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From Prom To Mother Of The Bride, Darien Shop Stands Test Of Time

Forty years in business, Erica Jensen offers casual wear and accessories as well as more formal attire for women at Helen Ainson.
Forty years in business, Erica Jensen offers casual wear and accessories as well as more formal attire for women at Helen Ainson. Photo Credit: Vira Mamchur Schwartz
Professional, friendly service epitomizes shopping at Helen Ainson.
Professional, friendly service epitomizes shopping at Helen Ainson. Photo Credit: Vira Mamchur Schwartz
Erica Jensen offers classic clothes "with an edge" at Helen Ainson in Darien.
Erica Jensen offers classic clothes "with an edge" at Helen Ainson in Darien. Photo Credit: Vira Mamchur Schwartz

DARIEN, Conn. – Many stores and businesses have come and gone over the last two generations on  Boston Post Road, but one remains constant: Helen Ainson.

The Darien-based shop, owned by Rowayton resident Erica Jensen, recently celebrated 40 years in the business. It’s not your usual shop that can boast dressing the same woman for prom and her daughter’s wedding, but Helen Ainson can and does.

Jensen has always loved fashion. She learned firsthand working for her mother, Helen Ainson (for whom Jensen’s shop is named), one of the rare women who owned and operated her own clothing store, first in Manhattan (opening in 1948) and later moving it to Greenwich.

Jensen opened Helen Ainson after graduating from college and selected Darien because she felt the town needed a high-end ladies fashion store.

“I call my clothes classic with an edge,” said Jensen.

Jensen greets clients by name, asking about their families.  She is, without doubt, a "people person."

“It’s the most exciting thing to find something and watch a customer’s eyes light up," she said.

“We help people find the piece that’s right for them. If we don’t have it I’d rather they go elsewhere."

Jensen prides herself on the fact that you won’t find clothes so over the top that they will be out of style in a year. She aims to dress women not only for special occasions, but for work, evening, and weekend in a stylish and classic manner.

Various incarnations of the little black dress, for instance, have been a staple at the shop for all 40 years. One trend Jensen admits to following that looking back she wished she hadn’t? Those Dynasty/Dallas-inspired huge shoulders from the 1980s.

“I can’t believe I wore that,” said Jensen.

A big believer in giving back to the community, Jensen ran a successful breast cancer fundraiser for 10 years and has been very active in the Darien Chamber of Commerce.

For the past three years she's spearheaded a Toys for Tots drive via a fashion fundraiser at her shop. This year, on Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m., for a wrapped toy or $30 donation, revelers can attend a catered fashion show at the store. Last year’s drive brought in over $2,000 in toys, and Jensen plans to top that this year.

For more information about the shop and the Toys for Tots fashion show,  see Helen Ainson or visit at 1078 Boston Post Road in Darien or call 203-655-9841.

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