Variety of Women’s Life-Style Clothing Now Available at New Bella Boutique
Fashion was a passion for Christina DiDonato from the time she was a young girl. The creativity and ingenuity involved in putting together stylish outfits intrigued and inspired her at an early age.
Now, she has been able to fulfill her dream of having her own women’s boutique, where she can help customers achieve their own fashion look.
Bella Boutique opened in the Princeton Shopping Center in April, and it has been an immediate success. “We have been so busy,” says Ms. DiDonato, with a smile. “The customer response has been incredible, and it has definitely exceeded our expectations.”
Co-owner with her husband Adriano DiDonato, who is general manager and buyer at the popular food emporium Bon Appetit, also in the Princeton Shopping Center, Ms. DiDonato is very pleased to be in this location. “A big plus here is the easy accessibility and very convenient parking for customers. Also, Adriano is an entrepreneur, and he encouraged me to do my own thing. He and I both have an intense work ethic, so we were ready to take this on.”
It was also very important for Ms. DiDonato to offer a uniquely pleasing environment for her shoppers. The boutique’s setting, with stone-paneled walls and Mediterranean-style motif, provides a very comfortable sense of space in a relatively small area. The fitting rooms with wrought iron appointments add to the overall charm of the boutique’s inviting ambiance.
“This spot was available in the shopping center, and we wanted to be most effective in a small amount of space,” explains Ms.DiDonato, who also designed the interior. “I love piecing together outfits all day, and I loved piecing together the room. I knew I wanted texture, and I wanted to have stone as part of the interior.
“I wanted a Mediterranean feel in my design — that’s my theme,” she continues. “The inspiration for the decor is Italy and Greece, reflecting Adriano’s and my roots personally. There are photos on the wall that I took in Italy, with the stone creating a Roman yet modern texture, along with succulents, other plants, wood, dark leather, etc.
Mixing materials to create an intriguingly unexpected look interests her, she adds. “For example, I love to mix fur with cashmere and leather.”
Ms. DiDonato’s prior experience as a buyer and manager at Rouge, the popular women’s shop on Witherspoon Street, has been important to her in establishing her own place, she points out. And she is pleased that her former colleague, Crista Baker, is now manager at Bella Boutique.
“The experiences at Rouge were invaluable to our success here. Crista and I always had a good time at Rouge, and it’s so nice we can come together in this new adventure. People associate us together.”
And what customers associate with Bella Boutique is its wonderful selection of high end fashion choices. Its sizes, small through large, and styles are attractive to women of all ages, says Ms. DiDonato. “We appeal to all ages. Moms bring in their teen daughters, and we have granddaughters coming in with grandmothers. It’s everyone!”
What customers like is the variety, style, and comfort of the selection. “We are really filling a need in Princeton,” explains Ms. DiDonato. “Our clothes are life-style, contemporary day-to-evening, and very transitional. It’s futuristic fashion, comfortable, yet trendy,
“Fashion today is across the board,” she continues. “It’s personal freedom. Long to short in length. Dresses are mini to maxi to full length. It’s everything.”
Among the important designers at Bella Boutique are Velvet, AG Jeans, 360 Sweater, Joie, Calypso St Barth, Sundry Rory Becci, Yoana Baraschi, Tart, and Brochu Walker. Also, Gigi NY handbags, made in New York, and Joie and Jack Rogers shoes.
“It’s an eclectic mix of designers, and most are American,” reports Ms. DiDonato.
Versatility and flexibility are key, she adds. “Many of the dresses can be worn by slender or by more full-figured women, and we have tunics that can be worn as dresses by a petite person or as cover-ups on someone taller.”
One example is a charming Calypso mint green tunic with white embroidery at the neck and hem. Another wonderful Calypso tunic in sand features gold sequins at the neck and on the sleeves.
A super-soft fine-gauged cashmere sweater in white from Velvet is an absolute “must have”, and the line of T-shirts from Good hYouman offers a variety of colors, featuring sentiments, such as “Family/Everything”, “Breathe”, and “Care”. A portion of the T-shirt sales goes to cancer research.
Soft denim jeans, including the favored distressed look, continue to be very popular, and as Ms. DiDonato points out regarding the latter, “The most popular question I get is, ‘Am I too old for this?’ to which I respond, ‘It’s all in how you style it.’ I wouldn’t pair distressed jeans, a crop top, and six-inch heels together for a mother or grandmother. I would style those same jeans with a longer, loose-fitting silk tank and sleek, flat sandals. I always tell my customers, ‘it’s how you wear it, not a question of if you can.”
Color is very important for summer, she adds. “It is definitely the most colorful season. We’re seeing a lot of mint green, and the cold colors, such as blue, purple, and gray are always in demand. Also, black and navy are always in style and always popular. Spring and summer are definitely times that we see the most color and get to play with the fun pastels and trend hues. Also, fringe is another big item right now.”
Accessories include scarves, handbags, shoes, belts, hat, and jewelry, all selected with Ms. DiDonato’s emphasis on style and fashion forward expertise.
Scarves always complete the fashion statement, and there are many special choices, including large cashmere wraps. “These can double as a regular scarf, but they are important in a variety of ways even in summer,” she explains. “They can come in handy on a cool summer night, on an airplane, in overly-cool air conditioning, etc.”
The jewelry selection includes the Tai line from Thailand, and Ms. DiDonato is hard put to keep the bracelets, earrings, and necklaces in the store. “The open bracelets, especially, have been incredibly popular. They come in different colors and shapes, and make a great gift, priced under $100.”
She notes that while the shop offers a higher end selection, items are competitively priced.
“What I especially want people to know is that our success and customer service is based on honesty. Our priority is the customer and making sure she has the right outfit for her. This is a fashion intelligent time, and many customers want to have right look. They often ask us for advice, and say they need something for a party or special event, and I enjoy helping them so much. I love styling people from head to toe! It can be very creative, and so often, over time, the customers become friends.”
And, adds proud husband Mr. DiDonato, “One of the things I love about Christina is that she is very friendly and easy to get along with, as well as being so creative. She is a very genuine person, and customers will appreciate that about her too.”
Bella Boutique is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m. (609) 454-5680.