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April 20, 2010

Souchi: Lovely Little Surprises


Souchi organic cotton cardi – I’m getting a custom made one of my very own!

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When I say I never win anything, it really was true… until now.  Last Thursday I went to a store event at one of my favorite boutiques in Portland.  Souchi is the place to get the most luxurious hand-loomed knitwear.  I’m not kidding when I say you’ll want to sleep in a Souchi cashmere sweater because the prospect of waking up in it is just so delicious!

Anyway, I jumped at the chance to mingle with other devotees and take advantage of 15% off.  The icing on the cake was when I won the drawing for an organic cotton cardigan.  Oh sweet luck! 

Suzi Johnson is the lovely and amazing designer behind the brand.  She creates elegant knitwear that will stay in style for as long as you own it… and you’ll own a Souchi sweater for a long, long time.  Each piece is timeless and is made with the highest quality yarns – as a knitter, I am an absolute believer in buying the best yarn you can afford.  With most of us being extremely judicious about how we spend our money, Suzi’s knitwear is the perfect example of how you can spend a little more on the one perfect piece and wear it far more than things that cost much less.

If you don’t live in Portland, fear not.  Souchi has an online store, where you can also find amazing under-the-radar designers.  I had to leave the store with an adorable embroidered romper by Sea NY. 


Sea NY romper – I have one of my very own!

If someone would have told me I’d buy a romper, I would have said, “Oh hell naw!”  But I did and I’m so glad because I LOVE.  And that’s the beauty of finding a little boutique like Souchi.  You find the unexpected and you feel like you made out just right. 


Frances May - My New BFF
December 15 | Shop Local

Have you ever had a friend who had the best wardrobe?  The one who knew exactly what to wear whatever the occasion and always looked a little bit retro, a little bit ahead-of-the-curve and all around awesome?  I have a new friend just like that and her name is Frances May.

Frances Mayes
Surface2Air Wedge
Inside Frances May in Portland's West End

Perhaps it’s a bit unhealthy to have a girl-crush on a boutique but I’m not apologizing.  Frances May carries labels you won’t find anywhere else in Portland from A.P.C. to Rachel Comey.  Plus, there’s a great selection of jewelry and a nicely stocked men’s section as well.

Pamela Baker-Miller owns Frances May, along with her grandmother, (how cool is her grandmother?) and blends an easy-going friendliness with a sharp eye for what’s happening in fashion to make for a shopping experience that’s as effortless as looking for something to wear in your best friend’s closet.

Pam at Frances May

The stock at Frances may reflects much of Pam’s own style and what appeals to her.  Her two "can’t live without items" are Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers and cardigans for their simplicity and timeless appeal.  She also likes to invest in quality pieces that will go the distance.

Pam is originally from Northern California and studied art in NYC, but now loves Portland for its easy livability, great food and supportive atmosphere.  I'm so glad she brought Frances May here.  Even if you don’t live in Portland , you can shop Frances May online.  You definitely want to make this boutique your new BFF. 

Thank you to Pam for taking the time to chat with Fashion Vice!

Frances May View


Tiny Baubles: A Fresh Perspective
October 12, 2009 | Shop Local

Lately, I’ve taken a keen interest in improving my jewelry stash.  It is the single easiest, wallet friendly way to brighten up an outfit.  Plus, it can push you to experiment a bit, allowing you to find a whole new direction to take your everyday look.

Bird Locket Bird Locket
Feather and key lariat and swallow dark brass locket from Freshy Fig

Etsy is a fantastic resource for one-of-a-kind jewelry, and one Etsy store that offers fun, whimsical and eco-conscious designs is Freshy Fig.  Portland designer Amanda Senten is the one woman show behind Freshy Fig and her charming - figuratively and literally - jewelry will quickly win you over.  I had a lovely email chat with Amanda about her designs and about fashion in general.

FV: Where do you find inspiration?

Amanda: I find inspiration in the strangest of places.  I almost never know when an idea will hit me. Perusing vintage stores and feedback from fellow Etsians and friends is where I look for inspiration if it hasn't come to me.   I also love the 70's era.  The use of color and bright heavy patterns is very uplifting.  I love bold color.

FV: Sustainability seems to be important in your work.  How did you decide this was the direction you wanted to take in your jewelry collection?

