On a late-August morning, the STYLE team went on a fashion scavenger hunt—hopping around to indie boutiques in Baltimore to ask: “What’s in for fall?” (Autumn arrives early for those of us in the magazine biz, you know.) Some retailers had turned up the AC—and style—with sales floors merchandized to the max with jeans, sweaters and boots. Others were playing coy, offering just a smattering of transitional, on-trend options designed to whet customers’ appetites until cooler weather forces our(credit card-clutching) hand. Here’s what we discovered…
The Little Shoebox
7625 Bellona Ave., Ruxton
Owner Emelie Blaze gives her chic Ruxton shop a mini-makeover each August—this year, including a hot-pink satin wall, feminine slipper chairs and modern statement pillows (also for sale).
STORE PICK: Pump up the volume with the uber-glam, black suede Transfer booty by Jon Josef (seen on the opposite page), featuring gold studs and the season’s new “it” height—the “mid-heel,” somewhere between a stiletto and kitten. Meow.
ALSO LOOK FOR… Two more versions of that studded shoe: a glitzy, peep-toe slingback called Nectar and the Gatsby smoking loafer in velvet. We’re ready to chill in the elephant-grey suede, lace-up hightops by Pour la Victoire.
1407 Clarkview Road
There’s no Alice Jane at Alice Jane, which means we all get to personify the girl who shops at the on-trend boutique, where casual-chic style rules this season.
STORE PICK: For the perfect Saturday outfit, try a feminine take on the tradi-tional flannel shirt by L.A.-based Rails (Kate Hudson and Eva Longoria are fans) or by Paige—made in lightweight blends, perfect for layering or wrapping around your waist.
“A vest really pulls any casual look together,” says store manager/buyer Emily Davis, who’s swooning over the reversible nylon/rabbit-fur, hooded vest by June (a mere $575). Don’t worry, they have lots of Unreal Fur—yep, that means faux—coming in soon.
ALSO LOOK FOR… A brown J.O.A. mid-calf skirt with long fringe (wearable by this editor, even at five-foot-four!) and the best bell-bottoms in town. Made by McGuire, they’re frayed at the bottom, so you can cut off for a custom length.
The Girl Next Door
69 Village Square, Cross Keys
As Cross Keys gets ready to celebrate its 50th birthday, the team at Ruth Shaw and The Girl Next Door are keeping it fresh for fashionistas of all ages.
STORE PICK: Maureen Gold gives off an effortless Meg Ryan vibe as she lounges above in IRO Jeans and an embroidered top by The Great, a new line by former celeb stylists Emily Current and Meritt Elliott. “There are no more rules when it comes to denim,” says store owner Ray Mitchener. “Mix, match, wear light or dark, all season long.”
ALSO LOOK FOR… “Helmut Lang is back with a vengeance,” adds Mitchener. “True to the original, but better quality than we’ve seen in years.” Plus: sweaters galore by The Row, Organic and Candela.
5100 Falls Road, Cross Keys
Shopping at Octavia is an occasion—and Betsy Brooks Wendell carries on her grandmother’s tradition of dressing well-heeled women for special events.
STORE PICK: Jumpsuits! “They’re so easy to pull off, but people go wild when you wear them,” says Wendell, who stocks basic black and funky prints year-round. Her current obsession: the flowy, curve-hugging styles by former bodywear designer Elana Kattan.
ALSO LOOK FOR… Perfectly draped knits in soft, stretch fabric by mother/daughter design duo Clara Sunwoo. Hoda and Kathie Lee are, like, obsessed with them.(But so’s Jane Fonda.) Show a little skin—try the cold-shoulder tunic.
10435 Stevenson Road
Lisa Jarrett—beloved by the private school set for her uber-preppy prints—has evolved her design aesthetic, adding boho-inspired styles to the classic staples at her Stevenson Village boutique.
STORE PICK: Lisa/Liza is all about being “denim-friendly” this season with cotton blouses and tunics that pair well with jeans. Her faves: The Gretchen in red paisley (with gold buttons) and The Isabelle, featuring a high ruffled collar.
ALSO LOOK FOR… We like the cropped Ralston Greek Key poncho (at right) and The Avery blouse in army-green ikat.
7701 Bellona Ave., Ruxton
“Blame global warming, but there’s no such thing as pre-fall in Baltimore any-more,” says JG Sassy store manager Hiltie Gormley, who keeps the cashmere tucked away until nearly Labor Day. “Our customers love coming in for sale items they’ve craved all summer and want to wear into October.” (We’re guilty.)
STORE PICK: Gormley and her colleague, Lauren Miller, model two ways to dress up—and down—their favorite JOE’S flare jeans. Seriously, it’s all about denim this season, people.
ALSO LOOK FOR… “Flattering dresses for all body types,” says Miller. Think fit-and-flares by Shoshana, drop-waisted numbers in fun prints by BCBG and Joie, and her fave LBD: the boxy Jasneah admiral crepe shift dress by Theory with short sleeves, mock-neck and pockets,
1021 W. 36th St., Hampden
Leslie Jennings fills her second-floor boutique with retro-inspired fashions that have a little edge—and sales gals who don’t … at least when it comes to their super-sweet customer service.
STORE PICK: Faking it is fashionable with Jennings’ cruelty-free offerings, like the vegan suede ensemble seen on the oppo-site page. She’s also crushing on darling new dresses by re:named and English Factory, featuring flirty Victorian details or Valentino-esque patterns.
ALSO LOOK FOR… Made-in-Baltimore merch! We love the totes and cosmetics bags by Sarah Templin of Radica Textiles, and Jenny Holbrook’s new jewelry line, Pearlswirl, featuring materials sourced from flea markets and broken jewelry.
Poppy and Stella
728 Broadway, Fells Point
When we pop by Poppy and Stella in Fells, marketing manager Alli Baldwin is serving homemade pumpkin bread with spiced (and spiked!) apple cider. “I know what my ladies like,” she says with a laugh, preparing for a Hobo trunk show.
STORE PICK: “We love ‘shoeties’ (that’s a shoe/boot hybrid),” says Baldwin, point-ing out the black “Yorktown” [see oppo-site page] by Corso Como, one of several comfort brands they carry. “See how it scoops low in the front? That elongates the leg, unlike more rugged, menswear-inspired styles. Shoeties are a great way to dip your toe into wearing boots with skirts and dresses.”
ALSO LOOK FOR… A sweet selection of short Frye boots for those of you, er, us who can’t fit into the brand’s extended-calf options. Baldwin’s pick: The Ray Belted with pointed toes and cut-outs.
1005 W. 36th St., Hampden
“There’s a movement to make free-trade clothing that’s also fashion-forward,” says Kimree Perrone, who hand-picks globally inspired garments, accessories and gifts for her colorful boutique.
STORE PICK: The new dresses by Mata Traders (seen above) are utterly date-night-worthy—and help moms around the world. Sewn by members of women’s cooperatives in India and Nepal, their work is a way out of poverty for them and their families.
ALSO LOOK FOR… Hammered brass and silver jewelry in geometric shapes that Perrone makes herself in the Milagro studio. Some are super-long and sexy.
805 Aliceanna St., Harbor East
Sassanova is small but mighty, offering a beautifully edited selection of the most-wanted designers (a la Ted Baker, Ella Moss, Lilly Pulitzer) with a few surprises.
STORE PICK: Sales associate Savannah DeFontes covets Trina Turk’s classic-with-a-twist new fall line.
ALSO LOOK FOR… This writer may not be able to live without the port Harlem Fringe top with plunging-V neckline and sheer back by Yoana Baraschi. If only I were brave enough to wear the short romper from the same collection!