Claremonters weigh in on back-to-school fashion trends

Feminine. Edgy. Vivid.  These are words that could be used to describe the clothes on offer this year as teen girls and college-bound women prepare to start school.

The summer heat has dampened shoppers’ spirits lately, according to Amy Ogilvie, owner of the clothing shop Maple Boutique, located in the Packing House in Claremont’s Village West area.

With school bells poised, though, business is picking up, particularly during traffic-heavy times like the Friday Nights Live music performances that bring throngs of visitors to the Village.

Maple Boutique, which Ms. Ogilvie opened 8 weeks ago after moving the shop from its original Wrightwood location to Claremont, conveys its owner’s keen and green interior design aesthetic as well as her passion for fashion. Clothes hang on recycled hangers from manzanita branches suspended by ropes, swaying as customers browse.

Ms. Ogilvie restocks her wares 3 times a week, ensuring an ever-changing selection. If an item flies off the shelves, it’s almost always gone for good. Her current focus is filling the store with transitional pieces that is casual and cool enough for the final days of summer but which will translate well into the fall.

These include maxi-dresses that can be layered with sweaters, and loose-fitting shirts that can be worn belted or under a cardigan or blazer. Choice items seen in Maple Boutique on Thursday, August 16 included a silky navy blue button-down shirt and a blouse in neutral tones with a sweater-like knit broken up by a sheer panel. Both tops featured the longer-in-the-back hem currently making the fashion scene.

What do you pair a great blouse with? Jeans, of course, and denim is hot this season, especially in vibrant colors, Ms. Ogilvie said. As far as shape, the news is not good for those who fear the skinny jean.

“Skinnies are huge—I don’t see them going away. People love them,” she said. 

Ms. Ogilvie softened the news by seeking to dispel the myth that plus-size women can’t wear skinny jeans.

“There’s a cut for everyone—maybe not the ultra-skinny cut, but you can still wear them.”

One might think having so many Village clothing shops, located close to one another in a tight economy, fosters competition. For Ms. Ogilvie, though, it’s a matter of the more the merrier. Having a shop or 2 would make Claremont a quick stop on a shopper’s itinerary. Having a slew of stores turns it into a fashion destination.

“We all help bring people to this area. People are starting to say, ‘Claremont’s not just a place where we can get lunch. We can go shopping here and not go to the mall.’”

Ms. Ogilvie believes the local shops complement each other nicely. “You can get a great top here, skinny jeans from Amelie and a dress from Nectar.”


Nectar of the style gods

Alexandria Muro, an assistant at Escape Salon in Claremont, is a senior at Glendora High School, where the new school year has already begun.

She is a typical 17-year-old girl in that she loves shopping. She is not as typical in that she has known for some years now what she wants to do after graduating from high school: study medicine.

Alexandria often shops in the Claremont Village, citing Nectar as a favorite spot. It’s one of the more affordable stores in the area, has a wide array of accessories and is packed with many items on her must-have list.

She’s a girly-girl, Alexandria admits, and is pulled towards clothes that are “feminine and pretty—really light and lacy.” The summer season has been great for her, she said, because she loves color, particularly pink and coral.

“I only wear black when I have to work,” she emphasized. 

She agreed to accompany a COURIER photographer to a few local boutiques that carry youth-centered fare, modeling some of their most current fashions. At Nectar, her finds ranged from girly to sleek to rock n’ roll.

She selected several ensembles, including a denim vest over a coral floral dress; a sheer neon blouse over a short, cream-colored lace skirt and a pair of blood-red jeans paired with a long, fringed T-shirt emblazoned with a tribal skull design with metal embellishments. Footwear finds ranged from Tom’s-brand tribal-printed wedge heels to yellow sandals.

“We like being versatile and speaking to every girl,” said manager M.J. Causor of the wide selection. “Even the edgiest girl has a wedding to go to, and they come in here.”

On Thursday, August 15, Elysee Carreno, a junior at Bonita High School in La Verne, stopped by Nectar with her mom, Jessica. On that day, Elysee was wearing a tribal-print shirt, reflective of recent trends, but she says she has no particular “look.”

“I go from one style to the next. I like changing it up,” she said. 

Elysee love clothes and said she admires her peers who “go all out with fashion and don’t really care what people think about them.” Asked whether she has the same devil-may-care attitude, she said not really. Her style lies somewhere between such fashion rebels and those obsessed with what others think is cool.

“I’m somewhere in the middle,” she said.

Her favorite shops include thrift stores, which she combs for vintage items, and Nectar.

“I like it. It’s really good clothing,” she said. “It doesn’t look too cheap but it’s affordable.”

Looking around the store, Elysee found many items to covet. She liked the idea of dressing an outfit down by layering a denim vest over a summer dress, and made a point of trying on some knee-high brown leather moccasin-style boots.

While she combed through the shop, her mother was content to enjoy the show. Shopping with her daughter isn’t a cause for concern, Jessica said, because Elysee has a good sense of style, and is sensible about not selecting anything too provocative or age-inappropriate.

“We had a great time together,” she said of their shopping spree, noting that they waited for evening to beat the heat. “Elysee’s fun and creative, and she’s out there picking clothes that are unique to her own style.”


It takes a Village

Browsing through Amelie was a new experience for Alexandria, who said she loved the sophisticated clothes there. Ensembles she modeled in the boutique located in the Claremont Village included a gauzy evergreen-hued Ashton dress by BB Dakota, sleek snakeskin-printed jeans and one getup with consummate collegiate appeal: charcoal-colored skinny jeans from Lily paired with a white cut-off Michael Lauren tank, a Tacey-style BB Dakota sweater and Kelsi Dagger-brand Helix taupe suede wedge boots.

Despite the heat, Amelie—a store that, with upholstered stools and gleaming chandeliers, has a decidedly lux look—has been busy lately, said owner Sydney Froehling. Some of that, she feels, is because the inventory still appeals to summer shoppers.

While she’ll begin adding some fall-friendly pieces in the coming days and weeks, “We’re smart enough to know that true fall merchandise has no place on the floor.”

Items that do have a place are those skinny jeans, in crayon-bright hues or featuring a leather or snakeskin print, and studded shoes and handbags. As the thermostat drops, Ms. Froehling predicts there will be a rush on Fair Isle sweaters as well as knits featuring the still-popular tribal prints. Smart blazers will also be making an appearance, giving fall fashion a crisp look. Neon seems to be slowly receding, but color-junkies need not mourn, Ms. Froehling said.

“The big color story for the fall is cobalt blue with black, really rich berries, and then teal, which has been beautiful this year,” she said.


Shopping love, American-style

Along with boutiques, fashion franchises have also found a place in Claremont, like American Apparel, which is known for its eyebrow-raising provocative print ads and its fair trade, made-in-America policies. It’s a popular shopping destination that stocks many recent fashion trends, which manager Ashley Tarin took a moment to discuss.

“Any colored denim is very trendy right now—it’s a big hit this summer,” she said.

American Apparel carries colorful jeans in hues ranging from yellow to neon green to teal to purple. As far as fit, jeans are still skinny, by and large, but a style featuring a high waist and zippers at the ankle has also been selling smartly, Ms. Tarin notes.

When it comes to accessories, though, things are becoming more subdued in anticipation of fall, according to Ms. Tarin. Rather than opting for armfuls of bangles, young women are settling on statement pieces like a single, large necklace or an oversized boho bag.

“A lot of the outfits you’ll see, it’ll be really casual, but then one of the pieces will be really loud,” said Ms. Tarin. “One pop and they’re good to go.”

—Sarah Torribio



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