While dresses, blouses, hats and shoes steal most storefronts’ limelight, SRQ takes a little trip to the back of a newly-opened boutique to sit down with owner and buyer, Kendall Stone. We talk shop on quality leisurewear/lingerie and elevated basics for everyday comfort, with some cuteness, in an effort to feel and look good when we're dressed down with nowhere to go. 

Opening its doors this past May in Historic Burns Court, Motel Therapy flutters between elevated grunge and trendy boho—from tie-dyed band tees and frayed denim shorts to flowy rompers and crop tops to be worn with a feminine tomboy flair. Shoppers eventually find themselves gravitating toward the shelving in the back of the shop, where the lacy frills and flirty sets are as bold as they are delicate.

A rack of super soft nighties and cozy wear-anywhere staples hang near the (un)dressing room. Stone helps customers trade in their housebound baggy sweatpants for flirty bralettes, boy shorts and edgy loungewear. And though everything is moving back to “normal,” that relaxed wardrobe mentality is still present—a desire to slip on something that equally imparts the same confident prowess and ethereal femininity in a board meeting as a bed meeting lingers. “The timing of opening Motel Therapy worked out perfectly,” Stone admits. “I think women, as a whole, not only got used to dressing down, but are now loving living in comfort. That being said, they still want to find ways to feel ‘put together,’ modern, elevated and feminine.” 

Though Stone has worked most of her young career in hotel operations—from managing housekeeping to serving as director of rooms for Hyatts and Westins in Carlsbad, Seattle and Sarasota—she has always had her eye on brands of slow fashion. Her shop’s name cheekily plays off of the mantra “retail therapy”—but why Motel Therapy instead of Hotel Therapy? For Stone, motels represent more of an authentic, vintage vibe and cooler aesthetic than hotels. “My aesthetic has always leaned vintage,” she says, “whether it’s grainy film photos or throwback styles.”

They say they don’t make things like they used to, and many buyers are finding it harder in modern fashion to find brands/manufacturers with a committed awareness and approach to slow fashion (meaning ethical processes and sustainable resources required to make better-quality garments that will last longer than those made by mass-producing fast fashion opponents). Don’t let the dainty nature of the shop’s loungewear and lingerie fool you—these items were carefully chosen to endure many washes and wears, bolstering the newfound conviction to live indefinitely in comfort (whether the “Do Not Disturb” sign is on the door or not).

Among the brands, Motel Therapy carries a high-end intimates and loungewear line called Only Hearts—founded by Helena Stuart in 1978 as fashion’s first “Inner Outerwear”™. And though fashion has evolved since the ‘70s, Only Hearts upholds that charming vintage vibe. Sustainably manufactured in New York City using local, deadstock, organic, recycled and certified green textiles, the collection’s footprint is as light and gentle as its bralettes. Each piece has a bit of sweetness and sexuality, with just a little bit of sensuous intention. But beyond the alluring and naughty nature of the pieces, they’re meant to be as comfortable as a favorite pair of jammies. Requesting “turn down service” just got a whole new meaning. SRQ

532 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, 941-260-2277, moteltherapy.com, @moteltherapy