Profile: Grace Boutique, Old Town

I stumbled upon Grace one Monday afternoon (when all of Old Town is closed!), peeked in the windows, and instantly fell in love. It took me back to San Francisco, to Edinburgh, and to London where I used to wander past shops that were owned by real people, not marketing firms, showrooms that you couldn’t find anywhere else in the world, boutiques that made shopping an experience rather than a chore.

Filled with the scent of a luxury perfume, walking into Grace is visually stunning. The floor displays are meticulously arranged to accentuate the flow of color around the store, from neutrals to vibrant hues of cobalt and carmine. Cashmere scarves, velvet gloves, and pearl earrings adorn the tables, while racks of sweaters, dresses, blouses and more line the walls. It is obvious how seriously the shop takes it’s collection of handbags as you can find them from the size of change purses and clutches to oversized totes and business accessories. The exposed brick and large windows help to bring a modern feel to the shop and the dressing rooms are warm and cozy. The evening gowns, of which there is not a single one reminiscent of prom, and cocktail dresses are located in the heart of the shop with pearl encrusted bags, feathered fascinators, and jeweled hair clips. Not one to overlook details, Grace also features a collection of beautiful ties, money clips, and cufflinks perfect for completing any man’s dress attire.

I have raved about it to many, many friends, found many pieces of attire for my wedding there, and last week I stopped in to talk to Summer Schriner, the owner, about the store. After moving to Lansing in 1996 to earn her degree at MSU, Summer attended law school. During that time she participated in the founding and initial phases of October Moon Art Gallery and Gift Boutique, preparing her for eventually forming her own shop and introducing her to the wonders of Old Town. Living in the area for years brought to light a glaring oversight – where were the shops for young professionals that idolized Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn? Why should women have to drive to Ann Arbor or Detroit to buy a great cocktail dress? Operating under the motto of “You’re best at what you love,” Summer set out to make Grace a shop that feature clothing that had a vintage flair and classic shapes. In 2007 the shop was officially born and since then, according to Summer, the only challenge has been finding enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. The Lansing community has been very supportive, even in these difficult times and she has the regular customers to prove it.

What’s the future hold for Grace? Well, early next month the shop should begin featuring Jenna Kator’s “Old Town” handbag. Fall and winter are full of riding jackets, ruffles, overcoats, and tweed (my favorite!), but Grace’s spring collection is already in the works – look forward to layered silk tops, short, 60’s inspired sheath dresses, novelty pieces, and lots of pattern – specifically gingham!

Grace – 115 W. Grand River Ave., Lansing, MI  48906   517.972.8626

Hours: Mon. – Sat. 10am to 7pm, Sunday Noon to 5pm


Fall Fashion – A Plea Against Leggings

Let’s just get it out before we start – I am at war with the world of leggings. That spandex pant that used to be just for lounging and workouts has made it’s way onto the Lansing stage with a vengeance, wrapping itself around college kids and grown women alike. Leggings are everywhere and I’m here to say that you, gentle reader, are better than them. Leggings are boring; you are not. Let’s have some fun with style this fall and stray from the expected into the fabulous.

Here are some ideas from the world beyond skintight cotton-poly blend:

Images from: Modcloth (2, 7); Anthropologie (1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11); – Janellehaskin (4)

The Skinny Cord (1) – pair with ballet flats, a hip length open sweater, tight tee, and a voluminous scarf to play with the balance of the slim pant
Tailored Cargo Pant (10) – military chic is the “it” look now, combine this pant with a lacy ivory blouse and brown heels for a strong, yet feminine look
Boot cut Jean (8) – skinny may be all the rage, but those of us with Michigan winters to look forward to understand the value of a jean that can fit some long johns or thigh high socks under it
Knee-Length A-Line (7) – a fall classic in candy apple red, with thick tights, a pair of boots and an army jacket, you’re ready brave whatever wind and rain may come
A Fantastic Dress (9) – now that cooler weather is here we can break out the thicker fabrics and darker prints, try a wool plaid with t-strap heels for a night out

There are so many options out there that leggings should be relegated to the gym, cleaning the kitchen, and sick days. Find something that sets you apart this fall and, like the leaves when stripped of their chlorophyll, when you’re free of your leggings your true color will shine!