Priorities (5523 Magazine St., 504-899-2212; www.prioritiesnola.com) owner Marloe Goodman D'Agostino says the slogan that best represents her business is "Activewear that goes anywhere." Having worked at the store for 20 years and owned it for 16, she's witnessed the evolution of athletic clothing from leotards and neon legwarmers to multifunctional basics. "Workout wear goes a lot further than it used to," D'Agostino says. "I pride myself on good fabrics that don't shrink and don't fade."
For D'Agostino, the hi-tech, perspiration-wicking fabrics are just as important as the feeling of confidence the stylish cuts inspire in the wearer. From golf shorts and flirty tennis skirts to basic layering tanks and sports bras, she chooses clothes that integrate into a woman's existing wardrobe and her hectic lifestyle. This way, customers can go straight from the yoga mat to the grocery store without having to bring another set of clothes.
"If you're not sweaty from a ... run, you can go and run your errands," D'Agostino says.
Dressing up the pieces is easy. Slim black pants can go from an aerobics class to a dinner date with the addition of high heels or a satin blouse. T-shirts and tanks moonlight as blouses with accessories or a cardigan.
Playing the part of stylist, D'Agostino won't let her customers walk out the door without looking and feeling their best. To convince a regular customer that she'd look much better in leggings than the baggy sweats she walked in with, D'Agostino borrowed a pair of black boots from a neighboring boutique to show how flattering the leggings could be when balanced with the proper footwear. Another longtime customer came in wearing Priorities sweatpants she'd bought 10 years ago and walked out in an updated boot-cut yoga pant.
D'Agostino says she enjoys going to work to hang out with her clients, sipping wine and doling out words of encouragement. Offering a keen eye for fit, suggestions about going up or down a size and emotional support when a customer doesn't feel confident about her body type, she's less of a salesman and more of personal shopper and style therapist. Anyone can come in and get the royal treatment, but there's one rule by which Priorities customers must abide: "If you say the F-word (fat), you'll get kicked out of here," D'Agostino says.