Austin, Texas is one of the fastest growing cities in the US and a prime destination for a long weekend, so we turned to stylish local Tess Bruns, a creative director who has lived in ATX for almost 20 years, to tell us where to go, what to see, and what to eat! Read on for her picks and hear how she applied her unique sense of style to her Merlette pieces.
Q: How long have you lived in Austin? What is your favorite part of living there?
A: I’ve been in Austin since 2004! There are so many things to like about living here, but my favorite is probably having Lady Bird Lake in the middle of downtown with the ability to enjoy it on your lunch break! It’s such a unique feature that can’t easily be replicated anywhere else.
Q: What do you love most about the locations you've selected?
A: We are lucky to have a lot of things to do and places to go in Austin, but I made my choices because they aren't the obvious tourist destinations in the city. When I visit a place, I appreciate having insider info from locals and going to the hidden gems, which makes the trip more special and unique. I've been going to Laguna Gloria since I moved to Austin in 2004, and it's a special place to experience art and the outdoors.
There are also many hotels in the city, but the Carpenter Hotel has one of the best (if not the best) pools and great food. I love the chill ambiance — it's been one of my favorite places to staycation. In a city of many bars, Lolo stands out for its unique natural wine selections. And despite being in such an accessible location on East 6th Street, it feels like a hole-in-the-wall bar in the best possible way.
Q: What's your go-to at Lolo Wine Bar?
A: Whenever I'm at Lolo, I like to have a glass of the Della Staff Litro. It's an orange wine and is very drinkable and refreshing. Also, the baked pretzel is out of this world!
Q: What do you enjoy most about visiting The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria?
A: The Contemporary Austin - Laguna Gloria almost feels like an escape from the city. It's a unique place in that you get to experience history, art and nature, including views of the water. It’s not a surprise that it’s a popular spot for professional photography and weddings.
Q: How did you approach the styling for your Merlette shoot?
A: I love to wear color and print together, so I paired the pink MABEL Dress with zebra print pumps. We were shooting this look outside, so I added some pink lensed aviators to reference the pink in the dress.
For the JUDD Sweater and IDA Skirt, I added some gold hoop earrings, my initial necklace, and cream-colored pumps. The mismatched print was a statement in itself and I wanted to make sure the accessories didn’t overpower or clash.
I paired the denim-on-denim look with a modern take on a cowboy boot, updated aviators and gold drop earrings. This look especially feels very Austin-y to me.
Q: What appeals to you about Merlette's clothing for wearing out in Austin?
A: The clothing is both effortless and elevated as well as versatile, which all lends itself the Austin vibe and lifestyle. Additionally, the fabrics are natural and breathable — both key in this hot climate! I wear natural fabrics as much as I can in the summer, and I layer using accessories and sheer or netted fabrics which add interest to an outfit.
Q: Austin is booming right now. What are you most excited about and what do visitors find the most surprising?
A: I continue to be excited about Austin’s growth. Personally, I’m most excited about fashion — attracting more brands and becoming recognized as a shopping destination. The second thing I’m most excited about is new restaurants! Many visitors are surprised that Austin has more to offer than BBQ and TexMex; we have a really good food scene and it’s only getting better. I never want the city to lose its uniqueness as it grows and evolves; I don’t want to see the homogeneity that’s commonplace in many other areas.
Photographed by Cristina Fisher