Monday, March 5, 2012

Many Belles Down Relaxes The Blouse

About two years ago, a vintage clothes shopper and fashion boutique owner named Jane Lee stopped browsing racks and started designing clothes. She had the right concept from the start. Reinvent vintage lines by making them timeless with modern fabrics.

Her decision was much more than a hunch. She already knew what many women were looking for based on the way they shopped. Most of them would walk into the boutique and right by whatever trends happened to roll in from season to season. They all wanted something a little more timeless.

Lee has said that she is very much the same way. When the new fashion lines don't serve up enough, the best choices seem to be someplace else — second-hand shops and vintage boutiques. But even then, as most women know, second-hand fabrics don't always feel right and the fit is hit or miss.

Many Belles Down took a chance on timeless. 

Although Lee and her husband, James Knight, originally opened their boutique because they couldn't afford space in the Bay Area, the decision to do so has long since proven itself fortuitous. Berkeley students can be audacious and discriminating shoppers, more likely to set trends than follow them. They also look for clothes that are chic, but not so cool they can't be worn at school. 

The line Lee invented immediately fit the bill. Most of the cuts borrow the best of retro fashion, but are then recast to present a stronger, smarter, sexier, and confident look. Her decision to create her own line came about because she wanted to seize the moment and have some fun. 

Among the newer arrivals is the Dublin Top, an all cotton top that represents how versatile the clothing can be. Although Lee is known for her patterned fabric selection, the Dublin Top relies on a soft texture to create the effect.

The back is tailored and the sleeves break just below the elbow with a buttoned cuff. It's light, cute, and can carry a look with shorts, jeans, skirts or even something more substantial with a jacket or cardigan. It also represents something a little more conservative than what someone might expect to find from Many Belles Down.

Several of Lee's creations are known for exposing the back, with deep revealing cuts that are either buttoned together, like this print blouse meant to dress up some pants or a skirt. Unlike other designs, the blouse is a light poly blend, perfect for warmer days ahead.

Although the pattern is different, the Striped Pam Blouse is similar. The look might be classic, but the dramatic scoop back adds something to the overall effect. The sheerness of it also helps reveals why more Many Belles Down clothes are being seen in Southern California.

The fun of it all isn't confined to the designs, which are usually rotated out at a regular pace. Although some (much like the boutiques) can be considered best suited to different seasons, Many Belles Down is best described by the month. Nothing lasts very long and, much like the stores, they generally don't reorder. 

How Many Belles Down discovered it name. 

There is a two-part answer to the name. The name comes from a line in a poem by E.E. Cummings. The poem "anyone lived in a pretty how town" is about the passage of time with the players, unnamed people who live in the unnamed town, all going about their business. Until one day, someone (or perhaps anyone) realizes that somehow, some way, everything fine is too fleeting not to grab it.

You have to seize it. And that carries the answer back to the second part, which Lee described in one of her first interviews. A friend of hers had been dressed up for her birthday and planned to drink some wine at an old castle. When it was closed, they snuck in to celebrate anyway, unwilling to give up one of those fleeting moments. The clothing line is much the same way. If you like it, you grab it up. 

Spring Blouses By Many Belles Down Grabs 6.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Lee did embellish the line from the poem, making "many bells down" become Many Belles Down, but the meaning magically remains the same. She has something going on as an emerging indie designer, infusing more fun in the fashion world.

Many Belles Down by Jane Lee can be found at Sway Chic. Prices typically range from $30 to $50 for blouses. Along with casual blouses, Many Belles Down also makes some striking dresses and skirts. And, since the site is known to trade up and out fashions, it's not uncommon to find many blouses on sale for under $20.
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