Life of Style

S equins and suede, velour with fur, a jeans-and-khaki jumpsuit with a little bit of bling. That’s what you’ll find at More Amour Boutique, a new “retro chic and edgy” shop on Whalley Avenue owned by Kim Sewell-Poole.

“I love love love helping women explore different fashion horizons,” says Sewell-Poole, who spent a decade working as a women’s associate at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus in Baltimore and Rockville, Maryland. Her interest in fashion began, though, in her parents’ East Baltimore clothing shop. It specialized in comfortable clothing—sweatsuits, T-shirts—but even at the age of six, spending afterschool hours there, Sewell-Poole saw herself as a fashion consultant. “I would be like, ‘You can put that sweatsuit on with some boots,’ and they’re like, ‘OK, thank you little girl,’” she says with a laugh. “Yeah, it was a good time.”

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In some ways, not much has changed. Step into More Amour, and Sewell-Poole promises she’ll help you find what you want, maybe with a nudge outside your comfort zone. “I think people are coming in ’cause they want to test their fashion sense,” she says. “I think they want to step it up.”

In the sleek little shop, two purple chairs flank two mannequins in the window. The space may be small, but the racks are full of unique discoveries: a shimmery gray thong bodysuit with sheer puffed sleeves; a body-hugging knit dress with vegan leather sleeves; a soft, brown tweed kimono. More Amour carries some accessories, too: handbags, hoop earrings, sunglasses, even sequined masks. Sewell-Poole also proudly shows off several pieces by the designer Alberto Makali, including a black blazer with white varsity jacket sleeves and a little bit of sparkle in its stripes and a pair of black polyester bell bottoms with oversized ruffles climbing the legs. “He has some great, unique pieces… I’ve always liked his stuff,” she says. “It’s always different, and he puts a little bit of traditional in there with the new, retro kick.”

Sewell-Poole has dreamed of owning her own store since her days of working in retail. The tipping point came on a visit from Baltimore to see her husband’s family in New Haven. She went “looking for that statement piece” to wear to a Broadway show. While noting that there are several nice clothing boutiques in New Haven and Hamden, she says she came up empty.

Her husband already co-owned a business and some property in the Elm City, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to decide she should open her own shop here. “It was just the spur of the moment,” she recalls. “I needed something to wear, can’t find anything, let me open a store.” She laughs. “Pretty much how it went down.” When she found the charming brick storefront on Whalley, part of The Shops at Yale, she knew the time was right.

Except it wasn’t exactly right. More Amour opened in March and almost immediately closed for the pandemic. Since its June reopening, business has been picking up, Sewell-Poole says. Landlord Yale has “been so supportive along the way, 100 percent,” she says, adding that she wishes students would venture just a little farther out to find her. Online shopping will be available soon as well—but, she adds, “There’s nothing like actually going in and feeling the fabric and trying it on yourself.” She encourages customers to send her photos of themselves dressed up in her clothing, which she posts on the shop’s Instagram.

Everything on the rack at More Amour is new, and Sewell-Poole intends to keep it “limited and exclusive.” “New Haven’s kind of small,” she says. “I don’t want everyone having the same thing on.” Despite the “exclusive” label, though, prices at More Amour are within reach. Designer pieces may run over $200, but most of the inventory is off-the-rack, and you can put together outfits for $30 and up, she says.

Just as important, you can count on Sewell-Poole to keep abreast of fashion trends. Her uncle once worked as a designer for Beyoncé’s brand House of Deréon, and today her cousins are in the business. One has an online boutique; another sells fedoras to a celebrity clientele. “We all keep each other in tune with what’s hot, what’s trending,” she says.

Bell bottoms, anyone?

More Amour Boutique
43 Whalley Ave, New Haven (map)
Mon-Sat 11am-7pm
(203) 859-5266
Instagram

Written and photographed by Kathy Leonard Czepiel.

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About Kathy Leonard Czepiel

View all posts by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
Kathy Leonard Czepiel is Daily Nutmeg's associate editor. She's also a fiction writer, writing teacher and book club troubleshooter. Her perfect New Haven day would involve lots of sunshine, a West Rock hike, a concert on the green and a coffee milkshake.

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