If you’re wearing a fantastic outfit I will tell you so, even if I’ve never met you before in my life. If your clothes are really spectacular, I’ll ask where you bought them. I’ll jot down your answer in a battered Moleskine notebook and check it out.
That’s how I found myself trying on dresses and talking about art in a former opera singer’s basement on a random Thursday in Moorhead, Minnesota.
Barb Schramm is a pretty interesting lady. She’s worked as a choral director, a voice teacher and an opera singer. After years of roaming the globe as a professional performer, she brought her charming German husband back to her hometown.
She now runs The 3 Bees (Barb’s Basement Boutique) from the lower level of the house her father built in Moorhead. And she’s made it her mission to bring her favorite style, “lagenlook” (German for “layered look”), back to the states.
This is a super comfortable, flattering style of dressing that features staples like wide leg pants, leggings, dresses and stretchy tops and tunics for women of all sizes, petite through plus size. You can style these pieces to feel boho and romantic (think harem pants and flowing maxi dresses) or layer them together for a cozy, covered-up look. Add a sweater or a wrap and tights and boots and the same pieces transition seamlessly into winter.
A steady stream of customers ring the bell and pad down the stairs to explore four rooms of clothing and accessories. There’s a sign in the front yard to assure you that you’re in the right place. I’m glad I stopped and asked people about their outfits, because there was absolutely 0% chance I would have found this place on my own.
“You look like a theater person!” she exclaims after admiring my hat and giving me a quick tour. Indeed I was. (How do we always seem to recognize each other?!) It took about 30 seconds for us to realize we both had connections to MSUM’s summer stock theater company, The Straw Hat Players.
It took maybe another 30 seconds for Barb to have me pegged. She glanced at me, correctly ascertained my size and steered me toward a very cool black, zippered and hooded dress that somehow summed up my Parisian street style/tomboy/vaguely punk aesthetic perfectly. I could wear it with leggings, with shirt underneath, as a long vest or as a sleeveless mini dress. The possibilities made my mind reel. I grabbed a similar dress in taupe. I was hooked.
As an added bonus, I’ll be one of only a few people wearing this dress — in this country, anyway. “Everything comes from Europe because I lived 20 years in Germany,” Barb explained. “I do all my buying online in German.”
She buys limited quantities and since she has basically no overhead, she keeps her prices low. I saw a dress similar to the one I bought in a Minnesota boutique a few weeks ago for over $100 more. That, along with a truly unique selection, is more than enough to keep me coming back.
How about you?
What’s your favorite look? Where do you shop when you want truly unique pieces? Have you visited The 3 Bees yet? What do you hope to find there if you do? What’s your favorite hidden spot in Fargo-Moorhead? Tell me in the comments!
The 3 Bees
3211 Rivershore Drive
218-233-1240 or 218-443-0697
Thursday: Noon to 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: Noon to 6 p.m.
And by appointment
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