Carla's, Portland

Posted on November 19, 2012
By Mara Higgins

Elegant, high-quality women's clothing and accessories at Carla's on Fore Street.

Specialization: Elegant, high-quality women's clothing and accessories
Most Coveted Items: Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, Patty Kim fur-trimmed vest, Shyla Lightwear trench coat
Decor: Classy, sophisticated, and fun—gold chandeliers, exposed wood beams, animal print rugs
Notable Brands: Diane von Furstenberg, NYDJ (Not Your Daughter's Jeans), Lilla P, Saint James
Hours of Operation: Monday–Saturday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Sunday: 12 p.m.–5 p.m.

Mad Men, The Artist, and the new Great Gatsby. Film-inspired fashion continues to bring bygone eras into today's styles. I couldn't help by think of the feminism and glamour of the roaring 20s when I walked into Carla's on Fore Street. Front and center of the store was a mannequin topped with a classic cloche hat, tipped to the side just like on Carla's sign. I looked to my left and saw a vintage 1920s Vogue poster featuring a model in the very same style hat.

All of this sets the tone for Carla's. The exposed wood beams and golden chandeliers create a casual but elegant atmosphere, which is what the clothing at Carla's exemplifies. But don't think it's too buttoned-up. The leopard print rugs show that a Carla's girl still knows how to let loose and have some fun.

It was a chilly day when I visited the store, so I headed first to the outerwear. Right away I saw a hooded coat in one of my favorite colors of the season—mustard yellow. Being 100 percent alpaca wool, it was soft to the touch and boasted a cute a-line silhouette.

Next I pulled out an adorable trench. Classic, double-breasted shape from the front, but flip it around and it has a cute ruffle bottom hem. A bit of fur mixed in with the coats caught my eye. I pulled it out to discover a fabulous fur-trimmed vest. Take your classic puffy vest, add some fur and a grosgrain ribbon belt, and you have yourself an Aspen-worthy little number.

The dress rack was next, and the first one I spotted was by none other than the incomparable Diane von Furstenberg. What a pleasant surprise to find out that Carla's carries one of my favorite brands! The manager told me that they had just picked up the line, and I have to say they began with a great selection. My favorites were the stone grey lace shift with leather trim and the iconic wrap dress in one of DVF's gorgeous prints. The best thing about DVF? Anyone at any age can wear her.

For more casual wear, Carla's has even hopped on the denim trend, with colored denim by NYDJ. They carry printed denim as well, but in subtle enough patterns that anyone can pull them off.

The icing on the cake at this boutique is the staff and service. Carla's prides itself on both the quality of their clothing and the level of customer service they provide. The staff are not "salespeople." Rather, they are "personal shoppers" who can help outfit you from head to toe.

Between the personal service and tasteful collection of clothing, it's no wonder Carla's has been on Fore Street for almost 15 years. I have a feeling the pink sign with the tipped hat won't be going anywhere anytime soon.


414 Fore St. | Portland | 207.879.6306 | carlasonline.com
30 Ocean Ave. | Kennebunkport | 207.967.2206 | carlasonline.com