Hats of all shapes, dresses with tulle linings and skirts that spin are staples in my wardrobe.
They also are the same pieces I wore when I was 2.
In a way, I guess you can say the fashion addict I have become is completely my mother’s doing. My mother believed I was her best accessory, dressed from head to toe in Battenberg lace hats and French frocks with large, scalloped Peter Pan collars, procured at Giggles, a children’s boutique that formerly operated in Forty Fort.
Giggles and Anna from Ireland, the children’s fashion guru who operated the store, are some of my earliest memories. Hours were spent in the small shop – my mother would search the perfectly curated sale racks for my next dress, and I would play with the brightly colored fit-and-flare skirts on display.
Giggles shuttered as I started elementary school, and for years I did not step into another boutique because, like Giggles, many went out of business, and few catered to the shopping needs of a 6-year-old.
No mall store could compete with the level of care Anna gave her customers. She had a knack for knowing what her clients were looking for and exactly what would go with the red Rothschild coat you had your eye on.
I was 14 before I started boutique shopping again. Specialty stores, it seemed, were beginning to re-emerge throughout the Wyoming Valley. I was elated, and on a subconscious level I yearned for the special feeling of shopping again.
I found that special feeling in 2012 when I began a summer-long internship at the recently reopened Baby Vogue in the United Penn Plaza in Kingston.
Kathy Dellarte, owner of Baby Vogue, was a first-time shopkeeper but had a natural ability to learn her customers’ needs and dress their children. Special orders became commonplace, and by the end of the summer Kathy had a customer base, and as new merchandise was delivered phone calls were made to shoppers Kathy believed would love the arrivals.
She knows exactly what her customers like.
I had come full circle working at Baby Vogue. I was no longer the kid playing in the twirly dresses but the lady finding a floral headpiece that would make the twirly dress pop.
As I stare at my closet, filled with grown-up versions of the cloth creations I wore as a child, I am more than thankful that my mother spent her time not at rock concerts but at carefully curated boutiques run by women who, like herself, knew how to put an outfit together.
Because who knows how I would have turned out otherwise?