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It’s no secret: I love shopping! I also believe in looking your best (and that is totally subjective) every day. You never know when you will be making that one first impression when you will run into an old friend (or boyfriend!) or that feeling that you are ready to conquer the world with confidence, even when if you are permanently #WFH, as I am. Although I am working from home, I still spend a lot of my day on Zoom, or Teams, or on Facetime and it is a non-negotiable for us to present well. I also feel like my work would be sloppy if I weren’t looking my personal best.
Fortunately, the global pandemic pushed the fashion envelope into a new definition of casual wear. What exactly was “loungewear” three years ago? It certainly wasn’t defined as it is today. Casual, lounge, and “athleisure” have dominated our wardrobes for the past few years and that doesn’t seem to be changing. I like how we are now skilled at blending this look with our existing wardrobe pieces, former work attire, and edgy, trendy statement pieces to create an individualized look. I love mixing the old with the new; classics, vintage, upscale with Target; downtown with down on the farm; and of course, to accessorize everything.
Full disclosure: Throughout college and immediately afterward I worked for a small chain of northern Westchester stores as an accessories buyer and although the company is long gone, it was a destination for years and shaped my style and taste to this day. I always look to replicate that small boutique shopping experience when I travel and visit new places. I will never recover from the end of the classic department store era of my childhood (think B.Altman, John Wanamaker, Macy’s on Mamaroneck Avenue, the old Lord & Taylor with the Birdcage, Marshall Field’s, etc), I am heartened to see the survival and revival of local emporiums and even pop-ups. Hope springs eternal!
I have shopped throughout the pandemic; in-person wherever and whenever possible, and online, in accordance with the meme, “There are really only two types of days in quarantine: days packages come and days packages don’t come,” and my husband’s quip with every package: “I guess I have to keep working to keep up with package delivery.” The Hudson Valley has so many great shops that one could almost make a shopping trip out of a visit to one town at a time. There is so much creativity and ingenuity, high-end designers, affordable chic, rustic, ethnic, minimalist — the categories and selection are endless. I am gravitating lately, however, to affordable, fun, ageless style that can be mixed and matched for all occasions and tastes. On my travels (always “out and about”) I found a few fun boutiques — most new, one re-imagined — that are worth checking out this winter.
Rhododendron (also known as Rhoda) is not brand new, but it had a re-branding during the pandemic and is a bright, airy, cheery apparel and accessory staple in the heart of the Wheeler Avenue shopping district in Pleasantville. The vibe is hip, cool, and somehow manages to successfully bridge the gap between mother and daughter with styles for all ages, sizes, and tastes. When I was there the manager was very friendly and welcoming, very present, but not at all intrusive and that made shopping especially pleasant. The shop is very organized, priced to sell, and there are styled outfits throughout for those who appreciate the guidance and inspiration. On a weekday morning, there were shoppers of all ages browsing and buying, and it felt like a place that knows and buys intentionally and carefully for their customers.
73 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville
Sunday 11 am-5 pm, Monday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm
I had been hearing a lot about Versona and thought it was a private boutique. It is in one of the outward-facing storefronts at the re-imagined Jefferson Valley Mall. It is a spacious, bright, and easy-to-navigate clothing and accessory boutique with lots to take in as soon as you enter. The vibe is cool, hip, and trendy, but dig a little deeper and there are plenty of classics, basics, and choices for most ages to mix and match. The manager was accessible and relatable, friendly, and available, but not a hoverer. Turns out that Versona is not a one-off, but a chain of more than 100 locations around the country, but one of only 2 in New York State. Versona is known for affordable fashion, with numerous private labels as well as designer and name brands for the savvy customer with a distinct style, and a budget. There is a robust selection of darling inexpensive gift items and small accessories for every occasion as well. Versona is at the mall, but it definitely doesn’t feel like you are in a mall.
650 Lee Blvd, Yorktown Heights
Monday-Thursday 11 am-7 pm, Friday & Saturday 10 am-8 pm
Pink Olive is a darling gift and home accessory boutique on Main Street in Cold Spring. It is full of imagination, sparkle, bright light and is a feast for the eyes. The vibe is friendly and happy, and there is a “stay a while” feel as soon as you open the door. This is good because there is so much to see and enjoy that it takes a while to embrace it all. It is the quintessential spot for the unique gift for every occasion, letterpress cards, regional artisan products, jewelry, accessories, art, and so much more. I discovered on my first visit that Pink Olive has two more locations in the East and West Village. One of their best-kept secrets is their Concierge Service where Pink Olive, after receiving your short questionnaire, will choose the perfect gift for your recipient — ideal for busy beavers, and certainly a perk during a global pandemic. If beautiful living is your jam, Pink Olive is a must-go.
80 Main St, Cold Spring
Monday-Sunday 11 am-6 pm
The Lounge House
The Lounge House is a recent addition to the eclectic Peekskill downtown. It is a bright contemporary boutique with an emphasis on all things lounge (apparel and accessories), but there is plenty of versatility and options to mix and match for the non-WFH work crowd. A staple at The Lounge House is their candles, which are essentials in my life, so I gravitate toward any shop that stocks this necessity. My personal favorite is the fuchsia Roman bust candle (@mommadecandle). There is no doubt that the owners have their finger on the pulse of the lounge crowd and their selections are sure to be Zoom-worthy. The vibe is very cool and youthful (“A millennial’s playhouse” to be sure), but when I was there the shoppers were all ages and styles, so I believe there is something for everyone at The Lounge House.
922 Main St, Peekskill
Sunday 11 am -5 pm, Monday-Tuesday Closed, Wednesday-Friday 11 am-6 pm, Saturday 10 am-6 pm
Launch Boutique, another new shop that found a home in the former traditional Jefferson Valley Mall, is a recently “launched” contemporary specialty apparel and accessory shop for casual, cool suburban women. There is an emphasis on affordability, a focus on American-made fashion, and an eclectic mix of casual, fun, and on-trend merchandise by brands that are well known for quality and relatability. The staff here is also accessible and friendly but gives shoppers space to browse and explore. The selection includes staples, chunky sweaters, black pants, jeans, great bags, and an array of trendy, fun graphic tops, jackets, and cardigans for all ages and sizes. The recently re-launched website is robust and an easy-to-navigate alternative but I loved stopping in to see the creatively styled ensembles, chat with staff, and find some unique pieces to complement my #WFH wardrobe.
650 Lee Blvd, Yorktown Heights
Open 7 days 11 am-7 pm
Born and raised in Westchester, Nancy Sorbella's lifestyle stories have been featured in several local and regional publications where she has also been a style and community columnist. She is the resident wordsmith for the Arthritis Foundation of NY and the Community Engagement Director by day, spending her free time exploring and experiencing the Hudson Valley. Follow Nancy for more of her adventures on Instagram @DetoursColumnist, Twitter @jsorbella, or on Facebook at Nancy Niskin Sorbella.
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