The Newport Look

10 boutiques that prove the City by the Sea is the epicenter of preppy style

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I f you’ve been watching The Gilded Age series by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes on HBO, you already know Newport has long been the summertime playground of America’s wealthiest – and most fashionable – families. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edith Wharton, considered one of America’s greatest writers, often wrote about the aristocratic society into which she was born. She summered in Newport from the time she was a child and later, with architect husband Ogden Codman, Jr. by her side, redesigned their historic oceanfront estate Land’s End, just steps from Cliff Walk. Wharton described the fashion seen along Bellevue Avenue in her autobiography, A Backward Glance: 

“A brocaded or satin-striped dress, powerfully whale-boned, a small flower-trimmed bonnet tied with a large tulle bow under the chin, a dotted tulle veil and a fringed silk or velvet sunshade, sometimes with a jointed handle of elaborately carved ivory, composed what was thought a suitable toilet for this daily circuit between wilderness and waves a backward glance.” 

While bustles and parasols are no longer de rigueur, Newport remains enviably fashionable with plenty of boutiques to appeal to a wide array of tastes. We’ve rounded up more than a dozen that ensure you’re summer ready in style whether in the Ocean State or simply inspired by it. 

Avalonia

Chic meets chill at this lower Thames Street shop featuring dresses, tops, camis, hip jewelry, candles, wall art, and… plants? Yes, says owner Mackenzie Smith with a chuckle, explaining Avalonia’s growth. “I had an online home and garden shop for five years, then branched into fashion and it’s been fun.” She says the shop has an Anthropologie vibe and embraces the “California lifestyle,” as the West Coast is where she does a lot of product sourcing. Naming Free People as the store’s fashion inspiration, looks here are meant to be “effortless and cute,” but Smith, who once worked for lifestyle retailer Urban Outfitters, also wants everything to be accessible. “I try to make things reasonably priced because I hate when I go shopping to love things then have sticker shock,” she says. 640 Thames Street

CK Bradley

Camilla Bradley might just be the embodiment of Newport prep. She originally launched CK Bradley in 1999 while still a senior at Trinity College in Connecticut – sewing colorful totes and reversible ball skirts to sell to classmates – but it was her D-ring ribbon belt, a reinvention of a preppy standard, that would grow the grassroots accessories company into apparel and everything lifestyle. Bradley opened her first CK Bradley boutique across from the Hotel Viking, introducing bright and preppy prints on simple shifts, tops, skirts, and accessories. The store closed its doors in 2011 when Bradley turned her attention to designing a retro ski apparel line for women. But Bellevue Avenue beckoned Bradley back, and in 2016, she opened the new CK Bradley boutique with fresh designs and accessories for each season right in the center of the avenue’s historic casino block. 182 Bellevue Avenue

Club Calais

The search for the perfect white jean is a Rhode Island right of passage come summertime, and Club Calais delivers with premium denim brands including AG, Hudson, Joe’s Jeans, RE/DONE, and Mother – the brand that has quickly turned into the store’s most in demand. Owner Nancy Isherwood, an experienced retailer in Newport, has been at the helm here since 2017 but changed the name more recently as she expanded the shop’s offerings (it was formerly known as Laura Jean). “We have a whole denim wall – probably the most extensive amount of denim in the area, but we carry a lot of other things too,” says Isherwood. Located in the heart of Bellevue Avenue’s shopping district, Isherwood’s vision for Club Calais was a shop that combines classic, all-American design “with a Parisian twist.” With Newport’s robust social season in mind, she’s added a ton of dresses this year, appropriate for everything from graduations and proms to weddings, garden parties, and swanky soirees. Isherwood says the store’s selection “will take you from your daily life to those special occasions that are meant to be memorable.” 198 Bellevue Avenue

Gingy’s

With a name equally as peppy as its offerings, how can you not love this Bellevue Avenue boutique created by mother/daughter Jean and Betsy Tremblay? The first Gingy’s opened in Pennsylvania 15 years ago, followed by a second store in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, a few years later. Daughter Betsy worked for designer Julie Brown, known for designing women’s pieces in vibrant and distinctively designed prints, before heading to Newport to open the first New England Gingy’s. The shop, located at the iconic entrance of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, carries dresses by En Saison, ASTR, Julie Brown, and Sail to Sable. But the game changer came in 2013 when Gingy’s launched their own line of palm-leaf prints, florals, and designs that would make Lilly Pulitzer herself proud. “It’s definitely a favorite in our stores in the summer. We make styles that are flattering to all body types and we try to make styles that are both feminine and fun, but also practical,” explains Betsy. The line is made from nylon jersey fabric that’s cool to the touch, wrinkle-free, machine washable, and made in the USA. “And we’re working on introducing a bunch of new styles this summer that we think Newporters are going to love!” 196 Bellevue Avenue

Kiel James Patrick

Arguably the best-known embodiment of modern prep in the country – at least in the social media sphere – Kiel James Patrick’s eponymous flagship shop on Bowen’s Wharf is a carefully curated space that merges iconic Americana with traditional, earthy New England style. The Warwick native embarked on a design path as early as high school, becoming a connoisseur of vintage classic clothing and selling pieces to his Bishop Hendricken classmates. Not long after, he hawked nautical rope and leather bracelets with metal anchor fasteners under the Kiel James Patrick brand, partnering with local store owners to have the product stocked by like-minded retailers. In 2009, with his would-be wife Sarah Vickers by his side, the preppy power couple expanded the accessories business into a lifestyle brand, with clothing for women and men. They opened their flagship brick-and-mortar shop in Newport in 2017. Bedecked with painted oars, colorful burgees, and dressing rooms reminiscent of vintage beach cabanas, the shop reflects the coastal living vibe of the Ocean State – only with a global appeal. 3 Bowen’s Wharf #3004

