Wholly Tara!: wholly press!

wholly press!


Tara Leonard's Five Fashion Tips

Tara Leonard studied art, worked for years at a Newbury Street milliner and is a regular in the stands at New York fashion shows. She also owns what might be the friendliest little boutique in the state. “I could have ended up anywhere with a shop, but I ended up in Ashland,” the fifth-generation Ashlander says. From her Main Street store, Wholly Tara, Leonard dishes out not just fashionable clothes, but a hefty dose of true retail therapy. The store offers something for every budget and every age in sizes ranging from XS to 3XL, but their best feature may be Leonard herself. She pays personal attention to each of her customers, offering them advice, encouragement and an honest opinion. “It’s not about the shopping,” she says. “It’s about the experience.”
At Wholly Tara, Leonard helps New Hampshire women from all walks of life find the fun in getting dressed. “You tell your story with what you wear,” says Leonard. “What story do you want to tell?” Revamping your look isn’t about going on a shopping spree — here are Leonard’s suggestions for starting your wardrobe upgrade.

 If you feel good in what you’re wearing, it shows. Leonard is a firm believer that you can look good at any size and any age. It’s just a matter of attitude. Pick things that you feel great in, and you’ll look great.

  1. Eliminate “Am I too old for this?” from your vocabulary. A tunic and — gasp — skinny jeans can be a perfectly age-appropriate outfit for a retiree, Leonard says. Let how you look and feel in an outfit dictate whether you wear it, not the year you were born.
  2. Dress for what you are today, not what you want to be in the future and not what you were in the past. If you want to change your weight, you won’t be motivated to do it if all of your clothes are too baggy or too tight. Treat yourself to something that fits you today, even if you hope you’ll be having it taken in at the tailor in six months.
  3. Less is more. Especially if you have a busy schedule, shopping until your closet is bursting with clothes is both impossible and unwise. Choose key pieces that will last and that will go with everything, Leonard says, and styling around them will be a breeze.
  4. To borrow the phrase from L’Oreal, you’re worth it. Have you dropped thousands on spoiling your grandkids this year but not bought new shoes since the Bush administration? Take Leonard’s word for it: You really are worth investing in.
—By Sarah Cahalan

Ashland boutique brings fresh fashion to NH

By Lindsay Scalera, Features Editor
On September 14, 2007

Trying to find stylish clothes in the northern region of New Hampshire is like trying to lick your own elbow. While it's always worth a try, the chances of succeeding are slim to none.
Tara Leonard hopes that all that will change with the debut of her new boutique Wholly Tara! in Ashland. Located next to The Common Man restaurant, the boutique offers a variety of pieces from clothes to jewelry to artwork.
Leonard has long had an interest in clothes, starting at an early age. "I love finding outfits and putting them together. It's kind of what I've always done, even when I was a little girl. I would go over to friends' houses and go through their closets and just rework their whole wardrobe, like a stylist," she said.
"I've always wanted to have my own boutique," said Leonard, who is a graphic design graduate of Plymouth State College in 1994. "When I was a student at Plymouth I did a boutique for my final project. I did everything, from the marketing to the packaging, everything."
After completing her education, Leonard followed her aspirations to Boston, where she worked at a boutique on Newbury Street for five years.
"I did some freelance fashion photography," she said. "I did a lot of art shows and sold artwork wholesale for different galleries and stuff all over. I just decided that it's really hard to make a living just doing your art."
She then worked next door at The Common Man for another five years, ironically, for the same people that own the building her boutique is part of. "I went to them and said 'this is my idea' and I really pursued it for almost a year to get into this location," she said.
"One might find it strange to open a high-end boutique in downtown Ashland, nestled in the scenic White Mountain area, but Leonard felt that it Wholly Tara! belongs there too," she said.
Many of the pieces come from designers in New York or Los Angeles. The rest is made by local artists or by Leonard herself. "I went to N.Y. to do all the buying and I'm going to L.A. next. It's stuff that you can't even find in the boutiques in Boston.
She features jewelry ranging from $5-$150, some of which she makes by recycling things like vintage clip on earrings, which she later turns into chunky rings. "I'm trying to really bring a fresh look to this area, because it desperately needs it," she said.
While some of the clothes are on the pricey side, they are some of the few around that can claim to be one of a kind. "I usually only get 3-6 of each piece, so you're not going to wear the same thing that everybody's got. When it's gone, it's gone. We don't get it again. It's like if you want something one of a kind and different, you come here," she said.
One of the pieces she is most excited about are organic jeans. They're from L.A., and the closest one could find them is on Newbury Street in Boston. "They sell them in N.Y. and L.A., and now Ashland, the mecca of fashion!" said Leonard jokingly.
The jeans are part of the sustainable cotton project, which uses all organic cotton and doesn't include any dyes or chemicals that are bad for the environment or the workers who make them. "They're good for the environment and they feel awesome," said Leonard. "And they make your butt look really good!" She claims them to be better than such designer jeans like Seven, True Religion and Joe's.
Although Wholly Tara! has only been open since July, Leonard is already looking into what the future holds for her dream boutique. One of her goals to do an online boutique featuring her creations.
On Sunday, September 16, Wholly Tara will be putting on a fashion show in conjunction with other nearby businesses. The Common Man is providing food, while a local spa is going to be offering mini spa treatments.
"I want everyone to come in and pick out outfits they would actually wear, not like a fashion show where I tell you what to wear. I want people to wear something that they would be comfortable in and they would actually wear."
So what is going to be in this season? According to Leonard, purple is going to be a big color this fall. "There's a lot of stuff with ruching, like basics, but they add a little bit of detail," she said. She also feels that leggings will still be "in." She spotted them in California a few years ago and was very excited about their return into the closets of the new millennium.
"I got all excited because they are so comfortable. I think anything that is comfortable is in, as long as it's comfortable and looks good at the same time."
While Leonard is trying to bring a little more high fashion to the area, she understands that clothing still has to be functional or else it isn't worth buying. "When I look at Vogue, I just get like, ugh," she said with disgust. "It's boring, and I kind of laugh at how ridiculous it is because it doesn't work anywhere. I mean, it's still New Hampshire. I think you can be casual and funky and fun at the same time."