Shop Talk With Westchester’s Mary Jane Denzer
White Plains’ grand dame of the local retail scene shares her wisdom.
Mary Jane Denzer opened her eponymous high-fashion women’s boutique in White Plains 35 years ago. “I have young customers whose mothers—and grandmothers—are also customers,” she says. Now, with the store’s recent move down Mamaroneck Avenue to Renaissance Square, she lends us her advice on...
Identifying top trends: I go to the runway shows and the défilés—smaller, more intimate versions in the designer’s showroom. I’ll see a fabulous vest at Valentino; then, at Nina Ricci, a knitted vest trimmed in fox…until vests start to show up in my dreams. That’s when I know whether I love or hate it.
Where to go in Paris: I always stay at Le Burgundy on the Rue Duphot. All the top designers are nearby. I love L’Avenue on the Av. Montaigne [for lunch] because everyone always looks fabulous and it inspires me. For dinner, Le Voltaire, because it’s like a party every night.
Shopping for a special occasion: You want to feel like yourself—comfortable, confident, and beautiful. Choose timelessness over trendiness because, as anyone who’s looked back at a picture of themselves in a 1980s bubble dress knows, you don’t want your memories marked by a particular era.
Developing an experienced “eye” for fashion: I’m more concerned with the inside of a garment than the outside. I examine every stitch of the workmanship. Is the fabric the best quality? Then, onto the fit. It may skim the model’s figure perfectly, but how will it fit a more ‘realistic’ figure? My litmus test: If I were at a party and a woman made her entrance wearing this dress, what would I think?
Keeping with the times: When I first started my business, people were always dressing up, whether going to a restaurant or entertaining at home. Now, people are more casual. But, thank goodness, there will always be galas, weddings, and charitable events [to dress up for]!