Lemon & Line

The nautical lifestyle isn’t just an idea or concept for David Norton. He grew up on Narragansett Bay, racing dinghies or pleasure sailing with his family on their sailboat. Inspired by the classic sailor’s knot – or Turk’s head – bracelets he’d wear the entire summer season, Norton decided to create a line fashioned in the iconic bracelet’s likeness but with a more sophisticated appeal. Lemon & Line was started in Norton’s basement and remained there until enough demand warranted a proper space where he could truly showcase the breadth of nautical rope designs he fashioned. Opened in 2011, Lemon & Line’s sundrenched shop on lower Thames Street gives workshop-meets-yacht club vibes, with beadboard and varnished wood details juxtaposed by spools of custom-made nautical rope mounted to the wall. Don’t worry – a seating area lets you take it all in if you need a minute. The company also produces regatta belts and branded ballcaps, and be sure to check out the Clean Ocean Collection which is crafted using recycled plastic. 421 Thames Street

Monelle

With beautifully decorated windows and well-dressed mannequins outside the entry, Monelle on Newport’s Bowen’s Wharf has a way of just luring you in and tempting stylish shoppers with things they never knew they must have. Linen flats with embroidered lobsters? Yes, please. Pink tulle skirt? Very Carrie Bradshaw. Flirty floral dress for days? Yup. Amazing denim? Of course. And the selection of covetable beaded clutches from Moyna with sayings including “Cheers!,” “Nauti,” and “Newport 2022” will have you saving your summer job pennies. Rompers, maxi dresses with tassels, handbags, hats, and jewelry round out the store – all perfect for a mimosa-fueled brunch at the legendary Clarke Cooke House just steps away. Coincidence? 17 Bowen’s Wharf

Sail Away Studio

If you blink, you might miss the entrance to Sail Away Studio, and if you do, it’d be a shame because this year-old Thames Street boutique carries a collection of ageless looks. Dresses, caftans, tops, bottoms, seasonal light sweaters, wide-brim sun hats, colorful flats, swimwear, home decor, and the nautically inspired accessories here all have a sunny disposition. “I don’t cater to just one style for women,” says owner Martha Smith, who grew up in a family of artists in the coastal community of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. “I have an eclectic personality. I love preppy. I love boho – all of those things.” As a child, she aspired to be a window designer for one of the grand department stores in New York City. Sail Away Studio allows her to indulge that childhood dream while doing what she loves today: dressing women so they look and feel their best. “I look for something that’s going to bring out a woman’s personality,” she explains. With an array of chic designs continually hitting the shop floor, there’s something for everyone. 468 Thames Street

Tyler Böe

The collaborative vision of husband-and-wife duo Sam and Karol Boe, no strangers to the apparel industry, has solidified Tyler Böe as a stylish stalwart on Newport’s Bannister’s Wharf. Created to be “a refreshingly chic collection of sportswear designed for today’s modern, yet refined woman,” Tyler Böe has ageless appeal – classic styles but with a nod to trends. So then, who is Tyler, you ask? The couple’s daughter, who serves as the company’s director of brand development and continues to grow the lifestyle brand. The women’s collections includes dresses, tops, bottoms, sweaters, and outerwear, while a new men’s collection is on track to drop this spring. Versatility is a key pillar in their designs, which is perhaps best exemplified by the women’s easy, breezy, and effortless Isla eyelet dress which can be worn to the beach, around the house or dressed up for dinner. Even better, it’s designed with a relaxed fit that works with any figure. Says Tyler Boe Drexler, “We like to think that our brand can really be for everyone as we strive to make classic wardrobe staples, with a Tyler Böe twist, that will become pieces in your closet you reach for season after season.” 33 Bannister’s Wharf #3009

X&O Boutique

Leslie Cathers proves that some things only come with experience. With some of the best eyes in the business, Cathers can spot an emerging style trend well before it hits the mainstream, which is why her Groovy Gator and Groove Newport boutiques have an enviable longevity in retail. But seeing a vacancy in the Newport market for a place where women can find well-made fun and funky clothing with a nod to modern style but with timeless appeal, Leslie founded X&O Boutique on Bellevue Avenue. Bright caftans with a Palm Beach vibe, versatile dresses, made-to-order jackets, and “where’d you get that?” accessories have put X&O on the map. “X&O is a place to find everyday luxury in our curated collections from designers around the world,” says Cathers. “Our goal is making our customers feel confident and beautiful from the time they walk in the door.” Familiar brands include Good American, Vilagallo, Commando, Josie Bruno camo jackets, Celia B, HOFF sneakers, and unique pieces sourced from Italy, Spain, and beyond. Says Cathers, “Our customers are the women who love fashion and are looking for a bold statement piece or collections to pull from their closet for an everyday look. From jeans and tees to that one-of-a-kind statement piece, we have you covered.” 190 Bellevue Avenue  

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