Shopping in the Byward Market: Frou Frou


Melodie Cardin is the Special Events and Communications Coordinator for the ByWard Market Business Improvement Area…we look forward to more posts from her!

I might as well start this off with a little confession: I’m not really a “clothes girl.”

I mean, yeah, I like a great handbag as much as the next girl, but I’m not really up on the latest trends and I don’t generally get a huge amount of pleasure out of shopping. Usually, I do it because I have to; because my favorite pair of jeans is too worn to fit even the loosest definition of casual Friday, or because my big toe  has officially gone through every sock I own. Once in awhile I shop for fun, but usually, malls stress me out, particularly at this time of year as the Christmas rush is about to begin.

I do get enjoyment though, out of a cute boutique with unique finds and great customer service, and that’s one of the reasons I love traveling – because in my experience, those kinds of places are really easy to find in places like New York, Paris and Montreal.

However, just as we often don’t bother to see the tourist attractions in our town, many of us don’t delve deep enough to find the shopping gems that Ottawa can and does provide. One of these little gems is Frou Frou, a shop on William Street in the ByWard Market that proves that the words “funky” and “elegant” can actually be used in the same sentence.

On my last visit, Assistant Manager Lisa Bowese and store employee Chelsea Regan were happy to pitch in as fashion models to show you a few of their best outfits.

“I love working here,” gushed Regan. “Aside from the rest of the staff being so wonderful, when people leave this store they feel better about themselves. The best thing is when the smile on somebody’s face isn’t just because they got a new dress, it’s when the dress they got makes them feel like a million bucks, and they had a great time shopping for it.”

Regan modeled a gorgeous sequined shirt-dress by Papillon. Bowese tried on a lovely burgundy party dress by Kiki, and offered to be a foot model so I could get a picture of these great Cubana suede knee-high boots, made in Portugal. She also showed me a line of eco-friendly, sustainable boots by Groundhog. Bowese has been at Frou Frou for two years, and four years with the company, which also owns the two Sassy Bead Co. locations (in the ByWard Market and the Glebe), Pom Pom and Pom Pom Too and Bank Street Framing. All of these shops bring something special to Ottawa, but I’m especially partial to Frou Frou as the fashions are just a little edgier.

“We tend to have funky clothing that can be worn by a large variety of people,” says Bowese, describing Frou Frou. “We have pieces that an older woman could wear and have that pop in her wardrobe, without looking like she’s trying to look too young.” For the younger set, she says, Frou Frou always has variety. “Here, if you buy a dress, you don’t have to worry about walking into the  party and seeing somebody in the exact same dress.”

The staff, for me, is a huge part of the draw of this store. At Frou Frou, someone will be there to assist you but there is never a feeling of pressure to buy. These ladies are genuine and truly committed to helping you walk out with something suited to both your body type and your personality. It’s enough to make a “clothes girl” out of anyone.

Note: Frou Frou will be holding a Midnight Madness event on December 3. They’ll be open until midnight and there will be great sales, so it will be a great time to check it out.

Where do you shop in Ottawa?