Fashion Island’s in-house stylist and personal shopper, Sara Aplanalp, shares her tips for spring wardrobes and her favorite places in town.
By Sharon Stello
Sara Aplanalp has her finger on the pulse of the latest local fashion trends. As the official stylist and personal shopper at Fashion Island, she’s among the first to see what’s arriving in stores for the season ahead. For this spring, it’s “soft pastels, rainbow brights, spring florals, fringe and feathers, bold striping and dark denim,” she says.
National trends usually translate here, but with a “coastal chic” spin. “I’d say it’s very luxe but in an everyday wearable way,” Aplanalp says of Newport Beach style.
Although Aplanalp currently lives in Huntington Beach—after growing up in Dana Point and living in New York for a while—she spends plenty of time in Newport, especially at Fashion Island, for obvious reasons.
“What is there not to like?” she says of the center. “Fashion Island has everything from the best shopping to dining. They have a great mix of world-class department stores and exclusive specialty boutiques. And I love that it’s outdoors.”
And, for those who want to refresh their wardrobe, the luxury shopping center offers Aplanalp’s styling expertise for free. “Everyone has access to a stylist/personal shopper at Fashion Island,” she says. “Our services are complimentary. It’s actually quite amazing. We can shop the entire center, finding the perfect pieces [for each person]. There’s no charge—the customer pays directly to each store [for only] what they decide to purchase.”
When looking for clothing and accessories that will help a client look his or her best, Aplanalp encourages them to try something new and see if they like it. “They ultimately have to be comfortable and love what they are putting on,” she says. “Expanding their comfort zone and introducing them to new silhouettes and colors is good. You just don’t want to push so far beyond their limits or it just won’t work.”
Aplanalp, who earned degrees at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and Fashion Institute of Technology before working for various designers and becoming involved with fashion show and event production, says she “naturally fell into a stylist role” and this career seems to be a perfect fit.
“I love working with my clients,” she says. “I get to work in a creative, inspiring field and develop close relationships.”
In between her fashion styling work, Aplanalp enjoys spending time shopping, dining and relaxing in Newport. Here are some of her go-to places.
A Shoreline Stroll
Aplanalp loves visiting Crystal Cove State Park for the natural beauty and its history. “I like to walk along the beach and gaze at all the old beach shacks. My mom used to live in the second house from the end, still in part of the section that hasn’t been retouched. I like to relive in my mind how fabulous it must have been to live down there back in the day.”
For lunch or dinner, Aplanalp can often be found at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana. “The ambience is nice and relaxing, and I love their pizza. They’re all amazing but Diavola is probably my favorite.”
Cruising the Peninsula
For some fresh air, Aplanalp and her boyfriend hop on their bikes and pedal down the peninsula. “We like to ride along the beach and look at the waves, then cut over and make a pit stop at The Crab Cooker for chowder. [It’s] sort of become a tradition for us when it’s nice out.”
When seeking some pampering, she heads to The Spa at Pelican Hill. “I’ve had … great treatments, facials and massage[s], but my boyfriend and I enjoy the couples massage the most. We like having our own private relaxation room after to sip teas or prosecco and chill out.”
Aside from the shops at Fashion Island, Aplanalp says she appreciates the diverse mix of designers at the Michael Nusskern boutique in Harbor View Shopping Center and A’maree’s, which pairs great styles with an amazing view.