanted didn't look good on it so I took the back off and added the straps so it would look nice. So I got that idea from her -- long front and bell bottom pants."

She completed the looked with high-heeled sandals to show off her perfectly polished toenails -- in a shade of metallic green no less -- which added a touch of clash and a touch of flash to the overall look. But that has a different story.

"My daughter's idea. I got a pedicure and she picked the color," McWilliams-Franklin laughed. "Green! I have to wear them now even though it doesn't match -- but hey."

While she spends her practice time on the court perfecting her shot, McWilliams-Franklin admitted that off the court, she spends much time working on her sewing techniques -- namely one fashion feature that seems to elude her.

"I do have a problem with sleeves," she said. "Without sleeves I'm great. With sleeves I'm kind of confused, but I'm working on it. I'm actually reading a book on how to make sleeves so I can be better. Some of my sleeves are poofed, some of them are low ... but I'm working on it."

All-Star Weekend is an all-encompassing event where the players compete to see who's got glam as much as who's got game. Score one for the East at Sunday's photo shoot where McWilliams-Franklin threw down a slam dunk with her original designer duds.


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McWilliams-Franklin having a ball as three-time All-Star