Whenever I'm feeling down and need a sparkly, pretty pick-me-up, or when I'm feeling generous toward one of the many wonderful women in my life, or when I'm feeling festive, because hey, it's the holidays, or, let's be honest, anytime really, I pop into my favorite little shop on Durham's 9th Street.
It's not much bigger than the box of secret treasures I kept under my bed as a young girl and every time I walk through the door, I get the same, familiar feeling I did when I sifted through those prized possessions. Maybe that's why it's called Vaguely Reminiscent.
A fancy vintage cocktail ring from Grandma? They've got something like that. A journal for my private thoughts? Of course. A goofy gag gift from my best friend? Yep, they've got that too.
The place is cramped, brimming floor to ceiling with quirky merchandise. There's clothing and shoes, books and stationery, socks, toys, tights, headbands, handbags, sunglasses, you name it. It's where I find the perfect card for every birthday, the perfect pair of earrings for my mother every Christmas and the perfect windchime for each and every housewarming party in a city where the porch is the thing.
You have to look up, down and all around or you'll surely miss something in this off-beat little shop.
I especially love:
- the pashmina scarves, which often run on special and are available in just about any color you could possibly imagine;
- the grapefruit-scented L'epi Provence hand cream that gives a fresh citrus blast to those dry winter hands; and
- the dainty, distinctive Holly Yashi earrings handcrafted in California by designers with a love for colorful crystals, pearls and glass and unusual Niobium metal, which, unlike silver and gold, can transform into a wide variety of vibrant hues.
Poke around, take your time and enjoy Bull City's jewel of a gift shop.
For every treasure mined at Vaguely Reminiscent, a girl needs something fashion-forward to round out her look. After all, style, like life, is all about balance.
That's where Magpie Boutique comes in.
Located in West Village in Durham's warehouse district, next to West End Wine Bar, Magpie is the ideal place to splurge on clothing and accessories, though there truly are items for any budget.
You might have to loosen your purse strings more than you normally would to, for example, slink into a to-die-for James Coviello frock with feather detail, but I promise you – you'll never look back.
Magpie's clothes are fun, flirty, wearable and versatile. They have exciting takes on the staples – denim, knitwear, tights and belts – and dresses that span the spectrum.
There are the jaw-dropping, alluring, once-in-a-lifetime pieces that will live in your closet until the most special of occasions and the bright and adorable mini-dresses that you'll want to wear all summer.
Their variety of flattering and body-conscious knits allow women of all shapes and sizes to look their best at work, out on the town or at brunch with girlfriends.
In my opinion, that's one of the greatest gifts you can give this holiday season – a little touch of fabulous, not just at Christmas, but for every day and every woman.