As daylight changes and Fall approaches, the spirit of fall fashion emerges from all corners of Bend. In the center of downtown, that ambiance is reflected from behind the counter of Lulu’s Boutique. There, in a painting by artist Michael Cassidy, shines the face of a Lulu's woman: she is a sassy, confident beauty that radiates joy and inspires shoppers looking to refresh a wardrobe, build layers for approaching cool temperatures or re-build their style statement after a year in cozy athleisure wear, “Everyone needed some retail therapy after this past year,” says co-owner Leah Cassidy.
During the past six months, comfort clothing worn at home during the pandemic segued to a lightness necessitated by a summer filled with Central Oregon heatwaves. As days cool, fall rings in a return to dressing for travel, special events and an expression of individuality. Classic lines with riffs of retro designs, houndstooth patterns and pops of color all mark fall fashion. Leah explains the word shacket (a combination of shirt and jacket) as one we’ll need to incorporate into a style vocabulary as this popular style shows up for fall, especially in Bend where it can be a staple in a local woman’s closet much like a Pendleton shirt for men, she says. According to fashion magazine Marie Claire, sweater vests are also trending alongside denim in shirts, jackets and jumpsuits, and pieces in leopard prints. Plus, “People are not afraid of color anymore,” says Leah. While fall palettes are still based on neutrals, new shades include burnt orange, blush pink and greens in addition to basic black. Comfort is still present, but Leah describes the new approach as being one that combines comfort with confidence. “It’s important to feel good from head to toe,” she says.
That fun side of fashion is what attracted owners Leah and Sara McQuillan to the boutique which has had a location on Oregon Street since 2007. While the store has changed hands from founder Ann Laflamme-Allan to Patti Orsatti, it was two years ago that Leah and Sara took the reins of what they describe as the “Cheers of Bend.” As a place where everyone knows your name, Lulu’s is often a gathering spot where long-time patrons, friends and visitors to the community all mix and mingle outside the dressing rooms to offer styling advice or to catch up on each other’s lives. “I love it when three generations of women come in, and each member of the family finds something that works for them,” says Sara. The versatility of offerings in the store is reflected in the complimentary style and skill sets the business partners bring to the shop. Leah’s background is in fashion. She studied fashion merchandising in New York City and operated three stores in Southern California. Her strength is creative visualization, whether looking at an over-arching season or creating an outfit for a client. Sara brings business acumen, organization and a down-to-earth style to form a partnership that sets a happy tone inside the store. The two work creatively to help dress people who come through the doors, using Leah’s visual currency and Sara’s ability to relate to them on a personal level.
Leah and Sara both agree that they enjoy going to work every day at Lulu’s. “The happiness it brings to be at Lulu’s for me, and for the people that come into the store is a reminder of what’s important in life,” says Sara. After a challenging 2020, the transition to a fall season is an opportunity to re-introduce a dose of spirit and individuality into a local Bend wardrobe. A litmus test is how an article of clothing makes you feel from head to toe. Leah adds, “If you can’t make it fun, why bother?” BendBoutique.com
1.) Liverpool Cinnamon Jacket, $119 and matching pant, $89. Liverpool crisp white shirt, $68.
2.) Ruched Blue mini-dress, $98.
3.) Leather Messenger Bag, $219.
4.) Cezele Shacket in Taupe, $68. Goldie White-ribbed Tee, $75. Sanctuary Mini-skirt, in bare leopard. $99.
5.) Sanctuary Pantsuit, $199. Felt hat, models own.
6.) Jersey Grey dress, $79. Liverpool denim jacket, $159.
7.) Stained glass pansuit, $98. Leather belt, $120. Liverpool denim jacket, $159.
8.) Sanctuary Double Button linen pant, $179. Liverpool Striped Dress shirt, $89. BudZe Tall Boots, $219.
9.) Liverpool Button-Up Denim, $98. Sanctuary flowing top, $89. Flounced Linen Jacket, $129. Fedora hat, models own.
10.) Artisan jewelry from Local Artist, Jesamine Negri. Leaf Earrings, $98.
11.) Ulti Cashmere. On Leah, teal blue poncho, $225. On Sara, royal blue v-neck, $219.
All items available at Lulu’s Boutique, 150 NW Minnesota, Downtown Bend. 541.617.8948