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Make the Look

The secrets to finding dazzling accessories in Boise


The style scene in the Treasure Valley has long been an enigma--a mashup of fleece-loving Northwest stereotypes and clothes from big-name stores. But even with a smattering of shops shuttering their doors downtown, a healthy mix of options remains for those looking to add some umph to their outfits while buying local. Finding accessories that warrant "where'd-you-get-that" responses isn't impossible--it's a matter of knowing where to look.

Ask Barbara Lane, of the iconic Barbara Barbara and Co. clothing boutique that has been providing Boise women with style for 29 years, what's trending in Boise and she'll show you. She'll also probably pair it with jewelry, a belt and a couple layers. The add-ons are the key to looking as put together as one of the boutique's infamous window displays.

"Accessories can make an outfit--they're the icing on the cupcake," the merchandising expert said. "They make a big difference. Once someone has picked something out, I'm right on the accessories."

With a variety of trendy sunglasses, belts, scarves and jewelry that won't break the bank, and a helpful staff, putting together a complete look is simple.

For those hoping to add some boho touches to their personal style, Eyes of the World Imports provides cases and cases of colorful stone necklaces, funky bracelets, charms and earrings. For those who love decking out their earlobes, the store offers an earring club--buy 12 pairs, get one free. Be sure to wear a watch when cruising the store's collection of perfect-for-the-Hyde-Park-Street-Fair bags and unique housewares; the store is easier to while away hours in than a windowless casino.

Another place to spend a significant chunk of time is at Dragonfly. Necklaces, bracelets and Swarovski crystal nose studs glimmer under the glass of the long counter in the center of the store. You'll also find walls of colorful socks, delicate scarves and a counter full of fun glasses.

If you won't settle for anything less than a one-and-only, vintage is the way to go. With a number of new-to-you shops across the Boise area, finding your new style need only require searching through the old.

"You're not just saving money, you're being green," said Rick Ramos, a volunteer at Exposure a.l.p.h.a. Interchange. According to Ramos and store manager Ray Schuler, some of the store's best-sellers are shoes, bags, scarves and jewelry.

"You can create you own personal style, and [using accessories] is the easiest way to do it," Ramos said.

The two also noted that buying secondhand means being able to experiment with style on the cheap. And in the case of many thrift stores, money spent benefits a good cause. Exposure's cause, Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS, promotes awareness and prevention by offering free HIV screenings. So you can feel less guilty about picking up that circa-1940, too-good-to-pass-up tweed fedora.

Another sweet spot to score some old-school shimmer is Nifty '90s. The well organized vintage shop has been around for 40-some years and provides a variety of near-antique accessories for your house and body. The cases in the store are reminiscent of a stylish grandmother's jewelry box, shining with brooches, hairpins, necklaces and earrings, all of which add the glamour of yesteryear to an outfit without emptying your pocketbook.