Y urway boutique occupies a modest-sized rectangle on the corners of Chapel and York Streets, with narrow walkways between rows of clothes and accessories. While browsing, you might brush up against a silk top or lace party dress, hiding away, waiting for the right person to snatch them up.
The shopping experience at the downtown women’s store feels a little like being in an oversized closet; only this one is brimming with so many more possibilities than your closet at home, and it comes complete with some very good fashion advice and encouragement.
“Clothing has so much to do with how you feel. I want [people] to feel comfortable, beautiful,” says buyer Marcia Calisman. “It’s about energy.”
She’s not kidding. Calisman, who co-owns the store with husband Ronen Yur (hence the shop’s name) and is dressed rather stylishly at the moment, also works as an energy healer and massage therapist. She sees fashion as a means of confidence-building and “women’s empowerment”—retail therapy in the healthiest sense of the term.
Dressing well doesn’t mean necessarily spending a lot of money, she adds. Even a single accessory can go a long way toward changing a person’s mood, and, as luck would have it, Yurway’s got plenty of those: delicate necklaces, felt hats, gaudy belts, daring earrings and chunky, bold rings adorning racks and display cases.
Calisman notes that the accessories are fair trade, and the store also carries a number of vegan pieces, like belts and bags made from leather alternatives. The pieces also echo the international feel of the store and the people who work there: Calisman is Brazilian, Yur is from Israel. Both countries, as well as Columbia, Canada, Spain, Argentina and the United States (specifically California) are represented in Yurway’s inventory.
There’s an attendant vibrancy here, evident immediately in the range of color popping from all angles; in the bright paintings on the walls; and, most importantly, in the clothes.
Calisman wants it that way. It all goes back to the idea of clothes creating good energy. “People want to have fun,” she says of her choice to steer clear of the monochrome. “People like color.”
But let’s say a customer is timid about brightening her wardrobe, or nervous about all things fashion-related? That’s where the staff at Yurway comes in. Although Calisman certainly spends some time in the store, you’re most likely to see Claudia Groisman behind the counter.
Groisman, who had stopped in to shop one day, was hired shortly after Yurway opened, about four years ago. Groisman—who is Argentinean, adding to the international vibe—spent 15 years working at Saks Fifth Avenue. She knows her stuff and offers it freely, most often to the mix of students and professionals that comprise Yurways’ regulars.
Her job often involves helping a customer pick out just the right outfit for a special event or party; Yurway is known especially for its dresses. Of course, they also carry a number of tops and other pieces, including skirts, jackets, camisoles and other basics. Pricing speaks to the wide range of customers they serve; you can purchase a dress for under $100, but you can also spend a fair deal more.
Whatever the price, Groisman agrees with the philosophy that clothes can make the woman—and vice versa. “There are certain things on the hanger that are nothing, but when you put it on it tells a story,” she says.
Beyond the fashion, the boutique is highly involved in community life, participating in many New Haven events and fundraisers, as well as private functions. Calisman says she’s organized a few after-hours shopping events in the store for groups of friends looking for a fun night out, and she’s eager to do more of that.
Especially during these cold and often dreary winter months, when you need a little color in your life. “Women’s clothing is artistic, it’s a way of being creative,” Calisman says. “It’s a way to bring some joy of spirit.”
1130 Chapel Street, New Haven
Mon-Wed 10am-6pm, Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10am-6:30pm, Sun 12-5pm
Written and photographed by Cara McDonough.