Exploring Beyond the Hedges: Montrose Shop, Montrose

I'll be starting a new series, "Exploring Beyond the Hedges," in which I document all the cool local businesses I visit around Houston. Either fashion or lifestyle influences, or both, I hope to collect a list of boutiques readers can visit to shop or just see what Houston is all about!

Westheimer Road. One of the most hip streets of Houston, teeming with people on foot and in cars, and cluttered with great cafes and trendy boutiques. I assume just about one hundred percent of our student body knows of Common Bond and American Apparel, but how many have taken the risk of exploring the other local boutiques? A few feet down from Common Bond, nestled in between more prominent (in size and color) stores is a little old, white house with a newly hung sign, "Montrose Shop." If you were to try to peek inside from the street, you'd mistake this for someone's home, or a works in progress. On the contrary, the shop is open for business, and encourages that you drop in and say hi, take a look, or just hang out for a bit!

If given three words to describe the entirety of Montrose Shop, it would be "less is more," says TuVy Nguyen, Montrose's store manager . I had the honor of sitting down for a short chat with the Louisianian native and got to know both TuVy and Montrose Shop a little more. Interestingly enough, the co-owners Kim Nguyen and Juley Le are also NOLA based, which made me wonder how they came to establish business in Houston, specifically Montrose. Turns out, Nguyen had previously owned a boutique around the River Oaks area. She found the old white house, which was previously an antiques store, and snagged it up in hopes of opening a new clothing store with a different concept from the last one. Nguyen then went to Le for help in conceptualizing, found out that they both had similar taste and ideals for the shop, and thus the business partnership was born.

Montrose Shop is a "closet+home" boutique, currently carrying women's clothing, men's and women's accessories, skincare products, prints, throws, candles, etc. If this were Yelp, I'd give them the "$$$" rating, most of the clothing and accessories are around $70 up to $500. However, their home and skincare products are definitely in the more affordable range, and I've pinned Montrose to the top of my gift shop list. The meticulously curated list of brands include: Brandy Pham accessories, Emerson Fry shoes, Negative Underwear, Daniel Wellington watches, Grown Alchemist skincare, be-poles, etc. (The full list can be found on their website, montroseshop.com.) Adding to the appeal of exclusiveness, they are one of the handful of brick and mortars who carry Negative Underwear and Daniel Wellington. All of these brands may be lesser known, but they are all American or French brands, with the best craftsmanship. 

I asked TuVy what her response would be to the people who scoff at Montrose's high end pricing, and her answer closely aligned with my own ideas about luxury brands. "We're trying to find the perfect tee, the perfect pair of pants, etc. You can stop hunting for the perfect whatever because we've done the work for you, and it's here. Juley has one of the sheer white tee shirts that we carry, and she's worn it for five years. And it hasn't changed in softness or quality," she said. I thought of T by Alexander Wang, but slightly more affordable. Montrose caters to the "woman who knows herself," as TuVy put it. She walks into the shop knowing what to expect, and knows what she's looking for. The brands they carry may be lesser known, but the quality is top notch. "You get what you paid for," she reminded me.

As for her personal style, TuVy admits that she was the regular college fashionista who wore loud colors and bold prints. Bodycon dresses and the like, all fit for the transition into and early twenties. However, she says that since signing on as Montrose's store manager, her style has evolved, and she's definitely constantly inspired by the Montrose Shop aesthetic. (I was too!) Now, she's wearing more black/white/nudes, crisp lines and the "occasional pop of color." Does she have a favorite item/list of must haves from the shop? Basically, all of it.  

Personally, I've gotten gifts for myself and my friends and family here, and we all love our little treasures! Montrose introduced me to Grown Alchemist, an Australian skincare brand with THE most fabulous lip balm. Watermelon vanilla is a genius scent and they have a miracle formula that keeps your lips hydrated for hours! I also splurged on a set of be-poles pencils because they were too beautiful not to pick up, and let me tell you... they write so smooth, they practically glide.

A huge thank you to TuVy for letting me hang around and be nosy! And to the reader, thank you for joining me on this tour, I hope you stick around to see more!


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