I met Jennifer Lowden when she worked at a trade showroom where I shop for fabrics. For a few years we politely complimented each other's outfits and made small talk. Then one night we met for cocktails (or as Jenn might say in her best Texas drawl: "for some sippin' and bitchin'!") and became fast friends. She's got great style, tons of energy and a knack for always making you feel good about yourself.  After graduating from Texas Christian University with a B.A. in Art History & Interior Design, Jenn worked at Dallas' high-end Hargett Showroom and then for two prominent Dallas designers before establishing her own interior design business. Five years ago she moved to Philly for love (husband Jeff) and is now mom to an adorable little girl. Last year she revived her interior design business, JRL Interiors.

Jenn's enthusiasm for life in Dallas is contagious. Here's Dallas as seen by a true Style Maniac. 

DOREEN: We're talking about entertaining and hospitality this month on Style Maniac. Dallas seems to fit right into that conversation.
JENN: Maybe it's the warm sunny weather or just being friendly Texans but Dallas is a very social city. People gather at restaurants in large groups on a regular basis, and that goes for couples with kids as well as singles. Everyone's friendly. Complete strangers chat with each other. Grocery clerks remember your name. When one of my Dallas friends visited me in Philly she couldn't believe how quiet the grocery store was without a bunch of Texans talking!

You've told me a visit to Dallas can be summed up in three words.
Eat, drink, shop! 

Let's eat first.
Ah, so many options. Straight off the plane I'd probably take you directly to Taco Diner where we could sit outside and enjoy fresh, modern Tex-Mex food, then shop the surrounding West Village boutiques.
[For more restaurants see Jenn's Top Seven list below.] 

Your drink of choice?
The Mambo Taxi margarita at Mi Cocina. There's a limit of three per person, with good reason.

And the shopping...
Such great shopping! I tried to narrow it down
[see list below] but there's just so many fabulous places. But two only-in-Dallas boutiques I particularly love are The Glass Slipper and Cowboy Cool, both in West Village. 

Describe Dallas Style.
Women are very put together. Flawless makeup and perfect hair every day.

From an interior designer's perspective Dallas is a wonderful city to work in since people care as much about their homes as their clothes. On the outside, the architecture ranges from Spanish Colonial to stately brick mansions. Inside, it's either classic design, rustic Mexican or the kind of contemporary/antique-accented mix you'd see in New York or L.A.

As far as lifestyle, Dallasites really do live on a bigger scale. Galas are held year-round. The Cattle Baron's Ball is something else—some of the most spectacular outfits you'll ever see and no two women dressed alike. Entertaining at home often means elegant catered parties. But even a laid-back Friday night barbecue will include a live guitarist or a local band. In Dallas, we even vacation on a grand scale—if we want to go to the beach we fly to Mexico or California. If we want to ski we fly to Colorado or Taos. Driving distances are so vast it's faster to fly out of Texas than drive within the state.

You've mentioned that Dallas surprises people. Why?
Dallas is one of the most misperceived cities in America. If you think it's still like the TV show you will be very surprised. It's a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city.


Tell us some secrets only a local knows.
Ahab Bowen, Uptown's long-standing retro clothing boutique, and their new store, Dolly Python, offer amazing clothing plus vintage vinyl, decades old dishes, 50s light fixtures, antique books, racks of studded belts and leather clutches, 60s and 70s costume jewelry. If you're lucky you'll nab vintage 30s Neiman-Marcus fashions for like $20.  Oh and about that TV show. South Fork Ranch is actually located in Parker, Texas not Dallas.

TOP SEVEN things a Style Maniac should do in Dallas?
  1. Eat! Javier's for authentic Old Mexico City fare, Avila's for classic Tex-Mex. And you have to mention the best tacos in Dallas are at Fuel City, a gas station on a highway. A very well kept secret, but I've eaten them and they are great. They have a pool and girls hang out in bikinis all day long.
  2. Shop! Head to Highland Park Village for high-end brands like Chanel and Prada plus New York boutiques Calypso and Scoop; West Village for trendier clothes; the Quadrangle area for art galleries; the Bishop Arts District for cool old doors and windows. On Sundays go to Greenville Avenue for funky shops, brunch at the Blue Goose and all the Harley bikers.
  3. Shop some more. Dallas is saturated with excellent interior designers and has an amazing Design District to serve them. Some of my favorite trade showrooms are Corey Pope, GCN and Allan Knight.
  4. Bike around White Rock Lake, one of the many beautiful lakes and parks surrounding Dallas. Then visit the Dallas Arboretum for a "Cool Thursday" concert series.
  5. Take a day trip to Fort Worth. Tour the Stockyards; eat burgers for lunch at White Elephant; dance to live country music at Billy Bobs; for dinner head downtown to The Reata and enjoy the incredible food of chef-owner Grady Spears.
  6. Visit the Nasher Sculpture Garden at the Dallas Museum of Art. Target hosts Free First Saturdays which makes a visit fun and accessible.
  7. And finally … a Style Maniac cannot leave Dallas without visiting the original Neiman-Marcus store!

For more info on Jenn's interior design business,
JRL Interiors,

 email her at:  

 Dallas Skyline via Dallas Convention Bureau.

"Use the good china for breakfast."