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Lake Oswego's Joan Robbins will share how she reinvented herself when her last child went to college. She learned to sew, and design clothing and launched Alton Oak, a women's clothing line.

FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego fashion designer Joan Robbins will tell how she discovered her passion and give tips on rediscovering yourself at the Lake Oswego Womens Coalition meeting March 21 at The Stafford. Call for reservations.

Lake Oswego Women's Coalition will hold its monthly luncheon program March 21 at the theater room at the Stafford Retirement Community, 1200 Overlook Drive in Lake Oswego.

The guest speaker will be Joan Robbins, who last summer launched Alton Oak, a clothing line for mature women that is comfortable, stylish and made of easy care fabrics. She will share tips to help women discover their passion, and in the process rediscover themselves.

When her last child went off to college Robbins knew she wanted to get involved with something new, something that would use her brain in a new way. She began taking sewing classes through Portland Sewing Institute, the public education arm of Portland Fashion Institute in northeast Portland.

What began as a hobby blossomed into a career as a fashion designer. After three years of increasingly difficult and technical classes in sewing skills, pattern making, fashion illustration and more, Robbins graduated from Portland Fashion Institute last summer, and presented her graduate portfolio in a runway fashion show at the Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland.

Robbins named her line Alton Oak with a nod to her mother's family name, Alton.

"I come from a long time of very strong women in the Alton family," she says. Her great-grandmother Anna (Mintie) Alton was married to Robert D. Alton, who established a private medical practice in Livingston, Mont. in 1883. He frequently traveled to Europe for training, and Anna accompanied him.

"She was a clothes horse," Robbins says. "She brought Paris fashions back and wore them in Livingston." That's the confidence and style Robbins captures in her designs.

"Alton Oak exudes confidence, style and femininity; designed for women embracing a new season in their life," Robbins says.

All are welcome to attend the luncheon meeting, which begins at 11:30 a.m. with networking. Lunch follows at noon with the program beginning at 12:30 p.m. Cost is $18 for LOWC members and $22 for non-members. Reservations can be made by calling 503-638-1589.

Lake Oswego Women's Coalition is a women's networking group with no committee work or responsibilities.

"It's strictly for getting together with women for a great lunch and an interesting program," said Barby Smith, who serves on the group's board of directors. "There is no committee work or other commitment."

Learn more by calling 503-638-1589.

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