As a graduate of the University of Georgia, I will always have an indescribably special place in my heart for Athens, GA (I know all fellow dawgs will agree). Athens has the highest concentration of culture per square mile of any town I’ve ever visited. Within a five mile radius of the downtown area you can dine at some of the best restaurants in the nation and shop at some of the highest caliber boutiques. Athens is also home to amazing spas and salons, quaint local bars and breweries, beautifully curated museums, intimate venues, and more. I could probably write a book praising all of the attractions in Athens, but in this City Hot Spot post, I will keep my focus on the fashion.
The fashion in Athens spans from high-end boutiques carrying top designer names to sustainable boutiques showcasing vintage and hand-made wares. It would be impossible to name just one fashion hot spot to visit in Athens. So, I’m breaking the shops down into four categories.
BEST LUXURY BOUTIQUE: Heery’s Clothes Closet
Heery’s has a better selection of top end designers than most department stores. The racks are lined with labels like Tibi, Nanette Lepore, Tory Burch, Milly, and Diane Von Furstenberg just to name a few. For over fifty years, Heery’s has been an essential fixture in the downtown landscape. They’re known for absolutely swoon-worthy window displays. I remember many a night passing Heery’s while bar-hopping and having to restrain myself from pressing my nose to the windows to oogle the new arrivals. If you’re on a budget, Heery’s holds phenomenal sales offering up to 80% off twice a year! But wait, it gets better! Whatever doesn’t sell at the major sales at Heery’s goes to one of their sister stores in Five Points, Four Seasons Fashion. Once the merchandise goes here, it’s up to 90% off! I’ve gotten some absolutely amazing items from these sales at a mere fraction of the retail price. P.S. Shop online here.
BEST EVERY GIRL BOUTIQUE: Encore
You may have seen me feature Encore in a previous post showcasing their Spring 2014 look book. Encore’s carefully curated look books are just one of the things that set this boutique apart from the countless others in the downtown area. Encore carries all the essential brands like Michael Stars, Sam Edelman, Tart, Joes Jeans, and many, many more. Think of this as the ultimate every-girl’s boutique whether you’re looking for the perfect dress or basic denim. Don’t forget your accessories! Encore also has a full line of jewelry, handbags, and other wares. No matter what your style – trendy, preppy, bohemian, classic – Encore has something for you. Encore’s owner Nikki Grant has truly raised the bar for fashion retail in Athens with tactful buying, impressive styling, and a very relatable online presence that appeals to girls of all ages and styles.
BEST SUSTAINABLE BOUTIQUE: Community
Community has added a whole new dimension to the fashion scene in Athens. It is a sustainable boutique situated in my all time favorite space in downtown, right above Jittery Joe’s. Community features vintage apparel and accessories, hand made wares by local artisans, and apparel that is designed in house from vintage pieces. In addition, Community offers sewing and knitting classes, alterations, private shopping parties, and closet consultations. Ultimately, Community has cultivated a place for those interested in the art of fashion design to connect and continue their education. They also demonstrate a strong advocacy for local artisans and sustainable fashion with an emphasis on unique style and impeccable quality. This is truly a carefully curated a one of a kind boutique. P.S. Shop online here and check out their OOTD here!
BEST CONSIGNMENT BOUTIQUE: Suska
You may have seen me feature my favorite consignment boutique in my Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition post back in April. Even though I haven’t lived in Athens for almost three years, this is still where I go to consign my clothes. I’ve yet to find a better consignment boutique in Georgia or elsewhere! Suska is located about two miles outside the downtown in five points. Suska’s owner, Susanna Drennen, founded the boutique in 2005 with a passion for fashion as well as eco-consciousness. She believes that buying second-hand or previously loved items is a great way to recycle, and I couldn’t agree more! Suska is not another Plato’s Closet. They do not give you cash on the spot. Through a methodical process they hand select every garment and research each item through a number of channels to assess its current value, taking into consideration factors like its original retail price, depreciation, and its resale potential. After the 45-day consignment period, you receive 40% of each item’s value in cash or check or 50% of each item’s value in the form of a store credit. Learn more about their process, policies, and how to consign here.
Longer days, warmer temperatures, nature in bloom… Spring is in the air. It’s about that time to rotate your wardrobe, box up those winter items, shift them to the back of the closet, and bring forth the sundresses and shorts. It’s the perfect opportunity to do a little spring cleaning in your closet.
I know that the mere thought of tackling your closet can be overwhelming. The closet, by nature, might not be the most organized place, might be overflowing because your shopping habit is bigger than your rent, and might just seem downright daunting. There’s a reason the closet has a door! It’s an easy space to close off to the mind after you ransack it each morning before work or each weekend before heading out for a night on the town. I promise, if you just carve out a Saturday afternoon and open that door, you’ll find that Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition isn’t so bad (it might even be fun!). If you need a little help getting started and creating a plan of attack, I’ve got 5 tips on how to clean out your closet that might just help!
1. Cultivate Positive Energy
Although the process may be a bit of a pain, the outcome of cleaning out your closet should be rewarding. Remind yourself of the good old phrase, out with the old, in with the new. I’m not saying that you should plan a massive shopping binge after your closet clean out, but the purpose of a seasonal closet cleaning is to make room for the new items your inevitably going to add when a new season rolls around. Another good incentive to clean out your closet is the option to sell or consign your clothes. I spent years being a severe clothes and accessories hoarder. My garments are and always will be an extension of myself, and for years the thought of parting with a single item felt like I’d be chopping off a limb. In college, I finally took the plunge. I went through years and years of clothing and memories. I reminisced and might have even snapped some farewell pics. Then, I loaded up my car and headed to the local consignment store in my college town. After a short 45-day period, I got a major check, and since then, I’ve continued to make some big bucks consigning. The key is finding the right consignment store with the right policies. For a great example of one, check out the consignment store I still continue to use in Athens, GA – Suska is the best!
