September 20th, 2009
Affection: What Women Want
In 6 Words: Couture, Shopping, Accessories, Imported, Fashion, Feminine
Is the title a loaded question? A kitschy marketing slogan? A preface to a spectacularly large number of possible responses? Whichever it may be, one foolproof answer to this complex contemplation is Fashion.
In desperate need of an excellent, but last-minute, birthday gift for one of my closest friends and shopping companion, I decide to stop at the not-so-former site of Casa’s catering I’ve noticed the past few weeks. Newly opened, this plain, warehouse-looking, stand alone building is a perfect illustration of the residential-commercial-dining-retail-bar hodgepodge permeating the Washington Avenue corridor, but a quick walk inside relieves any misgivings. With about 5 racks of apparel ranging from day to evening wear, there were plenty of dresses to peruse, and I proceed to examine the merchandise not once but twice over.
First thing to catch my eye as I enter the store is an adorable, bright yellow shift dress ($129) paired with a black stone necklace and flower ($25). Covering the entire back wall and scattered around the store are uniquepieces of jewelry and smart accessories – a long, silver asymmetrical, chain necklace for$20– a gorgeous, bright orange, over-sized patent leather satchel for about $65 – a sleek, onyx black cuff watch for about $30. There is small dressing area, while the entire store front flaunts the owner’s talent for creating fabulous ensembles. This is a cool shop…so cool – it makes the little butterflies on the shop emblem and on awnings outside forgivable.
The pride in her work is palpable when are you are greeted by Paula Davila, owner and buyer for Affection Boutique. She offers me a cool beverage as I enter and calls to attention her newly imported pieces…it is easy to instantly feel comfortable here. To completely explain this, I must admit that before this visit to Affection, I was en route home to change from an entire morning of helping a friend pack and move. Needless to say I was hardly in my Sunday best, but Paula was still ever the gracious host recommending several solutions to my current dilemma – a last minute birthday gift for my Fashionista friend. I know everyone has had one of those dreadful shopping experiences of smug, annoyingly self-important sales associates whose pretension is offered up as assistance, much like Pretty Woman minus the ‘lady-of-the-night’ attire. Genuine customer service is indeed a lost art form, but there are a few boutiques around town that do a good job…and Affection should make its way to the top of this short list.
After declining a glass of wine (it was still only the afternoon), I begin to learn that Paula travels often and abroad to pick out the latest fashions at shows in Florida, California and Thailand – and that she plans to visit other parts of Asia and South America soon (she leaves next week). Then we delve into a discussion on the current trends of other boutiques in area and both make note of the cookie-cutter tendencies evident in their inventory (a.k.a. those Delicious brand shoes and the like) with suspiciously familiar labels but with higher prices tags. One of the best features of a shop like affection is its individuality – you can trust that when you step out in your new purchase you won’t be horrified to find someone else wearing it too! (Yes, I’m talking about that Forever21 outfit you bought because it was so cute on…only to see it on another chick that night. However – just some food for thought – they now have some cute, so-called “kinda kouture” items available online that cannot be found at the store locations.)
So, I can admit that I shop the local retail chains, and I categorically believe that Houston should be the very next location for an H&M store (and like yesterday, please!). Such retailers come in handy for obtaining those 10 or so basic elements every wardrobe must have – but when you feel like expressing your own sense of style… this new shopper’s retreat is a welcomed addition to the current collection of boutiques in the Loop. New additions to Paula’s collection should be available this week, and I am eager to see the shoe selection that will be available soon.
So without further ado, I finally make my gift selection: a cobalt blue, cuff-sleeved, tunic dress ($39) along with a canary yellow, three tiered, stone necklace ($20). And ruefully, I elect put back a cargo shirt-dress with waist drawstring in off white ($49) that would have looked great on – reasonably priced, but I remember I have the birthday dinner and night of drinks ahead of me. Even with this newly attained acumen, I still consider myself a member of the Carrie Bradshaw School of Thought…“I like my money right where I can see it – hanging in my closet.”
I think I would like to see a lot more Affection in my closet very soon.
Where – Washington Ave (2811 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77007) View Map
What – Shopper’s delight of unique trends and import fashion
Who – Young Urban Profession Ladies with Style
How Much –$85-145 apparel; $20-$75 accessories
When – Wednesday thru Saturday 11-9; Sunday 11-5
Web – (still under construction)