Shades of Linen Clothing in Naramata is the boutique equivalent of the Cheers bar, only better. Everyone knows your name…and your size. In business for more than 20 years, Diane Jensen designs and makes natural fibre clothing on-site that perfectly embodies Naramata’s relaxed lifestyle. Diane and her design assistant Cayli Hindmarch, create casually elegant, timeless clothes that you can put on in the morning and wear out to dinner the same evening with the addition of a few accessories.
The shop, likes its linen pants, tunics, dresses, jackets and blouses, reflects the spirit of the Village. Clients are greeted with a warm smile and left alone to browse while Diane and Cayli work in the sewing room. They reappear to chat, answer questions or start a fitting room. “I don’t like the expression that someone is good at selling,” says Diane. “Why push? We let the product sell itself.”
Another favourite this year, is this nautical stripe top, which pairs well with white or black linen pants. “The smartest thing I’ve done is to make two beautifully fitting styles of pants and make them year after year,” says Diane. “They are a customer favourite and they know they can always come back for more pairs and they are going to fit just the same.”
Fit is also key to the success of Shades of Linen. The designs are well-thought out in the first place to fit comfortably and flatter almost anyone and because they were made in- house, they can be custom fit, and the best part…custom fit for no extra charge. Who does that anymore? My mother-in-law is a typical customer. She saw a jacket she liked but wanted it in black. Voila, a few days later it was ready. Often this transaction happens through the mail where Diane will even send fabric swatches for customers to choose from.
Diane started designing and sewing in her teens. “I got some pale pink denim when I was 13 and made my own pants. I had a treadle machine at home. After many alterations I wore them and was hooked on sewing since.”
Cayli says she learned to sew at about the same age and went straight for the dress racks, trying them on and posing, when she was a little girl.
Diane has always used natural fibres, like linen, both for the look and feel of the lovely fabrics and because its not hard on the land to produce them. The shop also includes an expanding men’s section.
The shopping experience is just that, an experience. “One customer told me, ‘You know, it’s like you are telling a story here. It’s not like walking into any other store I know.'” You are greeted with the sounds of 20 and 30s jazz and the smell of lavender from the French soaps she imports. Shades of Linen Clothing is decked out with fun antiques and accessories and the displays are constantly updated. The store has room to roam with comfortable change rooms located in the sale room at the back where you can peak in on the sewing room which is stacked with fabrics, festooned with colourful bobbins of thread and patterns in comfortably organized chaos.
My hat collector mode went into overdrive on my visit. Most are for sale and some vintage ones add to the layered eclectic look that keeps browsers entertained while the shoppers do their thing.
A strong loyal clientele has learned of the special shop largely through word-of-mouth with many taking a special trip to Shades of Linen Clothing from as far away as Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops. Summer wine touring visitors stumble on the shop and walk away with bags, amazement and become ambassadors in word-of-mouth club.
When ready to buy, that’s fun too. Your receipt is hand-written and the garments carefully wrapped for you in black or green tissue.
Did you know? Naramata has resident peacocks. This one happened to stroll by the store as I was leaving. He clearly has good taste.