Vanessa Lopez of Heart Clothing Boutique (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

Vanessa Lopez of Heart Clothing Boutique (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

Vanessa Lopez

Heart Clothing Boutique
1903 Capitol Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 441-1359

When Vanessa Lopez opened Heart Clothing Boutique three years ago, she brought plenty of experience, education and personal style to the business. The Sacramento native studied at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco and worked for over six years in iconic local retailers and boutiques. Lopez says that college is a time for personal discovery, and she loves to help customers explore and define their own styles. Her best life advice to college students is to nurture relationships with mentors, since her own offered the knowledge and support she needed to be a success.

Be budget conscious.

Between the cost of school and the cost of living, college students must be mindful of how their money is spent. But that does not have to mean wearing outdated and outgrown clothes that are left in the closet after high school. Lopez suggests finding attire that is multifunctional, such as a maxi skirt that can double as a dress. Do not assume that major retailers will have the best deals either; boutiques and other small businesses can have comparable prices on clothing that is more unique and of better quality.

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Heart Boutique skirt used two ways (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

Find basic pieces to build on.

With fashion as with education, it is important to start with the basics. Lopez recommends beginning with a few pieces like dresses or tops in solid colors rather than patterns. “A print is easily recognizable, but you can wear a solid with different accessories each time,” she says. Belts, jewelry, hats, sweaters and shoes can give that basic piece a completely new look.

Heart Boutique shoe styles (Credit, Valerie Heimerich)

Think on your feet.

Students spend a lot of time walking around campus, and staying energized requires a focus on footwear. “Everybody should have a good pair of flats to get around in,” Lopez says, “especially busy college students.” Flats with toes that are pointed are more multifunctional than shoes with rounded toes, which look strictly casual. For non-flats, avoid narrow-heeled shoes that are a drain on your energy and comfort. “You’ll get more mileage out of a wedge heel,” says Lopez, noting that there are many fashionable wedge styles available now.

Go back to the pack.

While school kids may be happy hauling around nylon backpacks, many college students want a more adult or polished look. According to Lopez, “backpacks are making a big comeback” with collegians, due to embellishments, leathers and new, hip colors. “They’ve made them look cool,” she says, adding that the new style of packs can do double-duty as chic purses as well.

Make a statement with accessories.

Accessories are a great way to stretch wardrobe basics or to try a new look without breaking the bank. For instance, Lopez suggests using pieces like large, jeweled “statement necklaces” to inexpensively transform a t-shirt and casual skirt or jeans into a fun, dressier outfit. And busy students do not have time to deal with bad hair days, so headscarves, headbands and fedoras can be “a quick and easy way to get out the door.” Lopez laughs, adding, “Hats have saved my life plenty of times.”

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at