Hip and Classy

That’s this maven’s mantra when it comes to dress.

Mindi Moore Tunnell is head over heels
for her bronze Manolos.
Photograph by Luigi Ciuffetelli


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Manolos—in Millsboro?

You betcha, if Mindi Moore Tunnell is on the prowl.

“I just got my first pair,” the 26-year-old real estate attorney gushes. “I finally see what the fuss is about.”

The T-strap style heels, a brilliant bronze with a dash of gold-toned rhinestones, had her feet all a flutter when she paired them with an Alexander McQueen butterfly-themed evening dress for a recent art auction.

Tunnell has a bit of a high heel hang-up.

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“People always say the same thing about me: if I’m not exercising or walking on the beach, I’m in heels,” she says. “I trot out the open-toed heels in the middle of winter.”

Being an integral part of the downstate benefit circuit, we forgive her fashion faux pas. “I’m a part of a lot of charity functions, so my style tends to be more upscale: dressy tops and dresses,” Tunnell says.

For casual events, the 5-foot-3 blonde finds it difficult to find a fashion must-have: fabulous jeans.

“I need enough length to cover my shoes, but not make me look like I don’t have feet,” she says. “And I don’t like jeans that stretch. There’s nothing worse than having your waistband stretched out by the end of the night.”

When rocking denim and heels (natch) she ups the funk with a wild, colorful shirt.

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“I want people to look at me and think, ‘She looks fun, young and hip, but still classy,’” she says.

With a little help from celeb muse Reese Witherspoon, Tunnell pulls the look off effortlessly. Unlike the Hollywood hipster, however, Tunnell doesn’t trifle with high fashion name games.

“If I’m familiar with a brand, I’ll notice it, but I have a hodgepodge style,” she says.

Kind of like her makeup—“everything from drug-store eyeliner to Crème de la Mer moisturizer, which I can’t live without,” she says.

Lucky for Tunnell, she lives near the chic boutiques on Rehoboth Avenue.

“I love a place that actually gives you service,” she says. “I remember as a little girl shopping with my mother. The ladies knew her exact size and style. She didn’t have to leave the dressing room. You don’t get that anymore, but stores like South Moon Under, Carltons and Angel Shack are great with personal service.”

But please don’t ask her to decide which store is her favorite.

Tunnell isn’t great at making reasonable fashion decisions.

After a trip to Jennifer’s in Hockessin to find a wedding gown, she fell head over heels in love with two.

“I wore one to the ceremony, which was a more traditional gown, and I wore
a fitted, beaded gown to the reception,” she says.

And what did Mr. Tunnell think of her unorthodox purchases?

“He changed his suit between the ceremony and the reception, too,” she says with a laugh. “He has a great eye for fashion. He’ll kill me for admitting that.”

At the end of the day, Tunnell says she has only one punishable fashion offense:

“I really do wear heels at inappropriate times,” she admits, “to the point where I wonder, ‘Why did I make this decision?’”

A girl could do worse.

—Amy Kates


For style in the sand, try the Jonni Lawn shirt
by Lilly Pulitzer from the Wilmington Country Store.

Tropical vacation in the near future? DT’s super shopper hits the mother lode of Lilly. Gentlemen, she’s got you covered, too.
by Amy Kates

Before you had time to properly put away your linen, winter crept in to rear its ugly, freezing head. For some of us, there isn’t much to love about January that doesn’t come in cashmere.

So do the natural thing: Hit the high seas—in high style, of course.

Delaware is full of chic stores to keep you looking fabulous as you hop from island to island on a tropical cruise. The Swim Shop (2115 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 575-1224) is the answer to all your swimsuit needs. Tankinis, bikinis, sensible one-pieces and swimming trunks for men, plus gear for kids, make this independent shop a great alternative to the mall.

Panama Jack products range from sunscreen lotion to towels to floppy straw hats to keep that St. Thomas sun from burning your face.

For those downstate, check out California Sunshine (56 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-7080; 1840 Ocean Outlets, Rehoboth Beach, 226-3808) for a colorful selection of suits by makers such as Anne Cole, La Blanca and more.

If you’re not ready to take the plunge in a wild, leopard print bikini, take baby steps instead. A flirty sarong knotted over a conservative suit can be just as sexy as leopard any day.

You may be on vacation, but it’s a faux pas to roam the decks in a swimsuit and flip-flops every day. Lucky for you, the Wilmington Country Store (4013 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 656-4409) has you covered. The sparkly Eileen Fisher bolero jackets make for a great accent piece on a chilly night, and the leopard- and zebra-inspired watches will ensure you don’t miss your boat.

But the real prize at the Greenville shop is its selection of Lilly Pulitzer resort wear. Ladies, I suggest trying on the Jonni Lawn shirt for the beach. It’s sleek, sensual and screams Caribbean cool. Pair it with a bracelet or two from Lilly’s accessories line and you’ll find smooth sailing.

Don’t worry, guys—the store has you taken care of, too. If you refuse to give in to the “real men wear pink” credo—no matter how much your significant other begs—how about a truce? Upgrade your plain white button down with a Lilly tie to add a gorgeous splash of color that will make your lady happy while you maintain your fashion ethics.

While you’re there, get your hands on lines like Tommy Bahama, Vineyard Vines and Eliza B sandals from Leatherman Ltd.

