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Shop Talk: Jennifer Van Wart of Twigs


Nov. 2018

Citizens of Humanity,  AG Adriano Goldschmied and Rag & Bone denim? Check. Me & Ro and Kitsch jewelry? Check. Frank & Eileen shirts and Theory cashmere sweaters? Check and check. Think you need to drive to Chicago to find your favorite designers? Think again. These are just a few of the famous names of fashion available at Twigs of Brookfield, an upscale but approachable boutique that combines a big-city-chic vibe with small-town-friendly customer service.

Having experienced a particular void in Wisconsin’s shopping scene after some years in New York City, Jennifer Van Wart opened Twigs in Madison in 2002 and expanded into The Corners of Brookfield in 2017. Here she talks her path to the fashion business and the styles and services that set Twigs apart.

You were a successful Wall Street trader before you became a boutique owner. Why the major change to the clothing biz — and why leave the Big Apple to move back to Wisconsin?

Moving our family to Wisconsin was a return home for me and a major shift for my husband, who grew up in South America and suburban New York. It was an opportunity to raise our kids near family and in a beautiful part of the country that we’ve always loved. By complete coincidence, our move was planned for Sept. 11, 2001, and while my husband was managing the chaos back east, I was in Wisconsin looking for retail therapy to distract myself. I couldn’t find the type of indie boutiques I liked to shop in or the brands I loved, so I literally decided to open my own.

Describe the vibe at your Brookfield store.

Relaxed and curated. Everything in the store — from on-trend denim and tops to wear-everywhere jewelry that really stands out — has all been carefully chosen. Our store is a relaxing setting with complimentary refreshments, a comfy lounge and, most importantly, stylists who are never pushy, always there to give honest tips and feedback, and to help shoppers find the pieces they’ll want to wear for years.


What advice would you give a customer who wants to raise her fashion game?  Any trends you love or hate this year?

My fashion advice is to choose pieces that make you feel good about yourself. Try not to be a slave to trends. I love the new way we’re mixing fall’s favorite plaids with other accent prints like checks, dots and animal patterns. One tricky fall trend, however, is faux fur. There’s a lot of it out there, but be careful. I feel there’s more bad than good, and it’s easy to ruin a good outfit with the wrong faux fur topper.

What’s the biggest misconception about local fashion?

That it might not be as hip or cool as what you might find in a bigger city, in a major department store or on one of the many online shopping sites. A good local boutique will edit out the extraneous and focus on the best of what your favorite brands offer. Twigs is well known for curated collections and the best styling tips and advice out there. Our customer service is unparalleled, and we love helping our guests find the right look and fit for them.

Visit Twigs: The Corners of Brookfield, 245 High St., Brookfield, (262) 737-5535,


This story ran in the Nov. 2018 issue of: