Erin Marvin, Erin.email@example.com
I was dress shopping a few weeks ago with a friend who needed a floor-length gown for an upcoming black-tie benefit. After an exhausting search through the selection of dresses at local department stores, we were unable to find the perfect frock in terms of color, style and price point—especially the latter. With Sarasota boasting a lively season full of galas and formal affairs, it’s hard to buy a new dress for each event without breaking the bank.
It was on my way home from the mall that I realized we had overlooked one local shop sure to have high fashion at low prices: Designing Women Boutique. I stopped in to scope things out and was surprised by the selection of styles from casual to couture, including beautiful floor-length gowns—some which had never been worn. Even better, sales from the nonprofit consignment shop directly benefit the community in the form of grants to local arts and human services organizations. Past grant recipients include ArtCenter Sarasota, Children’s Haven, Habitat for Humanity and the YMCA.
One side of the store is devoted to furniture and home goods from love seats to crystal stemware. Estate jewelry sparkles from behind glass-front cabinets and high-heeled shoes vie for space in the back salon. Tags on clothing, shoes, handbags and other accessories read like a who’s-who of high-end designers: Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Escada, St. John, Jimmy Choo. The saleswomen, all volunteers, are as well dressed and knowledgeable as any I’ve encountered at a mall department store.
Designing Women Boutique is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a host of events promoting “fashion with compassion,” so be sure to check out their website's calendar. After all, finding something to wear will be easy.
Original article published in SRQ Daily on February 17, 2012 (www.srqmagazine.com).