Know Thyself

Or let this personal shopper guide you. The key to looking good, she says, is finding what works.

Nicole Chudzinski doesn’t mind wearing a dress to the supermarket. Photograph by Phil Flynn Bad day?

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Chudzinski—Nicole Chudzinski. Personal Shopper Extraordinaire.

“My goal every day is to make each woman who walks in our door feel a little better about herself when she leaves,” says Chudzinski, who holds court every day at Bel Boutique in the heart of Downtown Dover. “And it’s actually really fun.”

Not to mention educational.

“You’ve really got to learn about what looks best on each person,” she says. “Sure, I can dress myself and I know what looks good for me, but I have to know what looks good on each and every one of our clients.”

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Those clients are steady on Chudzinski’s mind.

“When [owner] Erin [Tinsley] and I go to New York on buying trips, I can hold up a piece and know immediately who it will look best on,” she says.

A fashion savant, the Wesley grad would come back to Delaware after holiday breaks in her native New York wearing clothes that made everyone stare.

“I remember once being in a bar, wearing these knee-high furry boots a few years ago, and every girl was looking at me like I was ridiculous,” she says with a laugh. “But then they were everywhere on campus the following year.”

Chudzinski pads around Bel Boutique in chic flats, skinny jeans, a fitted T and a loosely knotted scarf most days, but when it comes to a night on the town, she reaches for one of her many breezy, bohemian-style frocks and layers on the chunky bracelets. On her feet go her wedges—“Usually Steve Madden. Somehow they make my feet look good”—and she’s off.

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From May to August her closet overflows with sundresses, her must-have summer accessory.

“I love that we’re at a point in fashion where I can wear a dress to the supermarket and not get stared at,” she says.

One of her faves is a cap-sleeved silk purple and pink paint-splash dress by BB Dakota. “It’s such a fun little pop of color,” she says.

Page 2: Know Thyself, continues…


BB Dakota joins fellow trendy labels such as Steve Madden, Miss Me Couture, Weston Wear and Kersh, all of which take up precious hanger space at Bel Boutique. Don’t forget !iT jeans—“Oprah’s favorite denim.” Nicole sighs in reverence. “These are flying off our racks.”

“Our clientele is essentially the trendy, cute soccer-mom set, the ones who want to wear flared jeans,” she says. “They don’t want revealing. They like to dress their age.”

This is an important mantra to Chudzinski, who, through dressing others, has taught herself a thing or two.

“I’m staying in my age group,” she says. “I’m young, but I don’t need to wear kiddish things.”

She sheepishly admits that, no matter how tepid their status becomes, she will forever pledge allegiance to her Uggs. One thing you won’t catch her in? Feathers.

“I just don’t get it,” she says. “Even on the couture dresses, it looks ridiculous.”

“I love that we’re at a point in fashion where I can wear a dress to the supermarket and not get stared at,” says Nicole Chudzinski.

Perhaps she should share that opinion with her fashion icon, Carrie Bradshaw, who sported a feather in her hair on her wedding day in her big-screen debut.

“I’m just not big on them,” she says. “But you can’t go wrong with Carrie. She catches everyone’s attention.”

Sounds just like a certain someone we know.

Page 3: Designer Deals


Michele Scott’s Designer Consigner offers big-ticket brands at small prices.Designer Deals

Michele Scott is one tough cookie. When the former marketing executive was downsized from Siemens Medical, she brushed herself off and started the kind of business she’d always dreamed of, Designer Consigner in Hockessin.

Scott’s marketing background and great sense of style proved a winning combination. She collected about 2,000 items before she opened. New items continue to roll in steadily.

Designer Consigner (7209 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, 239-4034) carries hundreds of designer handbags and pairs of shoes. Name a designer. Scott probably has it: Gucci, Prada, Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo. They’re all there. And the owner examines each gently used item to make sure it’s in good shape.

“We also carry brands like Talbots,” she says. “Our goal is to stock high-end items as well as store brands because we want to offer something for everyone.”

Scott is considering adding a line for men and children, and she may open a second store in Middletown or Newark soon.

New consigners deliver merchandise on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so the best days to shop are Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The store’s sunny yellow interior matches Scott’s personality. “I love working with people,” she says, “And I love the fact that they can get great deals and look fabulous.”  —Maria Hess