What’s in store: FeBe on Metairie Road_lowres

Bessie Papazis (left) and regular customer Joyelle Adolph shop at FeBe.

"What shoes should I wear with this dress?" It's a common question at boutiques, and one the staff at FeBe (474 Metairie Road, Metairie, 504-835-5250; www.febeclothing.com) loves to answer. They'll make footwear suggestions based on what they know is in customers' wardrobes. If none of those shoes fit the bill, they'll send pictures of soon-to-arrive merchandise.

  Store manager Ron Jones says the key to creating repeat customers is listening to their hobbies, interests and social habits. "Just asking where they like to go out to dinner tells me if they need a wardrobe of jeans and tops or cocktail dresses," Jones says.

  In 2003, sisters Effie Boihem (the "Fe") and Bessie Papazis (the "Be") opened the small clothing store selling ready-to-wear designer garments, handbags, shoes and jewelry. By late 2005, it had quadrupled in size.

  FeBe stocks 20 brands of denim. Its selection of formal gowns swells as the holidays and Carnival near. Brushed wool and denim jackets complement chunky heeled Stuart Weitzman and Pedro Garcia suede clogs and booties, which are exclusive to FeBe. There are cocktail dresses to fit any style, from flowing, slinky silk and intricate lace pieces to structured cotton poplin and satin frocks. Handbags come in classic silhouettes, with brightly colored fox fur pompoms as add-ons for a pop of texture. Hardware-inspired earrings, necklaces and pendants by local designer Michele McKeon add a finishing touch.

  Boihem, Papazis and Jones design and build wardrobes for customers, and in-store tailoring is available. The store carries basics like everyday cotton T-shirts and moto jackets.

  "We always try to have clas- sic basics and then fun things to ... add on to that," Jones says. "Then it [becomes] something both timeless and current. It all works together."