Style points: A look at some Wine Country fashion trendsetters
Published: Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:46 p.m.
You don't have to be a fashionista to make a style statement in Sonoma County.
Those country duds with a lot of bling? They don't cut it anymore. Around these parts, we're into non-fussy style. And that's the joy of living here. You can throw on a pair of jeans and a tailored blazer, some high-tech Nike running shoes or a pair of vintage cowboy boots and still feel like a million bucks.
Even if you're just going to the post office.
“I have a lot of dressy apparel, but here, I don't have a lot of reason to wear it,” said Kate Morison, owner of the Looking Glass boutique in Healdsburg. “I like to take dressier items and dress them down.”
Not that there aren't occasions to bring out the 1940s cashmere cardigan and feathered mini-skirt. Locals often favor vintage dresses and shoes, local designer duds and “festival wear,” a la Burning Man, when they go out to a club to dance and party wtih friends.
Here is a look at some of the styling young trend-setters we spotted, from Petaluma to Healdsburg.
The Looking Glass in Healdsburg may be the only boutique with a champagne bar in the back. But that's not the only classy touch.
Co-owners Andrea “Andy” Barrett, 36, and Kate Morison, 39, stock the store like they fill their own closets, with timeless pieces you can return to, season after season.
“I love modern classics,” said Barrett, who is married to Tod Brilliant, communications director of the Post Carbon Institute in Santa Rosa. “It's a piece that you can pull blindly from your closet, and it will look good with whatever you're wearing.”
Barrett can't live without her navy, cotton-wool knit jacket from Rag & Bone, a New York line inspired by classic British tailoring.
“I can wear that every season, and dress it up and down,” she said. “I call it investment dressing.”
The Mill Valley native, who has been thrifting since high school, likes to pair modern pieces with one or two vintage items.
“One of the key things is being able to mix the finer clothing with everyday reality,” she said. “I love my vintage cowboy boots.”
Morison, a native of Ohio, was drawn to fashion through her entrepreneurial spirit. The petite blonde started out sewing and making quilts. She opened her first boutique in Boston in 1999.
Her own wardrobe is a crazy-quilt mixture of prints. On a wintry afternoon, she topped a pair of jeans with a crisp, Liberty Cotton print shirt and beige scarf.
“I'm wild about prints, and I always wear dresses,” she said. “I like to take dressier items and dress them down.”
The business partners first met in in 2003, after Morison had married winemaker Ames Morison of Medlock-Ames and moved to Healdsburg. Barrett, who was managing a boutique, helped Morison pick out a top.
“Andrea was the first person I actually listened to,” Morison said. “I tried it on, and I was totally happy with it. I've worn it hundreds of times.”
Shopping parties, such as the first annual Absolutely Fabulous, Hung-Over New Year's Day Sale and Party, have put the boutique on the map. San Francisco Racked recently gave it a nod as one of the Top 38 Essential Bay Area Shopping Experiences. (sf.racked.com)
“People come in and say, ‘Champagne and shopping?!'”
— Diane Peterson
It's a step back in time for Marissa Patrick, 32, the owner of Chick-A Boom Vintage Clothing in Petaluma. The bold fashionista wears many of the same retro styles she buys and sells in her store. On this particular day, she's sporting an outfit straight out of the 1940s, from her felt pencil skirt and robin's-egg blue cashmere cardigan to the hat adorned with a sparrow and feathers on her coifed hair. Her 1940s lace-up high heel pumps finish off her classy and edgy style.
“I don't like to label myself, but I guess a lot of people would describe what I wear as rockabilly,” Patrick said, noting a style that was popular in the 1950s when the fusion of rock 'n' roll and hillbilly music created the rockabilly movement. For women, rockabilly is also referred to as pin-up girl fashion, the same style the iconic Bettie Page was famous for wearing.
Patrick has her grandmother, a seamstress at I. Magnin department store in the 1940s, to thank for her original sense of style. Inspired by her vast collection of vintage clothing, Patrick became an avid collector of clothes that span the 1930s to 1950s while she was in college.
Of all the classic clothes Patrick owns, one particular piece stands out above the rest. It's a pink ballgown embellished with ostrich feathers, from the 1920s, her favorite outfit.
“It's very Jean Harlow,” Patrick said with a laugh. Admittedly, she has only been able to wear this outfit twice.
“It's very fragile,” she said. “And it's not exactly something you can wear every day.”
