It's New to Us by Jean Stratton

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FORWARD FASHION: "Our look is contemporary. We have everything from casual jeans and T-shirts to some suiting and semi-formal. The focus is texture, fabric, and color." The team at Honey West includes from left, co-owner Marisa Perini, store manager and model Lauren Smith, and co-owner Annie Perini.

Colorful New Palmer Square Shop Highlights Savvy Women's Fashion

Honey West, the popular new women's shop, has found a home at 63 Palmer Square West, having opened its doors in September. Its lineage, however, dates back to the 1960s, explain owners and sisters Marisa and Annie Perini.

"The name 'Honey West' comes from a TV show in the '60s. She was the first female detective on TV, and she was stylish and savvy."

That characterization can certainly describe the sisters and their store. New Hope, Pa. residents, they know Princeton well. Annie is a fashion designer, formerly manager of Smith Bros. in Princeton and a designer with Anthropologie.

Marisa, a lawyer, practiced for two years in litigation.

"I went to school for fashion design and have been in retail," says Annie. "I always wanted to have a woman's shop, and I wanted to have it in Princeton. I knew the customers here, and it's a suitable market for what we have in mind. It's a good match."

Marisa is involved in the business end of the operation, and helps in the buying as well.

Informal Styles

"I have always loved fashion, and Annie and I loved to play dress up as little girls," she explains. "Now, we buy together, but Annie takes the lead. We are so different, we complement each other. I am really seeing Annie in her element. She is so good at this. Her designs have appeared on the cover of two of Anthropologie's catalogs, and the fact that she is a designer really sets Honey West apart."

Stepping inside the cozy, inviting shop, customers will find a fun selection of lively informal styles from West Coast designers.

"We emphasize quality and lines from smaller and up and coming designers that the market is not saturated with," explains Annie. "Our inventory is different from anything nearby. You don't see these lines around here, but a lot of movie stars wear them. They are often the first to wear them, since they're in California.

"Aesthetically, I like something simple, but not plain. A special touch can make it different."

For example, points out Marisa: "a simple crew neck sweater, but embellished with elbow patches that are fun and functional; another crew neck sweater with buttons at the neck for accent, and a fleece blazer with rhinestone buttons.

"Also," she continues, "we carry a lot of denim with an excellent fit. All our jeans have an engineered fit. That is, each jean is fitted for a certain body type. It could be that the denim is cut on an angle, or it's where the flair starts, where the boot cut fits, where the risers are. They are all different to meet different needs."

Sizes range from extra small to extra large, and among the lines carried are Primp, Notify, and Susanna Monaco. Trina Turtle will arrive soon.

Cashmere sweaters and denim are very popular with customers, report the sisters, as are active wear, sweat suits, and bright colors, such as green, purple, and pink.

All Ages

"Our clothes go from high school up to all age ranges," adds Marisa. "We have career clothes and separates and some outerwear. Our customers are all ages, including one who is 80!"

Honey West also has an intriguing selection of accessories, such as hats, handbags, and colorful jewelry. Handbags by Tylie Malibu, Allison Burns, and Jewels By Julie Kapp bags and Lollie Bags are all available.

"Jewelry is very popular with our customers, report the partners. "The jewelry is a blend of different looks, from big and chunky to delicate and refined. We aim toward a variety of different tastes. Among our designers are Michal Negrin ‹ for a vintage look with rings and necklaces ‹ and Tara Tarantino."

Prices at Honey West cover a wide range, from $20 and up. Jewelry starts at $25.

The Perini sisters have been very encouraged by the customer response in such a short time. "We already have lots of repeats, and everyone has been so supportive. We have a great location, and we really like our space. It's very cozy. We enjoy meeting everyone and watching people get excited when they come in and see what we have.

"We also have a relaxed atmosphere. We have a light touch. We are very 'animal- and kid-friendly', People are welcome to bring in their children and pets."

Great Eye

"Also, there is no pressure on people to buy," says Marisa, "and we want everyone to feel welcome. If asked, we will give advice, and some people really want us to be by their side, helping out. This is something Annie, especially, is so good at. She has such a great eye and is a great help to people."

"I love to be able to pick out things and then see people enjoy what I have chosen," adds Annie.

This "fashion forward" store definitely has a 'now' look, with stylish displays and contemporary lighting, which is softened by chandeliers and pink and white walls. Customers enjoy browsing and the chance for interaction with the staff.

Honey West also features clever, colorful windows, designed by Annie. For example, on Election Day, the theme was red, white, and blue. A colorful curtain with American flag motif depicted a voting booth, three figures were assembled nearby, and a sign signaled: "Voting is Hot ... Right now!"

Gift certificates and gift wrapping are offered, and the shop is open Monday through Thursday 10 to 6, Friday and Saturday until 8:30, Sunday 12 to 6, (609) 688-1914.

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