Amanda: The cheesy answer: I am a nature lover and avid recycler of all things.  But, truly I find it ridiculous that companies use huge envelopes and tons of bubble wrap to ship one small item.  I don't want to partake in that.  So, I try to re-use packaging, baggies, boxes and paper whenever I can. 
As for the portion of my jewelry line that is recycled, I took a love for refreshing vintage early on.  My mom had a massive collection of jewelry and when I was little I used to sneak into her room and try everything on, leaving it in shambles when I was finished.  Her brooches were always my favorite but I always poked myself while putting them on.  So I decided that the horrible pins must go!  That's how my re-purposed vintage began.  Wearing a one of a kind vintage rhinestone encrusted leaf pendant or layered mixed metal chain necklace is priceless.

FV: Do you have a distinct personal style or do you draw from lots of different references?

Amanda: My style preference is to mix the old with the new, the expensive with the inexpensive.  Anthropologie is my fave fancy store while Fringe PDX is my go-to vintage shop.  A few of my favorite eclectic, local boutiques are Moxie and Pin-Me Apparel.      

FV: What are three accessories you can't live without?

Amanda: My dark red vintage heels.  Also, I'm really digging necklaces more than earrings lately... so I'd have to say a long necklace.  Long necklaces can fix almost any outfit or day when you have to roll out of bed and out the door.  I try to tell myself that it takes attention away from an unmade face!  Does blush count as an accessory?        

(FV: Why, yes… yes it does.)

Many thanks to Amanda of Freshy Fig.  Portland shoppers can find her jewelry at Moxie, Soho and Relish Boutiques.  Fashion Vice is going to focus more on Portland shopping in the coming months, so get in on the action no matter where you live by shopping online when you can.  


Vintage for the Stylish Girl
October 22, 2006
| Favorite Things

When I find a fantastic place to shop, my first inclination is to keep it to myself.  Selfish, I know, but I don’t care.  Lately, I have developed an aversion to shopping so when I do have a good experience, I don’t want to screw the pooch and let the whole world in on my secret. 

But in this case, I feel it’s my duty to sing the praises of my favorite vintage boutique.  It’s just that good.  And by good I mean the best.

My favorite vintage store in portland

Xtabay is a multi-faceted gem on Clinton Street .  Opened in 2001, owner Liz Gross has worked hard to offer the best collection of vintage clothes and accessories in Portland and it shows.  Liz named her store after an Yma Sumac album about Xtabay, “the most elusive of all women.”  Liz was taken by the exotic album cover and built her boutique around the idea of offering luxury to elusive women everywhere.

Vintage Fashion

Vintage Design

you'll find stylish inspirations throughout Xtabay

Often shopping vintage can be hit or miss, both in inventory and atmosphere.  Liz made sure her place was different.  She says, “I was tired of shopping at vintage stores that smelled like Nag Champa and mold… I wanted my shop to be beautiful and glamorous. Give people a taste of champagne even if they are on a beer bottle budget.” 

The clothes at Xtabay are in excellent condition.  For the most part, the racks are organized by color and there is a sitting area in the middle of the store where you can get a close up look at some of the jewelry, many of which are made by Liz from vintage charms.  Every shelf and every corner has something on display, but it never feels cluttered. 

Liz keeps the store like the well-edited closet of your most fashionable friend. The one who you'd like to borrow from every chance you get. Liz's style influences range from Audrey Hepburn to Little Edie Beale to the waitresses at the bar next door.  I asked Liz what vintage pieces have eluded her so far and she replies that she dreams of estate sales filled with vintage Balenciaga, Dior and Yves St. Laurent.  Girl, call me if that ever happens!

xtabay owner Liz Gross

There are many reasons why I shop vintage.  Besides finding beautful items at a fraction of what you’d pay at a retail store, vintage is a way to buy well-made clothes that just don’t exist at the mass market level. 

These days so many designers are inspired by vintage.  Miss Davenporte, Jovovich-Hawke and Mayle, to name a few, have more than a passing influence from vintage.  Why not get the real deal and put your own spin on it?  I’m glad I’m sewing now so I can make adjustments to garments and truly make a vintage piece my own. Imagine a little individuality in a Wal-Mart world.




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