Island Stylin’

Best-Dressed at the Beach and Beyond

By SANDRA WEYANT | Jun 07, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

When you live down the shore, you’re constantly looking for clothing that feels as light and comfortable as an ocean breeze. This summer, it’s all about finding that perfect dress to allow you to be confident and carefree no matter where you go, and we have a great place in mind.

Previously owned by the Mesanko family for 10 years, Tula, a chic boutique located in the heart of Beach Haven, now has a new owner. Former assistant manager Chrystie Shimko has worked at Tula for the past five years, and when the opportunity arose for her to take over the store this year, there was no hesitation.

“We made a lot of changes as far as pricing; we definitely lowered it. We made some physical improvements outside, and we brought in a lot of new lines, styles and gifts that we haven’t had in previous years. It’s very exciting to see the store evolving with the times,” Shimko said.

In her free time during the winter months, Shimko enjoys frequenting New York fashion shows to look for inspiration for the upcoming seasons. Her customers tend to vary in age; young girls and women from ages 13 to 70 love shopping at Tula.

“I try to buy everything that will fit all different personalities and sizes, with lots of colors and fun designs, but nothing that is too trendy where it doesn’t fit the beach style and the more-relaxed vibe we have down here,” Shimko said.

The store’s typical size range is XS to XL, but sizing differs based on particular companies. Shimko takes as much as possible from each vendor to allow for a wide assortment of styles and fits to cater to everyone.

With Shimko’s expert fashion advice and Tula’s timeless trends, you’ll be sure to find a dress (and much more) for every occasion.

Work It Out: The overall style for summer ’17 is cool and casual, and this includes a rise in the demand for athletic wear. The athleisure trend debuted in 2016, but has carried over to this year and “will be bigger and better in 2017,” according to Shimko.

“It’s not just about yoga pants and a zip-up. They’re doing dresses and tops with an active feel in a chic-er way. I’ve seen a lot of success with it so far,” Shimko said.

Make a run for it, and come see what it’s all about.

You Have a Flower Delivery: New dresses with gorgeous prints are blooming everywhere.

“Floral is really big this year. They’re (vendors) doing it differently, though. Smaller prints with more neutrals. If the dress is a bold color, the pattern will be very subtle and neutral. A lot of people don’t like the design to be too over-the-top,” Shimko explained.

With these styles, you’ll look as fresh as a newly picked bouquet.

Show Your Stripes. Year after year, stripes are always in style. You’ll be seeing everything from classic pinstripes to colorblocking, or dresses with a combination of stripes in different directions. Whether they are vertical, horizontal or diagonal, stripes work wonders for all figures.

Give Them the Cold Shoulder. It’s not a rude gesture when you look this good. The cold shoulder has made a serious comeback and is often featured in dresses with high necklines. Convenient cut-outs offer an elegant option to show off some skin for the summer.

“It’s really a classy style that looks good on everybody,” Shimko said. “Off-the-shoulder dresses are also trending.”

Opt for Organic. When it comes to summertime fabrics, “the softer, the better,” Shimko said. “Especially for down here at the shore.”

Right now, a lot of clothing is made with organic cotton because it’s lightweight and comfortable and people seem to love it.

“My lines that are organic cotton-based, they went with very comfortable T-shirt dresses that you can dress up or dress down, wear day or night to the beach and then out to dinner. My lines that are normally dressier, they also went more casual this year. It’s all about comfort and versatility,” Shimko said.

Basically, basic is in!

Chambray All Day. Chambray, an airy fabric that mimics the look of denim, is showing up this season in dresses, tops and bottoms. Stay cool for the summer in a knee-length dress. Denim is a bit heavier due to how it is woven, but Shimko is really excited about her new denim apparel.

Either way, you can’t go wrong with these rugged-meets-chic materials.

Minis and Midis. In short, long dresses may be a thing of the past, while shorter hemlines are all the rage this year, so get ready to flaunt those legs.

“It’s about the short to mid-length looks, and almost everything I have in the store is either short or mid-length. It’s definitely more of a cleaner cut. We’re not really seeing high-low hemlines anymore, either,” Shimko said.

A Little Lace Goes a Long Way. There is nothing more feminine and beautiful than lace details on a dress. Lace is lovely, but in moderation. No one wants to look like a walking doily.

Shimko explained that lace is incorporated into a lot of her styles, but in a simplified way.

“It may be like a basic cotton T-shirt dress, but it’ll have a slight ruffle or lace trim. So you’ll see basic styles but with a small detail to make it dressier,” she said.

Tula is more than a high-fashion boutique. Shimko and her associates pride themselves on creating a welcoming and warm environment for shoppers, and they are always willing to help out anyone at any time. Shimko feels the laid-back and friendly atmosphere is what helped the store to become unique, along with the wide assortment of merchandise.

“If clothes are not something you’re interested in here, we definitely have so many other things here you would like, as far as shoes and jewelry and bags. This year, we’re really getting into gifts, so we have a lot of cool, new items, like notebooks, journals, mugs and cups with cute sayings,” Shimko said. “I’d just love this to be a one-stop shop for everybody. That’s my goal.”

Shop online at or pay a visit to the store on Long Beach Island for all of your summer essentials.


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