Backwoods, located at 315 west 57 street…

Backwoods, located at 315 west 57 street (212 459 2975) is a 41/2 year old shop owned by John Ruesch and Darren Wernick, which has developed a loyal following and clientele due to its location and great selection of inexpensive and summer perfect cotton skirts, kurtas, shawls, scarves (many with an ethnic feeling – especially the beaded and tie dyed items), not to mention accessories, jewelry, bags, and home furnishings, all priced under $30 (the bulk is between $10 and $ 20). Almost everything is made expressly for the shop and carries the label, Backwoods.

John told me that his most popular and best selling items are the lightweight, Indian made cotton gauze skirts with just enough fullness to make them breezy (some have horizontally layered panels on top which give the torso a very trim look), which are available in a wide assortment of colors and color combinations, lengths, and silhouettes, and almost all are priced at $20 (except for those that are beaded).

And if you are a fan of the popular and practical Longchamp folding nylon bags (which are perfect for summer travel and toting to the beach), but don’t want to spend upwards of $110, you might think of making a phone call to the West Coast. On a recent trip to the beautiful beach resort tof Half Moon Bay, right outside of San Francisco, I stopped into a charming gift shop called, appropriately, The Charmed Rose (650-712-1622) owned by Irene Contreras. The one item that really caught my eye was the group of gigantic, sturdy, folding nylon bags with the familiar brown handles and trim, in a large selection of colors and patterns, that I initially mistook for Longchamps…until I looked at the price tag ($19.99) and saw they were made by JoAnn Marie Designs..

They are available in about 20 colors (some of which change seasonally), including brown, black, and bright orange. They also come in bold awning stripes, over scaled florals, a black and white zebra pattern, and my favorite the brown toned ‘safari’ print (comprised of little monkeys, giraffes, elephants). With safari styles always being a perennial favorite (not to mention all the safari and bush jackets), this would be a perfect addition to one’s wardrobe. And at this price, you don’t have to decide on just one- you can afford to buy several! Just a note, there is also a $21 version that is the same size but has a long shoulder strap instead of the shorter one, and comes with its own detachable money pocket.

The store is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 6 pm and they will gladly ship to anywhere in the U.S.

However, if you are REALLY smart, the best place to buy them is right online, Not only will you pay $16.99, but shipping is free!

-Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.


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