Berkeley Boutique To Visit: Rue Atelier


To follow up on my Floral and Fabulous outfit post from a couple days ago, I am sharing my visit to Berkeley boutique, Rue Atelier. I found Joie’s Larose dress there, and also found a fashion expert in Rue Atelier’s owner, Barbara Dryden. Barbara has a refined eye for style, and is committed to bringing quality and versatile pieces to her store. We talked about how she got into the business, what trends she is excited about for Spring, and which East Bay restaurant she would take her fashion icon to for lunch. Read on to see!


24 East: What is your background?

Barbara Dryden: Both of my parents were interested in fashion and clothing.  My mom used to make all her own clothes, and outfits for my sister and I.  On special occasions, my dad would take my sister and I to small boutiques to shop for my mom.  He enjoyed shopping for her, and so did we.  I started working retail in my early 20’s at Macy’s and Banana Republic.  About 10 years later my sister opened up her own boutique and I helped with the buying and merchandising.  In 2006 I opened up my first boutique in Marin, and then in 2010 I opened Rue Atelier in Berkeley.

24E: Why did you choose to have your store here?  

BD: I live in Oakland and wanted a women’s clothing boutique closer to where I live.  I fell in love with the Elmwood neighborhood and knew it was the right location for the kind of shop I wanted to open.

24E: What is the biggest challenge with running your own business?

BD:  I wear all the hats of my business from marketing, accounting, cleaning lady, to sales woman. At times, it can be challenging staying on top of every aspect and keeping a balance with what needs to be done.

24E: What is your personal style?

BD: I consider my style to be fairly classic.  I tend to wear pieces that stay in style for years.  Some of my favorite pieces in my closet are 10 years old and I still wear them.

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24E: What common mistake do you see people make with their clothing?

BD: I see a lot of women buying pieces that they love, but they don’t know how to wear them or they don’t have the right item to match their favorite piece.  They have a favorite skirt or blouse that they never wear because they don’t have the right item to match and make an outfit.


24E: What do you love about being in the Elmwood? 

BD: After being here for over 5 1/2 years, I truly feel like I am part of the community now.  The Elmwood is a small, quaint, shopping and dining “neighborhood”.  It still has wonderful independent retailers and restaurants.

24E: What designers inspired you? 

BD: I find my inspiration from many stylists, celebrities, and designers. Some of my favorites are Olivia Palermo, Rachel Comey, Diane Von Furstenberg, Tibi, Anine Bing, and Ulla Johnson.


24E: What famous designer would you love to have lunch with and where would you go?  

BD: I would love to meet Diane Von Furstenberg.  I have always loved her style and think she is an amazing business woman.  I would have to take her to Chez Panisse!

24E: What trends are you excited about for Spring?

BD: I love all the vivid colors, red, orange, and navy.  Also, you will see lots of shoulders.  Off the shoulder and cold shoulder blouses and dresses are fresh and sexy.


24E: What is your favorite East Bay restaurant?

BD: I am a big fan of Wood Tavern.  I feel lucky that it is just a couple blocks from the shop.  I also love the outside patio at A Cote on a date night.

24E: When are you happiest? 

BD: I am happiest when I am at market with my sister and at my shop styling clients!

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Photography by Anya Ku

Visit Rue Atelier here


  • Dani

    That’s my most common mistake. Only buying pieces and not outfits. Great interview.

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