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April 17, 2014
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The Hip Mom Checks Out Tulsa's Boutiques

Ah, fall in Tulsa: the melancholy golden afternoon light; the bright, crisp mornings; the red and orange gossamer drifting gently off the trees and, oh, yeah, the carpooling that never ends. What with the soccer, piano, baby ballet and play dates, mommy coming up for air doesn’t happen very often. And shopping? Hah!  Shopping for myself has a priority of about negative 15 on a 1 to 10 scale. But, then, one morning in October, I feel a strange sensation — I actually shiver a bit! Wow. I look down, and realize that, yes, I am still wearing the $19.99 little cotton sundress from Target that I wore all summer long – so comfortable was it, practical and not hideous-looking when my sole activities were sweating and wiping tushies. But it’s easy to get into a rut where you just throw a cute top into the cart, along with the Purina and eggs, without really thinking how it could work into your wardrobe. 

There is still nothing like perusing a well-edited collection of jeans, dresses, purses and baubles live, seeing how things look together, getting some feedback from experts, and trying on something you normally wouldn’t.

I’m talking about shopping in a real live, not big box store. Surely Tulsa has some nice little local bodegas to explore!

Of course shopping for me usually involves a kid or three. But with my boys in school, I am able to take just my girls, who at ages 3 and 1 are already much better shoppers than their brothers. But, this scenario still entails baby girls sprawled out on dressing room floors, Sylvie careening about like a drunken sorority girl as she tries out her new walking legs, nervous shop ladies monitoring their inventory, and Lucky Charms strewn about. So I am allotted about 12 minutes in each store - we moms have to make critical retail decisions fast. 

Our first stop is Bella Dames at 59th and Lewis – one of the few local boutiques I could find within shouting distance of the south end of town. What fun merchandise they have! Crazy cute purses strewn with persimmon, turquoise and gold-hued paisleys; funky, bling-embellished flip flops (oh, I do love loud flip flops – I think you can get away with flip flops 11 months out of the year here – just throw them on and go!) And the dresses! I found this leopard-striped dress for just about $100 – so I splurge to wear it to a friend’s birthday dinner.

Their collection of cowboy boots is impressive – while I still don’t own a pair (I’m afraid I’ll be an official Okie if I don cowboy boots), I will definitely come here to buy my first cowgirl footwear. Everything in the store is just trendy, slightly outrageous and a bit wink, wink – you won’t find understated navy suits for your day job as a bean counter here. The owners JoAnn and Amanda are friendly and helpful, and even watch my girls while I race around the store – now that’s some top tier service. And of course, you can follow the store on Facebook to keep up with all their latest shipments. 

Then I drag the girls down to Cherry Street where there are several top tier boutiques I’d even show off to my sophisticated East Coast sister. Rope, at 1619 East 15th, is a light and airy spot with breathtaking dresses, gorgeous jeans and seductive jewelry. The owner, lissome Laura Scott, worked at an upscale boutique in Boulder, Colorado, and returned home to open her own store here, which features up and coming designers from around the world to “Tulsa’s discerning shopper.”

Laura had just returned from a spring buying expedition in New York City. Ah! Clothes from NYC, here in Tulsa. Even imagining that the frocks might have spent a bit of time hanging out in a Soho storefront lends a sexy aura to all of the merchandise, don’t you think? Rope offers a mix of high end brands, from Earnest Sewn jeans to a French line called Iro.

I found this delicious Cynthia Steffe dress splattered with deep emeralds and golds, like the late harvest rainbow in a pumpkin patch. Here, too, you can find gorgeous lingerie by a local duo of sisters, Arin Robinson and Jessie Zinke of Zinke Intimates. Their pieces are so unusual: peek-a-boo lacy chemises, hipsters and “bralettes,” in sophisticated hues like rust, cream and coral. Contrast that to your typical bubble gum pink Victoria’s Secret offerings.

Our next stop is Little Black Dress at 35th and Peoria in Brookside. Here owner Kelly Mize offers an urbane collection of dresses, jeans, jewels, coats and other accessories. With a toddler hanging off my calf, I try on a few of the early holiday arrivals. This Roman-esque gladiator dress is something that if I saw online, I would pass up as too asymmetrical for someone with my dwarfy height. I try it on anyway – and am surprised that it looks pretty good! Laura only buys one size of each dress, so you are going to be pretty sure you are the only one at the schmancy PTA fundraiser wearing your dress. Alas, at $340, the only event to which I could wear this fetching frock is the Open House that I will host as soon as I win Powerball. There are more affordable offerings, though – and definitely many things worth the occasional splurge. This time, though, I content myself with a fun FNO T-shirt.  I may never go to Fashion’s Night Out in New York City, but I can at least pretend that I went when I wear this. Or at least know what it is. 

Finally, I check out Resurrect Boutique, back on Cherry Street at 1631 E 15th. Resurrect is a “high end” consignment store. While I admit I’ve always been a bit of a squeamish snob about consignment stores, with new clothes costing what they do, I figure it’s worth a look. And wow! The clothes are definitely opulent. The shoes alone are like a line up straight out of Vogue: Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Christian Louboutins. I try on a pair of bow-adorned Valentino pumps and a diaphanous La Lame dress that is my attempt at a “holiday look for less.” While the dress is lovely and a mere $100, the shoes are $200 – so much for getting out with a steal! But if you love labels in near-mint condition, you must check out the offerings from Resurrect. We continue to fondle the furs and funky knick knackery and then – lo! My daughter spies a room of vintage kiddie outfits. So for a mere $30, Colette walks out with an adorable pink dress. And we find a $9 Hello Kitty lamp that she just has to have. 

Phew, I can manage that! Now, if you actually have some nice things to sell, Resurrect will take your (nice, not stained, probably not Old Navy or Gap!) clothing and split proceeds when your item sells, 60 percent for Resurrect and 40 percent for you. And if it doesn’t sell within 90 days, your clothing will become Resurrect’s inventory unless you pick it up.

Ah, the girls and I had a great time shopping. But I don’t think I’ll be able to bring my daughters out for “field work” when they’re old enough to know how fantabulous that Tory Burch tote is.

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