Inspired Fashion
Suzanne Smith has used her artistic sensibilities to create Muse, a Doylestown boutique filled with distinctive women’s apparel sure to inspire
by Sharen Nocella

Tucked away on Taylor Street, one block off Doylestown’s Main Street, is one of the best-kept secrets in women’s fashion—Muse. This fittingly named women’s fashion boutique is, in a word, inspiring.

Anything but a typical fashion boutique, Muse offers a distinctive mix of American and European designer collections. Muse’s philosophy is “less is more,” according to Suzanne Smith, owner of Muse.

“I think you can really achieve a finished look without being trendy,” she says. “Muse is not trend; it is more classic style. The woman who shops here doesn’t want to dress like her daughter.”

Smith got her start in the industry working for a fashion designer who owned a boutique in Philadelphia. Soon after, Smith bought the shop that for years was a mainstay in Philadelphia fashion, Suzanne Roberts Clothing. She opened Muse after moving to Doylestown three years ago. In doing so, she brought not only her chic style to the area but also her 30 years of fashion and retail experience. 

Women who shop at Muse are typically independent and creative. They seek quality in their garments and want sophisticated, classic fashions that have an edge but stand above the trends that come and go. Muse’s apparel is best described as “lifestyle dressing,” which ranges from weekend casual—blue jeans, T-shirts, etc.—to professional chic to “after 5.” The shop also carries an array of fashion accessories, handbags and shoes.

In essence, Muse offers local shoppers the opportunity to purchase the finest designer brands without having to travel into the city or to high-end retail destinations such as the King of Prussia Mall. When a customer enters Muse, she will be greeted by the shop’s understated ambiance, which blends simplicity with elegance in both its décor and its merchandise. Smith does all her buying in New York, where she selects the shop’s European lines from Italian, French, Brazilian and Spanish designers. She also buys domestically, including shoes and apparel from local favorite Eileen Fisher.

What most sets Muse apart from others is the woman who brought it to life. Smith has a degree in fine arts, and she uses clothing as a creative outlet. In fact, the name of her boutique—Muse—is a nod to her artistic background.

“Muses were the inspiration behind the art,” she says. “To me, muse means inspiration. It made sense. Fashion is my passion, it is what inspires me. I think the name speaks to women, too.  Women are a very courageous and powerful group. I admire them very much, and they too inspire me. … [This business] is about color, texture and style, so business and clothing became, for me, a way to be creative. I love what I do. I am very passionate about it.”

It’s no surprise that Smith has the unique talent of being able to intuit what her clients want but without a hard sell. Whether a client needs a designer T-shirt, a new pair of shoes or an outfit for a gala event, Smith’s goal is simple: to have customers be satisfied, if not overjoyed, with their purchases. To her, it is not about selling; rather, it’s about forging relationships with her customers. As proof of her ability to build such bonds, Muse’s customer base is dominated by a cast of regulars.

At Muse, if a client cannot find what she is looking for, Smith can enlist the services of a select number of designers who will commission work for her. One of them is Lorain Croft, a New York designer who creates timeless, luxurious fashions to fit and flatter a variety of body shapes. With each commissioned work, Croft sends Smith a set of samples and fabric swatches, and Smith then makes recommendations to her client about how the fabric will translate into a finished garment. 

Smith’s creativity and artistic eye come in handy not only when she styles her clients but also when she selects the pieces of clothing to stock the boutique. This talent has allowed her to assemble a lineup of unique merchandise to suit multiple tastes, rather than rack after rack of similarly themed pieces. 

“A lot of people don’t have that vision,” she says. “I think that is one of my gifts. I just look at a texture and color swatch and I can envision what that garment is going to look like when it is made. I buy that way all the time. … You won’t see yourself coming and going when you dress in clothing from Muse. My customers are the star. They wear the clothing; the clothing doesn’t wear them.”  

One Taylor Ave.
Doylestown, PA 18901
215-337-2270 |

Some of the most compelling international and domestic brands offered by Muse include:
* Crea Concept: This Parisian company offers collections that blend style and individuality. The brand’s timeless fashions are inspired by the designer’s interest in architecture, modern art and urban culture.

* Eileen Fisher: This company’s mission embraces simplicity, sustainability and thoughtfully designed apparel brought to life with great lines—simple, sensual, functional. The company’s shoe lines are a blend of form and function, meaning customers benefit from the combination of high style and everyday comfort.

* Gräf and Lantz: Los Angeles-based designers Holger Gräf and Daniel Lantz re-imagine a palette of elegant, basics materials into modern and intelligent handbags. Materials include leather and 100 percent merino wool felt, which is prized for its ultra-fine fibers and soft feel.

* Guido Lombardi: Founded in 1986 as an Italian knitwear company, Guido Lombardi offers premier knitwear for the discerning customer.

* Malìparmi:
Led by the mother-and-daughter team of Marol and Annalisa Paresi, Malìparmi offers a line of shoes, handbags and fashion accessories that combine to provide a unique look for the contemporary, independent, traveling woman.

* WHYci:
This designer collection includes tops and sweaters of superior quality and cashmere/merino blends. Its fashions have been made in Italy for three generations.

Photograph by Allure West Studios