If you go
What: Fashion's Night Downtown Boulder
When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4
Where: Pearl Street, from Eighth to 18th streets, in Boulder
Tip: Pick up a map at a participating shop or print it from fndboulder.com and you'll find a coupon good for two hours of free parking after 5 p.m. at select parking garages.
This isn't your hippie mama's Boulder anymore.
Over the past few years, the city that once was notorious for being one of the least fashionable in the nation has made focused efforts to turn around that fugly ship. At the helm: the Downtown Boulder Business Improvement District, representing the growing number of fashion-forward boutiques on and around Pearl Street.
Sure, there's still the expected tie-dye broomskirts and Crocs on the mall. But there's also Marc Jacob and Kate Spade handbags, high-end denim, diamonds, pop-up shops and flash sales and exclusive trunk shows.
Get out Thursday for the fourth annual Fashion's Night Downtown Boulder, where you'll see the top fall fashions and the evolving face of Boulder's fashion scene at a free, outdoor fashion show on Pearl Street, in front of the Municipal Building.
Then follow the models to their respective shops, where some will be holding limited-time sales, handing out gift certificates and door prizes, offering food and filling the streets with live music.
The celebration runs 6-9 p.m. and is free to the public.
The event began as a local extension of Vogue's Fashion's Night Out, which launched in New York in 2009 in conjunction with fall's Fashion Week. It quickly spread to hundreds of cities around the country — before event organizers canceled all events to focus on two locations, New York and Los Angeles, says Terri Takata-Smith, director of marketing and communications for Downtown Boulder.
Boulder decided to continue the celebration, and the changes ended up benefiting local shops, Takata-Smith says.
Now, Boulder isn't bound by Fashion's Night Out's rules — in particular, a limit on big discounts and sales.
Many of the 26 local participating shops will offer sales this year, Takata-Smith says.
Fall fashions to watch for
• A new take on Toms: Try nude high-heel wedges from Toms with a tonal logo, available at Savvy.
• Attack of the knit: Knitwear is a huge trend for fall, according to Style.com. Look for nubby scarves, sweater dresses, even cozy, knit pants.
• House coat-influenced outerwear: The "robe coat" is big this fall, says Elle.com. Yeah, they look a lot like bathrobes. But pick one in a bright color or funky pattern and consider it a more relaxed take on the peacoat.
• A masculine influence: Boulder stylist Marian Rothschild is excited about classic blazers (paired with anything from jeans to a dress) and men's style leather oxfords, which are not only cute but comfortable. "With a rounded toe and short, 1-inch heels, these flats let you walk for miles, without having to stop for blister pads," Rothschild says. "Wear them with no-see-'em socks and jeans rolled up once at the bottom, or with short skirts for a sporty, fun feel."
Several newer shops on the west end of Pearl (Fjallraven, Goorin Bros. Hat Shop, Earthbound Trading Co. and the longer-standing Shoe Fly) are organizing a block party "sidewalk jam," with live music, sweets and giveaways.
"One of the best comments we hear after this event ... is they discover shops they've walked by 100 times," Takata-Smith says.
Anna Salim, event director, recommends branching off the main drag to explore some of the shops on side streets, such as the new Explicit Streetwear on 13th Street, Nod and Rose on Spruce and the nearby Zeal Optics sunglasses shop.
"Sometimes people don't get on those side streets," Salim says. "They always throw a good party also."