These are stressful, chaotic times. I find that when I’m at my worst, it calms me to look at fashion and see amazing women who are continuing to live their lives despite this horrible pandemic. Queen Letizia of Spain is my stylish savior here, providing hope that life can go on in a beautiful houndstooth skirt and a mask. 2020 will pass, but thank goodness we can all find a little happiness and calming routine in dressing for the day.
Madewell, the stylish brand that focuses on all things denim, has opened its doors in the spot vacated by Louis Vuitton at La Encantada…..and none too soon! The new digs are a welcome addition to Tucson’s most beautiful shopping mall, along with West Elm. In the company’s own words, “a good day starts with great jeans,” so Madewell focuses on everything to make you look hot in them — including tops, dresses, accessories and more. Madewell is the chief moneymaker for parent J. Crew, which is working to emerge from bankruptcy, so this store needs our support!
Though brick and mortar stores have reopened, the pandemic has truly made buyers rethink how they purchase clothes, as well as, almost everything else. Clearly, there’s no comparison between having beautiful outfits shown to you online while you drink wine and wear pajamas vs. driving on bad roads to a mall and smothering yourself in hand sanitizer before entering.
Enter two awesome Arizona boutiques that are gaining a lot of stylish momentum on Instagram and Facebook.
Four Halos Boutique and Cashmere + Coco Boutique are two of my friend Sara’s fave new online spots to shop. In fact, every time she wears anything from these two boutiques, she always gets compliments and is a big supporter of them – as she is for everyone! Run by hardworking women, these are two cute places to check out online.
With tragic new headlines every day about stores closing their doors — Lord & Taylor, SteinMart, Century 21– Charming Charlie has launched an online comeback after declaring bankruptcy and having to shutter doors a few years ago.
My family and I first fell in love with Charming Charlie stores in Texas, so when the store opened a location in Tucson Mall, it was the place to go for cute clothes, accessories and gifts. The store’s color-organized clothing also made it really easy to find outfits for football games. You’d be seriously surprised how difficult it is to find CUTE RED CLOTHING for Arizona football games in this town. (Not that I have to worry about that this year – 2020 slowly killing me…)
But anyway, check out the store online! Some very cute clothes, good prices and even the masks are unique!
Winky Lux, the campy cosmetics brand founded in 2015 by two friends, is a nice little surprise at Target stores these days! The fun brand known for its flower petal-infused lip balms used to be purchased only at Nordstrom and other high-end boutiques, but now is widely available to our T-town masses. According to the brand’s website: “Winky Lux was born with the idea that since every beauty product is technically a little gift, from you to you, it should always look and feel as special as the person receiving it (who is also you).” Genius!
One of the first things you notice about Ashley La Russa’s Facebook page is her positive, ambitious drive to make things happen.
Founder of Tucson’s Roux Events LLC and the dynamic force behind #BlaxFriday, La Russa often posts her activities each week – all focused on community progress. The beautiful, accompanying illustrations by Afro-French artist Nicholle Kobi only confirm that this vibrant woman is on the move.
“Roux Events was founded in 2019 with the primary focus of supporting community leaders and organizations that value equity, diversity and inclusion,” she said. “Roux Events is an event management company that serves as a foundation for collaboration within our community.”
A graduate of Sam Houston State University in Texas, La Russa was invited to Tucson in 2008 after meeting the artistic director of Arizona Theatre Company when she was an intern in Florida. She accepted the position of assistant state manager and devoted a decade to the group, serving in several capacities there.
“I fell in love with Tucson within the first week of moving here,” said La Russa. “The pink and lavender sunsets are remarkable with the backdrop of the mountains. Tucson also has a wealth of culture based in Tohono O’odham and Sonoran traditions. Proud to live in the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy and enjoy delicious dishes from world-renowned chefs.”
Notably, she picked the name “Roux” for her company because in culinary terms, it’s the essential base of butter and flour that enriches many Creole dishes with hearty flavor and texture – a strong foundation for a successful result.
And Roux Events is successfully bringing projects like “BlaxFriday to the public forefront. “As a Black woman-owned business, we started #BlaxFriday to spotlight local Black-owned businesses” that have traditionally been ignored and unrecognized. Besides a kickoff event earlier this summer, La Russa has helped engineer a BlaxFriday app and hopes to expand into Phoenix too. She consistently uses her social media to promote numerous burgeoning businesses here.
All the while, she is also working to create stand-out events. “The key to creating a memorable event is the experience,” she said. “This could be achieved by theatrical productions, connections with new community members and swag. Swag is a must. Everyone loves a goodie bag filled with surprises and gifts.”
More recently because of the pandemic, she is adding the “digital experience” to her portfolio, as “…the virtual event space is booming,” La Russa said.
“While we are unable to meet in large gatherings for events, this time has truly shaped my mindset to value positivity and advocacy. The things that used to bother me or stifle progress are now pushed aside to allow the abundance of blessed guidance.”
I bet Meghan Markle would have appreciated this stylish new invention the day she attended Wimbledon with Duchess Kate a few years ago. The former Duchess of Sussex carried a beautiful hat, which I think she intended to wear, only to hold onto it the entire time. Well, I can thank my friend Karen for sending me this brainchild of stylist Lindsay Albanese, lindsayalbanese.com. Albanese has launched Top Tote to solve the summer hat-carrying problem. The swag little clip ingeniously snaps your hat onto your purse for easy toting. The Top Tote comes in several different styles and ranges in price from $48 to $59.
Pacifica Beauty is among the myriad vegan beauty brands that adorn the shelves of Ulta, Sprouts and other retailers, but now seems more popular than ever. I have found more than a few Pacifica products that function just as well as more expensive versions. Launched in the late 1990s by Brook Harvey-Taylor, who grew up on a Montana cattle ranch, the brand is popular with our Gen Zers—which is how Pacifica first crossed my radar. A birthday present last year included a Rose Flower face mist that actually felt gentle and hydrating, as opposed to other sprays that can be drying. (I will never forget sitting in a doctor’s office with my kids as they kept staring at my face. Finally, they asked why my skin was peeling off. Yep, it was from another rose facial spray!) I have since bought the eyeshadow palettes for friends and recently tried the Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream. All good – no skin peeling. Pandemic got you down? LIKE, UNDERSTATEMENT! Pacifica might be a fun brand to try right now.
In these pandemic times, you can always count on the creativity of people in their attempts to make required protective wear for the masses as stylish as possible. So many retailers are selling masks, from embellished to streamlined. Truly, the choices are endless.
In that spirit, I’d like to feature one of my favorite mask vendors on Etsy–HappyStarla. Since March, I have made three different purchases of her cloth masks–adding to her more than 15,000 sales. These masks are gentle on the face and ears and come in camouflage, leopard, polka dot, lace, metallic and bright color versions. They are also machine washable. While not the best choice for high-intensity exercise or humid climates, the HappyStarla masks are a fun choice right now.