True Seattle Style from Sassafrass

You all know my love for history. I write about it in almost every post, whether it’s my personal history or some era in fashion. But you must also know that I would never want to go back in time. “The good old days” really weren’t that good for most people, especially women, people of color, the old and sick, and the poor. I’m especially mindful of that as we honor and celebrate the lessons brought to us by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today.

Something Good from “The Good Old Days”

There are lessons to be learned from our ancestors, though. Human history will never be perfect, but living today means we have the hindsight to gain knowledge and wisdom from the past. It helps us understand ourselves and it gives us the ability to see what worked and what didn’t.

Even as I’m mindful of the harder lessons, I can practice something good from the past and heed Dr. King’s words to do something for others when I support local shops, craftspeople, and artisans.

Granted, supporting local businesses often wasn’t a choice for my ancestors, or even for me! As a girl growing up in the 70s and 80s in Texas, we shopped where we lived and, apart from fast food, we ate at restaurants owned by people we knew. We only took trips to The City for special occasions.

Below is a video of my friend Sherrain and I starring in a commercial for the Merle Norman boutique where I worked throughout high school. The shop was locally owned by a woman who became a mentor to me. Her name was Cleo and, although she has since passed and the shop itself no longer exists, I think back to how much the community supported her dreams.

Pardon the poor quality of the video. It was converted to digital from VHS. (For you kids out there, that was the way we used to record video back in the day.)

Because there are so many choices out there–some incredibly convenient–when I shop locally today, the impact means more than it used to because I have to be mindful about it. Shopping big department stores and going through Amazon (both of which I do!) are no-brainers. But when I shop locally, the money I spend puts food on someone’s table. It goes toward paying bills and helps people achieve dreams. Plus, it’s pretty cool to become a regular and develop relationships with people I admire.

This week, I’m devoting a whole series to Sassafrass boutique in Seattle. If you read my grunge post a couple of months ago, you already know I love that place. It’s just steps from the bustling Pike Place Market and it offers a true taste of the region. Everything sold there is handmade by designers who live in the Pacific Northwest. Some of the items are crafted just downstairs from the boutique in the design studio!

This past fall I purchased three items from Sassafrass: two dresses and a flannel shirt.

To show how versatile these pieces are, I’m doing something a little different this week. Instead of posting just once, I’m going to style a different outfit each day and share it with you. To make things simple, I only used 3 different pairs of shoes and a handful of accessories that I mixed and matched.

First up, a color-block, pinstripe dress by Lysle Style

The pinstripes and masculine colors might imply buttoned-up and tailored but the asymmetrical hem and the angled color blocking make this dress contemporary and borderline whimsical.

I don’t know about you, but I could use a whole lot more whimsy in my life.

I was grateful for the stretchy fabric on Thanksgiving night when I wore this exact outfit to dinner.

The gray suede Cole Haan wedge boots add both style and warmth to this fall/winter look. I bought these several years ago at an outlet mall in Arizona.

It’s not easy finding stylish, modern, and comfortable, but this dress is the real deal. And let’s not forget the value of knowing that Lysle, a human being whose life my purchase impacts, designed and made this with her very own hands.

All About Sassafrass

Sassafrass carries a selection of pieces for sale on the website, but if you’re in town, stop by and say hi to Amy, the owner. You can also plan a visit to meet specific designers and artists at events Amy regularly hosts in the shop. Visit the website for the calendar of events. I’ve included hours and address info below.

Mon-Sat 11a-7p
Sun 12-6p
Second Fridays 12-9p

2307 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

Affiliate link disclaimer: Please note, although I paid for the items from Sassafrass I feature here, I did receive a discount when I purchased them. I have not been paid by Sassafrass to write about the store or items. Any links associated with the Cole Haan boots are affiliate links. By clicking those links and purchasing from those stores, I might receive a small commission. This supports the work I do here and I greatly appreciate your support!

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  • What a statement piece Sherry!!
    The different materials and the hemline make it really stand out!
    And I really like the grey boots with it. I’m sure most of us would have played it safe with black boots, but the grey truly look so stylish!! In fact, it makes me realize that I need to pull mine out and wear them more!!
    That video is priceless too!! I’m assuming you shopped at that store quite a bit, because what a fabulous concept!!
    And the message from MLK? It’s so incredibly true. We went through the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis where he was shot. It really makes you realize how things were so different in the past, and how we can make a difference even now!!

    • Thank you, Jodie! I can’t wait to share Sassafras with you next month or, at the very latest, this fall when we get together for a meet-up! It’s such a great shop.

      I did shop at Cleo’s quite a bit–she always wanted us to model the clothes so customers would want to buy them, so she gave us a nice discount.

      I would love to visit the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis next time I’m out that way. Do you realize I used to live so close to Memphis, have been there a million times, but I’ve never been to Graceland or the Civil Rights Museum? I was young and oblivious then. 😄

  • NUTS!!!For some reason I’m not seeing the link to your vintage video . I’ll keep looking…
    Your handmade boutique dress is very cute Sherry. I love the mix of patterns. This becomes a very versatile piece that you can combine with lots of different bottom. The irregular hem is artistically done! My favorite section is the pinstripe which has a menswear vibe and your gray boots make that section really pop!
    I agree that boutique shopping is much more intimate. It’s really an entirely different kind of shopping especially when you know the artisans personally. I think we crave a little of that kind of feeling these days. I rarely shop or even browse in the big department stores. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series Sherry!

    • Thank you, Marilee! It is a versatile piece, as you say and I can’t wait to share more about how I style it over the course of this week! How cool that you do more local shopping. When we meet up in February, I’d love to hear where you shop. You’re in MN?

      I saw another comment from you that said you were able to get the video going. Hooray!! Those were fun times.

  • Oh my that dress is fabulous Sherry. I adore asymmetrical hems and this looks sassy on you. It is so stylish and modern and the grey boots are a treat with it. What a find. If I come over to Seattle, I’d have to go shopping with you to find gems like this.
    And that video is so fun. Amazing that you were able to transfer it. Ah VHS – those were the days!
    And the theme of your piece is so timely. How everyone can help each other a little more.

    • Thank you, Jacqueline! I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you here and on IG and elsewhere. I’ve missed you! If you ever get to Seattle, you’ve definitely got a friend to go shopping with!

    • Hi Nancy! Thank you! Pinstripes are one of my favorite patterns. They’re so masculine but I love it when they’re put into more feminine styles like this dress. And the hemline just makes the whole thing fun!! 😀