A recessionistas’ haven

Annalisa Huge

Located right off Water Street in the heart of downtown Excelsior, Cynthia Rae Dress Code boutique attracts high-school fashionistas who enjoy hunting for one-of-a-kind pieces such as patterned blouses and vintage jewelry. The affordable prices and chic uptown theme is what makes the shop so addicting.

Founded in 1989, Cynthia Magnuson opened her boutique as a trendy plus-size clothing store called Cynthia Rae for the Well-Rounded Women. As a teen, she was aware that fashion-forward outfits were hard to come by for larger girls, like herself, which caused her to propel herself into fashion and design. By 2002, Magnuson transformed her store from having a plus-size focus to a contemporary place where everyone can shop, now called Cynthia Rae Dress Code.

Cynthia was recently a candidate for Bravo’s hit television show, Project Runway. “I realized that the challenges the designers were faced with, I could not only meet, but do a better job,” said Magnuson. Although she only made it through two rounds of the audition process, she used her experiences of being critiqued and judged by fashion icons Heidi Klum and Michael Kors to inspire her and her designs in the store.

The boutique maintains its’ admirable status by constantly adding and changing the collection of clothing, creating lots of variety. “Cynthia actually makes some of the dresses and other clothes in the store by hand. I never see anyone else wearing the clothes I buy there because there are limited quantities available for each design,” said senior Natalie Dorsey.

Not only does Cynthia Rae Dress Code sell edgy dresses, ripped-up jeans, and embellished tops, the shop also features a variety of handbags, jewelry, and other funky accessories. The store sells designer look-a-likes, such as Chanel rings, Juicy Couture necklaces, and Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses. “I go to Cynthia Rae before anywhere else to find a great bag,” said senior Annabelle Javellana, “I always find one that’s unique with lots of color and personality, and the price is a lot better than ones sold at other stores at the mall. Right now, I am in love with their big totes.”

The stylish girls who work at Cynthia Rae enjoy having the chance to work in a creative environment. They are extremely helpful when creating new looks for their clientele. Their job also requires them to model for the store’s website and fashion shows, create inspiring looks for the mannequins, and dress just as trendy as Cynthia herself. “All of the employees are very personable, and they are like my personal shoppers. They create outfits that fit your specific style perfectly. They definitely are experienced and seem to love working there,” said Dorsey.

This store is truly a fashion experience. “I love the atmosphere, it’s really trendy with cool events through out the year,” said junior Anne Kluis. The boutique takes part in Excelsior’s “Girl’s Night Out” event every Thursday all summer long. Along with the great sidewalk sales, Cynthia Rae puts on crazy fashion shows using the streets of Excelsior as the runway. Hundreds of women show up to see the employees and local customers model the boutique’s designs.

Cynthia Rae Dress Code can be found at 244 Water Street, Excelsior — its chock-full of personality and color, check it out!