Delaware is also home to one Lilly signature store, Tickled Pink! (235 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-7575), which features the entire line of Lilly Pulitzer Lifestyle. If you can’t find it there, you can’t find it anywhere.

The days in port are fantastic, but on formal nights, you can really let your personal style take center stage. A great place to start is Lady’s Image (439 Hockessin Corner, Hockessin, 234-3331; 3910 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-7921). The dress selection is fantastic. Elegant beading, taffeta layers, polka dots, silks, wild prints and subdued but sexy styles make it near impossible for a woman to not find exactly what she has in mind.

You’re good to go from head to toe, but clothes aren’t all you’ll need to pack. To battle that humid tropical air, drop into Fabrizio Salon & Spa in Trolley Square (1604 W. 16th St., Wilmington, 656-8660) to crib a bottle of Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray. Just shower, spritz the spray onto wet hair and—voila—you’re transformed into a beach goddess.

And, of course, consider the brutal sun. Coming back bronzed is half the fun, but be safe. Happy Harry’s carries Neutrogena Micro Mist tanning spray and L’Oreal Sublime Bronze towelettes. Low on streaking, these products will give you a fast, natural looking tan.

Bon voyage.

Frostbite is not a Color
Bootie Pies offer the best solution for protection after leaving the spa with a brand-new pedicure.

Ladies, we men try to understand the burdens you bear—the pain of childbirth, having to put up with your man watching reruns of “According to Jim.”

But there is still that true, secret pain you keep ever hidden from us: that of leaving the pedicurist in the dead of winter wearing nothing but flip-flops.

Never mind that we guys can’t really understand why you need soft and pretty feet when they’re just going to be jammed into Timberlands for two more months. We are evolved, modern men, thus look past the seeming insanity of going nearly barefoot by using sympathy and understanding.

That’s why for Valentine’s Day this year, we’re tracking down those wacky Bootie Pies we saw while stopping along the cable dial to admire Rachel Ray on our way to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

What a great idea: Winter boots that are suede on the outside, fleece on the inside, with a collapsible patent leather toe that lets your lovely piggies poke out while they’re being polished.

“The worst part about getting a pedicure in the wintertime is you wait [for the polish to dry] and you’re still going to freeze because you put on your flip flops to go outside,” says Chris Ballas, owner of Christina’s Unique Accessories & More in the Talleyville Town Shoppes on Silverside Road in Wilmington.

She obviously knows your pain better than we and has seriously weighed the value of lovely digits versus potential frostbite.

Now a Bootie Pies retailer, Ballas suggests that one $128 pair could possibly replace your normal winter boots, provided you waterproof the suede as the manufacturer recommends.

Let’s hope so. Otherwise we’ll just have to chop the toes off a pair of Timberlands.

—Scott Pruden

Wendy Stewart

Tailored to a T
Meet the folks who make the clothes that make the men and women who wear them.

Buying off the rack leads to unwelcome fashion intrusions. Fortunately, these Delawareans can fix your wardrobe woes by assembling something just for you.

Sara Crawford The wizard behind Anara Original Design’s curtain, Crawford, of New Castle, designs trend-setting threads with a city vibe, but the custom work she does comes from the client. “The piece begins with a client’s vision,” Crawford says. “I’ll set up an appointment at a coffee shop and we go over size, color, style, shape.” Crawford makes anything from prom dresses to jackets. She says the biggest hurdle is ensuring the design clients choose fits their body. “People can’t assume everything in Hollywood will look good,” she says. “It’s important to stand out, and you don’t have to go out of Delaware to make that happen.” Find her at anaraoriginal.com.

Paul Stike “Corporate casual—who came up with that term?” asks Stike, whose M.O. is to revive the art of dressing. Though he remembers one female client in particular—“a lawyer who wanted to look like one of the guys”—he caters to men only. “If a guy says, ‘I want a pleat, I want a flat front,’ I know what that means,” Stike says. “But not skirts.” Stike, of Newark-based Stike & Associates, has “always played around with clothing.” After bouncing around custom clothing stores for years, he set out on his own. “My clients are usually traditional,” he says. “I carry about 3,500 swatches. Forty percent are some shade of gray. The other 40 percent are some shade of navy.” He does suits, tuxedos, sport coats, shirts—even shoes. “Casual used to be a navy blazer. Now a tie and even a collar is optional. But I think we’re returning to dress.” Call Stike at 292-2202.

Wendy Stewart Stewart starts work at 6 a.m. She stops when she can tear herself away from the sewing machine. “This is irreplaceable,” she says. Her relationship with the machine is one of her longest: It was a Christmas gift from her father when she was 5. It’s that old-school tenacity that makes Wendy’s Professional Alterations Custom Tailoring & Dressmaking in Wilmington a stalwart of the Delaware custom scene. “People come from as far away as D.C. to see me,” she says. One of her favorite pieces is a wedding gown she made for her niece, which had 125 buttons down the back. “We took the top of one dress she saw and paired it with the bottom of another dress.” Another favorite is a reproduction of the Guy Laroche navy dress with the plunging back that Hilary Swank wore to the 2005 Oscars. Stewart also makes swim suits, jackets, christening outfits and Halloween costumes. “This is a God-given talent, and I am thankful every day,” she says. Find Stewart at 993-0663. —Amy Kates

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