— Crissi Langwell
Like her fashion idol Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday,” Johnna Gattinella also manages to look cool yet hot while taking customers on test drives out of the downtown Santa Rosa scooter shop, Revolution Moto, she owns with husband Joe.
Work gear for this red-haired 30-something is a pair of snug Citizens of Humanity jeans, a charcoal gray jersey shirt, a leather belt with crystal “bullets,” a gray-green designer leather jacket seasoned to a perfect patina over 10 years. And always boots.
“You're just tempting fate,” she says, “with 5-inch heels on a Vespa.”
Or she might go for a 1960s mod look, with a black mini and white go-gos. She has a distinctive “thrift-store chic” style that can turn heads. At 5 feet, 6 inches tall with a size-4 frame, the Cazadero native favors vintage 1940s dresses with a fitted silhouette for dress-up.
“I put on what makes me happy in the morning and if it's a funny hat and pink socks, I roll with it,” says Gattinella, 37, who never wears the same combo twice.
Among her wardrobe staples are “crazy pants,” wild, wide-legged slacks ranging from orange paisley to hand-beaded.
She got her fashion sense from her dad, a buyer for the old Rosenberg's department store, who also schooled her in proper fit. But her style is her own. For her 36th birthday last year, she threw a flash-mob wedding party at the Snoopy Ice Arena with all her friends — even the guys — turning out in vintage bridal gowns.
No matter what life dishes out, every day for Gattinella is one big dress-up. Even when she found herself in the hospital last year, she “went into emergency fashion mode.”
“If I was going to be laid up in a hospital bed, I was going to look good — the Frette bathrobe, the Oscar de la Renta pajamas, the silver ballerina slippers. You don't have a lot of control over what happens to you in life,” she explained, “but you can control how you look when it's happening.”
— Meg McConahey
What will the well-dressed west county denizen wear to next summer's Burning Man festival in the desert?
Perhaps a sleeveless, hooded, zip-up vest made of cotton fleece and decorated with sacred symbols — hexagons, the Star of David or the image of Hathor, Egyptian goddess of joy, love and motherhood.
In 2008, Shane Sterling started selling garments on consignment at Sebastopol's beloved vintage clothing emporium, Aubergine. The next year, he opened his own place on Sebastopol's Main Street, Funk & Flash, in a bright pink storefront.
“I started my business with 100-percent vintage garments and within three years, I phased out every last piece of vintage clothing,” Sterling said.
Now Sterling sells original garments by local and West Coast designers, most of it adorned with silk-screened designs, rivets, zippers and elaborate stitching.
Sterling, 40, the son of free-lance writer and Press Democrat restaurant reviewer Jeff Cox, has a long local history, but believes his career as a style-setter started in Sebastopol.
“What I do — my vibe and my style — resonated with Sebastopol,” Sterling said. “This is the current version of what was happening in the '60s and '70s. The clothing has a distinct look to it, everything from simple yoga wear to post-apocalyptic, ‘Mad Max' styles.”
On an ordinary weekday at his store, Sterling wore black pants and a black sleeveless shirt that showed off tattoos on both arms, accented by a leather belt and boots, and a moon-shaped pendant carved in Indonesia from goat bone.
His understated outfit offered a contrast to the clothes on display at his store, replete with bow ties, top hats and David Bowie costume wigs in five different colors.
“I'm wearing black today, but I have everything from leopard pimp coats to sequined tail coats,” he said. “I have a design that shows a dolphin shooting a rainbow out of its third eye. That says it all.”
— Dan Taylor
Courtney Roualdes has taken up fashion for sport.
“I had a lot of money and I had to find something to do with it, so I started shopping," she said.
The 23-year-old from Sonoma was recently wearing a Nike pullover, Lululemon pants and Nike Frees running shoes that have a sensor inside to track her distance when she jogs.
Roualdes says she typically opts for comfort — leggings and boots, sweaters and lots of scarves to keep her warm. But she also believes in fashion outside the box.
“I like to try new things ... You never know what's going to work and sometimes it goes downhill,” she joked.
Roualdes recently stepped out in a black blazer, tweed shorts, black nylons and ankle boots with a zipper at the heel.
A concierge at Sonoma's El Dorado Hotel, Roualdes said she has an obsession with Michael Kors, a clothing designer well known for his purses. She owns a total of six, with the most expensive worth more than $500.
“I'm not really a girly girl,” she said, “but if you looked in my closet, it looks like I am.”
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