An Oasis in the Sun

I feel like I haven't shopped in years. Seven, to be exact. Those who know me will just roll their eyes. That's like stating the impossible. But oh. If they only knew.

It might be my best kept secret. And style segments, blog entries and numerous consultations aside, it couldn't be more true. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I would hate to mislead. I've certainly done my fair share of shopping over these last seven years. Yet diapers, bouncy chairs, new sneakers, back to school clothes and underwear for my husband just doesn't cut it. Not in my book. And not in the book of any well-seasoned, savvy, materialistic gal who appreciates a good lipstick and knows her Milly from her Missoni and values a good Target knock-off.

If there is one thing I've learned over the last seven years, it's how to be an effective editor and become significantly more discerning when spending a hard-earned dollar. That's why when a pal mentioned Nordstrom Rack was coming to town, I felt a little tinge of excitement. Of hope. Of the feeling that maybe, just maybe, my time had come again.

So when May 15th came around and the other fabulous moms at the bus stop mentioned a caravan departing the moment the school bus pulled away, I was on board. In line. Ready to go. With my only rational ~ an impending wedding and no suitable dress ~ tucked squarely in my back pocket, I decided today was my day to go shopping.

As I pulled into the parking lot that used to be barren back in the days of Old Navy, I couldn't help but crack a smile. At the wee small hour of 9 a.m., there were cars as far as the eye could see, droves of ladies coming and going, and the thumping of DJ music emanating across the lot sealed the deal. For a fleeting moment, I resisted. I'm a pro after all. I know all the tricks. But then I relented. I gave in. To the fun. To the energy. To the possibilities.

I took a deep breath and threw my shoulders back. Nordstrom Rack, take me away. 



 A nautical look, weathered denim by Tory Burch. If only I were a size 2.


When a Nordstrom gal strolled by with a basket full of bottled water and mints and asked how my shopping was going, and by the way, would I like a refreshment? Well...I swooned. It was almost too much to bear.


The line was long but the anticipation was palpable. There were practically no fitting room limits, after all. Rumor had it you could bring 15 items in at a time. Did I mention they have a tailor on site? Ladies, they have all the bases covered...

 As seen in my fitting room. This is my vernacular. They are speaking my language. It must be kismet.


 I found the clearance racks to be the holders of great bounty and worthy of a little extra time and attention.



 My parting parcel, in a recycled shopping bag. Mission accomplished. Feeling, and perhaps even looking, simply divine.



Jill McGowan Retail for Christmas

Buying local has never been so chic. Especially during the holidays.

As the Christmas hustle and bustle reaches a crescendo, and your desire to purchase meaningful gifts quickly gets replaced with a sense of urgency and resignation that "anything will do," fear not. Jill McGowan Retail is the place to set your sights.


Jill McGowan Retail, located at 56 Main Street, Freeport

Shopping on Christmas Eve can be a charming experience if you consider your destination. Just pull away from all that South Portland gridlock and head north to Freeport. Jill's shop, located on the second story of 56 Main Street and across the street from Starbucks, is a beautiful spot filled to the brim with a luxe assortment of goods designed and/or made right here in Maine by some of our state's most talented designers and creative entrepreneurs.  



Festive window displays at Jill McGowan Retail in Freeport

The store front, street-level windows are a draw in and of themselves, thanks to her sister and partner Jolene, who works her creative magic throughout the store. Folks stop in their tracks if only to admire the engaging statements and alluring temptations within. Once inside, shoppers are granted a reprieve from the mayhem of outlet shopping and instead are treated to a rare assortment of extremely well-edited items ~ most notably, Jill's exquisite collection of tailored shirts and knits designed here in her Portland studio and made in the U.S.A. Her designs are sold in high-end boutiques and department stores nationwide, but it is only here in Freeport where one can peruse her complete collection. 


Jill McGowan,  showing one of her sought-after designs, the quintessential white shirt for women

"People came to Freeport for L. L. Bean for over 100 years," explains Jill, regarding her decision to open a store in the outlet-driven town. "There's a notion that it's all outlet shopping's not. It's like a trip to Mecca to come up and see Bean's. We're bringing new lines up here. We are bringing the genuine article to Freeport."


Made in the U.S.A and proud of it

Gifts both meaningful and indulgent await. The hedgehog pin cushion by Kurier featured in Jill's window is so over-the-top cute you'll want one even if you've never sewn a stitch in your life. Portia Clark's freshwater pearl necklaces and earrings are the perfect bauble for that someone special on your list. So perfect, in fact, you won't be able to resist picking up a little something extra just for you. Bold and beautiful pillows and throws from South Street Linens will leave you contemplating a new decor. The organic, superior quality and craftsmanship of the sustainable wool comfortwear from Ramblers Way is beyond compare and will become your new go-to line for everyday. Genuine authentic goods, and genuine Maine companies all.

After its first year in busines, just how is it going for Jill McGowan Retail in Freeport?

"It's doing fabulous," Jill says with a smile. "It's a destination."


A display of South Street Linens


Atop a table full of gift ideas, Portia's Pearl earrings are a stand out


And that adorable hedgehog. A must- have for every list!

So don't panic, dear last-minute shoppers. Rejoice and drive north for the trove of treasures that await, and savor the beauty of this fleeting season...

For more information, please contact  Jill McGowan Retail at 207.865.0909 or visit Jill McGowan online at







Pilcro Stet Slim Straight Patchwork Cord from Anthropologie, $148. A fun way to welcome the fall.


Oh Couture!

The stuff of which dreams are made...but then again, a trip to Paris might be nice!
A torrid love affair ~ Oscar de la Renta's Marigold silk taffeta gown, Spring 2012 Collection: $4,990. Black tulle floral embroidered caraco: $3,350.
Privileged class ~ Black bijoux pendant printed silk faille dress by Oscar de la Renta for Fall 2012: $2,590.
Piece de resistance ~ Oscar de la Renta's pink silk chiffon strapless gown: $12,567. One precise little number.