Monday, June 27, 2022

Getting Looks: Miss Behavin’ Stays in Style

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Oxford shop strives to keep ahead of the curve.

Oxford is a city chock full of great destinations, from the historic to the cultural to the one-of-a-kind retail encounters that it has to offer.

Since it opened on the Square more than a dozen years ago, Miss Behavin’ has taken its place among them, becoming a hopping experience for visitors and newcomers alike for its fun, ever-young and always in fashion women’s apparel and accessories.

A favorite of the Ole Miss sorority set and collegiate football fans since 2002, the very name of the Miss Behavin’ store, founded by Ripley native Ivy Saxton, is a playful takeoff on the “Ole Miss” term used to refer to the university itself –– one meant to convey both the manners and the fashion mischief that are still part of Greek life in Oxford.

With several thousand unique fashion items and accessories in stock throughout the year, from evening attire to day dresses to designer tops, coats, sweaters, slacks and more, Miss Behavin’ takes its reputation for being ahead of the fashion curve quite seriously.

“The owner, Ivy Saxton and myself, we go to California markets in L.A.,” says Miss Behavin’ Store Manager McKenzie Baldorossi. “We’ll go every two or three months, depending on the season, and then, in between, we’ll order from the same vendors online, or call to reorder. The big brands that we always carry are House of Harlow, Nicole Richie’s line’, Wildfox and LSpace. We also have Joe’s Jeans. We carry their shorts, pants and corduroys. We always have (those) in stock, but season to season, our other brands change completely. We might love Audrey this season, but next season, they’re too Californian for Mississippi. You have to go and look. That’s why we’re out there all the time.”

IMG_1423Another unique facet of the Miss Behavin’ fashion brand is the input of the sales representatives who work at the store, Baldorossi says.

“What is really different about Miss Behavin’ is that we have all of our employees create a ‘look book’ every six weeks. Everyone that we hire has a completely different look than the other girls. One girl may be super hippie, another girl crazy and punkish in her style. So we have a variety of girls and looks, and when we get their look books, Ivy and I will sit down for about two weeks and completely tear things out to put into one master look book. So when we are in California, we go and we look, and then every night we’ll come home to a hotel and we’ll go through the book, cross off what we found, and figure out how we can market to different girls, because there are so many different styles in Oxford.”

Although sorority girls still make up a large part of the store’s customer base, Saxton and Baldorossi go the distance to ensure that young professional women, Rebel football fans, and even the women who come to Oxford from Starkville, Baton Rouge, Tuscaloosa and Fayetteville for SEC games can find something to their liking in just the right color.

“We do our best when we’re out there in L.A. to say, ‘Okay, moms in Oxford would love this top, or this print would do nicely for the other moms who come in for other games,’” Baldorossi says. “We’ll have the colors from the other schools who come for game weekends. We get the burnt orange and the maroon. We look for Grove, we need red, we need blue, we need white, and then we’ll need leather jackets for all of them in every color.”

IMG_1442Getting it right is often a balancing act, Baldorossi says, given the seasonal and fickle nature of the fashion industry.

“It is very tailored to the season, and what is going on at the university. We have this week’s hot item, we have it in three different colors, but we also have the classic look of something that is timeless. We have the latest thing that is going to be out of style in two weeks, and we have the things that were in style two weeks ago, in case someone is just getting in to it. We go for everything.”

While Miss Behavin’ caters to women in the mid-price range of fashion, customers can always find high-quality merchandise at a bargain if they are willing to come in and look, she adds.

“We always have the one rack of sale items that we mark down by 50 percent. And honestly, it is apparel from this season that we got in three weeks ago that just didn’t do as well as we thought. Bloomingdales does the same thing. They send it to Marshall’s. We just put it outside.”

When it comes to the amount of retail space that the store devotes exclusively to fashion, Baldorossi says Miss Behavin’ is in good company.

“We’re the second largest store on the Square. Neilson’s is the biggest per square foot, and then it is us.”

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