2. Make a Game Plan
The task of spring cleaning your closet will be a lot less daunting if you make a game plan. First, think about your current lifestyle. Notice I say lifestyle not just style. Your life is a major influence on your style. You may not love sheaths and pencil skirts, but if you work in a corporate environment, these items make up a major part of your wardrobe. Second, get a second opinion. This is particularly important if you’re a first-time closet cleaner. You need a second set of eyes – okay what you really need is someone objective who is not as emotionally attached to your closet as you are. So talk to your roommate, your bff, your sister, or your most fashion forward gay friend, and ask if he/she would be willing to come over next Saturday and talk you off a ledge, should you need to be. A closet cleaning companion will help lighten the mood and keep things fun. Come on! Didn’t you always want to reenact What Not to Wear? You may be on the end where your precious clothing memories are being discarded into a trashcan, but still, now’s your chance!
3. The Big Day: Start Cleaning!
The day is here. Your closet cleaning companion is on the way. Breathe in and out. Put on some upbeat music – something you’d want to strut the catwalk to – light some candles, pour a couple cocktails or drink of choice, be sure there’s good lighting and a full length mirror, and once your consultant arrives, you’re ready to begin! Remember, you’re taking it one season at a time. Should you decide to donate, sell, or consign, only in-season items will be accepted. There! We just eliminated half your closet. We’ll get to the other half in the fall. As you and your consultant go through your closet item by item, there will be pieces you know with 100% certainty you want to keep. For everything else – anything slightly in question, anything rarely worn in the past two years – try it on, and use the following 5 questions to evaluate it:
– Does it have set-in stains?
– Is it damaged/worn?
– Does it fit you?
– Does it fit your current lifestyle?
– Would you still buy it today?
The sixth and final question is the most difficult. You answered NO to stains and damage, you answered YES to fitting you and your current lifestyle, and YES, you would still buy it today. But here’s the kicker: do you actually wear it? This is the toughest and most important question. We all hold on to things in our closet. There’s nothing wrong with them, they fit and look great, but for some reason, we just don’t wear them. These are the items you have to let go, and these are the items that will likely be best to sell or consign. Someone else will not only love them but also wear them.
“Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.” – Marc Jacobs
4. In the Midst of the Mess: You’re Almost There!
I’m going to tell you now, when cleaning out your closet, things will get worse before they get better. About halfway through the process, you and your closet consultant may exit the emotional clothing roller coaster and break for a snack. It’s then you’ll realize you can barely walk across the room because there’s an explosion of clothing and accessories everywhere. There’s a donate pile, a consign pile, a back in the closet pile, a wtf pile, and your consultant has started making a pile for herself. The good news is, this means you’re making progress! While you take a moment to step away from the chaos, consider making a shopping list of voids you’ve noticed in your wardrobe. This will be a good reminder of why you entered this process in the first place: to make room for the new!
5. Final Touches
You’ve gone item by item through your warm weather wardrobe. It’s no small task, but I knew you could do it! Now, it’s time to put what’s staying back in the closet and transport what’s ready to donate or sell. You’ve already put so much time and energy into this endeavor. Don’t just toss everything back in the closet and close that door! Take this time to do a little re-organization. Invest in some closet-organizing accessories from stores like Target, The Container Store, or Ikea, and implement the basic closet organization technique: either by color or by garment type. Next, bag up the donations and gather the items to sell or consign. For the latter items, you’ll need to check the store’s policy if you plan to consign. For example, some consignment stores want items on hangers. If you plan to sell through another outlet like eBay or Bib + Tuck, do your research and take measures to protect yourself as a seller!
I spent this past weekend in Chicago, and of course, I had to make time for a little retail therapy. I ended up trekking around the Southport neighborhood after grocery shopping with a friend, and the Lincoln Park neighborhood near my friend’s apartment. I came upon a number of cool places but there were definitely two front runners in the neighborhoods.
If you’re in Southport, check out Cerato boutique for a mix of local Chicago designers and other awesome brands. There are two Chicago-based designers that caught my eye while browsing Cerato: Sophia Reyes and Alicia Mohr of Ali’s Collection. Cerato’s sampling of Sophia Reyes namesake collection consists of ultra feminine, flowy dresses made of 100% silk. The boutique also has an extensive selection of unique, statement making rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets from Ali’s Collection.
I can’t resist a good consignment shop, and near the corner of Armitage and Halsted, there are a few consignment stores worth hitting up. I snagged a couple gems at Second Time Around (STA). STA doesn’t quite make the cut for Chicago’s City Hot Spot because the consignment company has locations in eleven other states, but my finds are too good not to share. First I found a gray, wool Cartonnier blazer for $25.00. Cartonnier is a staple line at Anthropologie, and they make truly awesome blazers (I should know, I own two others already!). Next I made my find of the day: a double breasted Theory wool military style jacket in the Pantone color of the year, Radiant Orchid! This amazing item was a whopping $60! I must admit, I got these winter goods at such serious steals because all winter merchandise was an additional 50% off (wink, wink Chi Town ladies looking for an awesome winter deal).