STYLE POINTS: A LOOK AT SOME WINE COUNTRY FASHION TRENDSETTERS
You don't have to be a fashionista to make a style statement in Sonoma County.
Those country duds with a lot of bling? They don't cut it anymore. Around these parts, we're into non-fussy style. And that's the joy of living here. You can throw on a pair of jeans and a tailored blazer, some high-tech Nike running shoes or a pair of vintage cowboy boots and still feel like a million bucks.
Even if you're just going to the post office.
"I have a lot of dressy apparel, but here, I don't have a lot of reason to wear it," said Kate Morison, owner of the Looking Glass boutique in Healdsburg. "I like to take dressier items and dress them down."
Not that there aren't occasions to bring out the 1940s cashmere cardigan and feathered mini-skirt. Locals often favor vintage dresses and shoes, local designer duds and "festival wear," a la Burning Man, when they go out to a club to dance and party with friends.
Here is a look at some of the styling young trend-setters we spotted, from Petaluma to Healdsburg.
The Looking Glass in Healdsburg may be the only boutique with a champagne bar in the back. But that's not the only classy touch.
Co-owners Andrea "Andy" Barrett, 36, and Kate Morison, 39, stock the store like they fill their own closets, with timeless pieces you can return to, season after season.
"I love modern classics," said Barrett, who is married to Tod Brilliant, communications director of the Post Carbon Institute in Santa Rosa. "It's a piece that you can pull blindly from your closet, and it will look good with whatever you're wearing."
Barrett can't live without her navy, cotton-wool knit jacket from Rag & Bone, a New York line inspired by classic British tailoring.
"I can wear that every season, and dress it up and down," she said. "I call it investment dressing."
The Mill Valley native, who has been thrifting since high school, likes to pair modern pieces with one or two vintage items.
"One of the key things is being able to mix the finer clothing with everyday reality," she said. "I love my vintage cowboy boots."
Morison, a native of Ohio, was drawn to fashion through her entrepreneurial spirit. The petite blonde started out sewing and making quilts. She opened her first boutique in Boston in 1999.
Her own wardrobe is a crazy-quilt mixture of prints. On a wintry afternoon, she topped a pair of jeans with a crisp, Liberty Cotton print shirt and beige scarf.
"I'm wild about prints, and I always wear dresses," she said. "I like to take dressier items and dress them down."
The business partners first met in in 2003, after Morison had married winemaker Ames Morison of Medlock-Ames and moved to Healdsburg. Barrett, who was managing a boutique, helped Morison pick out a top.
"Andrea was the first person I actually listened to," Morison said. "I tried it on, and I was totally happy with it. I've worn it hundreds of times."
Shopping parties, such as the first annual Absolutely Fabulous, Hung-Over New Year's Day Sale and Party, have put the boutique on the map. San Francisco Racked recently gave it a nod as one of the Top 38 Essential Bay Area Shopping Experiences. (sf.racked.com)
"People come in and say, 'Champagne and shopping?!'"
-- Diane Peterson
It's a step back in time for Marissa Patrick, 32, the owner of Chick-A Boom Vintage Clothing in Petaluma. The bold fashionista wears many of the same retro styles she buys and sells in her store. On this particular day, she's sporting an outfit straight out of the 1940s, from her felt pencil skirt and robin's-egg blue cashmere cardigan to the hat adorned with a sparrow and feathers on her coifed hair. Her 1940s lace-up high heel pumps finish off her classy and edgy style.
"I don't like to label myself, but I guess a lot of people would describe what I wear as rockabilly," Patrick said, noting a style that was popular in the 1950s when the fusion of rock 'n' roll and hillbilly music created the rockabilly movement. For women, rockabilly is also referred to as pin-up girl fashion, the same style the iconic Bettie Page was famous for wearing.
Patrick has her grandmother, a seamstress at I. Magnin department store in the 1940s, to thank for her original sense of style. Inspired by her vast collection of vintage clothing, Patrick became an avid collector of clothes that span the 1930s to 1950s while she was in college.
Of all the classic clothes Patrick owns, one particular piece stands out above the rest. It's a pink ballgown embellished with ostrich feathers, from the 1920s, her favorite outfit.
"It's very Jean Harlow," Patrick said with a laugh. Admittedly, she has only been able to wear this outfit twice.