Cream tea couture: West coast styling at Roo’s Beach, Porth

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Every time I’ve come to Cornwall’s north coast, I’ve passed Roo’s Beach lifestyle boutique on the road into Newquay. With its funky pink logo and cute coffee shop out front, I’d think how different the clothes, sunglasses and beach towels were from the usual West Country shop, with their inevitable surf or hippie seaside vibe.

Walking into the refreshingly upbeat Roo’s Beach, it’s clear that no one will suffer from buyer’s regret after shopping here on holiday. The brains behind this thriving business is mother-of-three Roo Cross, 50, who took the plunge and moved to Cornwall from Winchester eight years ago.

‘We just couldn’t bear to leave Cornwall after a holiday,’ says Roo. ‘Every time we left to go home to Winchester we felt really depressed. So we thought, let’s do it! My eldest child, Archie, was at secondary school and just about to choose his GCSE options, Molly had just started secondary and Betsy was still in primary, so it was a good point to make the move. I was a garden designer then, but I didn’t really want to work in such a solitary job any more. A little shop in Mawgan Porth came up and we got the lease.

JANE. Quay Breeze sunglasses in gold/ brown, £45; Bellerose Loumi Leopard Print faux fur coat, £288; Custommade Dorthea Tawny Port jumper, £130; Levi’s 501 Skinny Coal black jeans, £99
SCARLETT. Quay Crazy Love sunglasses, £45; Bellerose Lonu Leopard Print faux fur jacket, £220; Levi’s The Perfect Box White T, £29.95; Levi’s 501 Crop Authentically Yours blue jeans, £99; Stance Foundation Overjoyed socks, £12.99 Vans Anaheim Factory Authentic 44

‘I’d always been a massively keen shopper and all my life lots of people have said I should be a personal shopper, so we thought we’d try to bring in brands that weren’t being represented in Cornwall. Then, literally within six months, this larger shop in Porth came up. We bought the site, because the shop in Mawgan Porth was too tiny and we really only sold accessories for a day on the beach – towels, cameras, waterproof radios, plus a little bit of swimwear.

‘We did quite a big refurb and that’s when we thought, let’s do fashion and let’s not do the surf brands, because everyone else sells them. Since then I would say our style has evolved to be very much denim, knitwear and prints. It’s really relaxed. It’s unstructured. It’s what we all wear on a day-to-day basis.

‘People come in and balk at spending a hundred quid on a pair of jeans which they would live in every day, and yet they’ll spend £300 on an outfit for a wedding that they’ll wear once and then it will sit in the wardrobe. That’s an education in reverse thinking. Our ethos is to spend less on occasional wear, but invest in great demin and knitwear that you’re going to end up living in and will make you feel amazing.

JANE. Leon & Harper chocolat blue dots shirt, £130; Pernille Corydon Corona gold necklace, £81; Levi’s wide leg pleated LB Afina jeans, £105; Penelope Chilvers pony leopard mid heel clogs, £159
SCARLETT. American Vintage boolder pink dew melange cardigan, £130; Wildfox ‘Part Ravioli’ slogan T, £68; Levi’s wide leg pleated LB Afina jeans, £105; Vans Anaheim Authentic 44 DX black trainers, £57

‘I think it’s really interesting how so many people buy clothes on holiday that they’ll never wear when they get back home. Now I do it in reverse. When I go to London, I think, oh my god, what am I going to wear?

‘A lot of people follow us online – they watch what we put up – but they want to come into the store. If they’re coming down, they’ll make a special journey to come to our slightly offbeat location. They do it as part of an experience. It’s called ‘slow shopping’. You come, you have a coffee, it’s part of your holiday or, for locals, they come for the day. We’re embracing this in our own Cornish style that’s emerging from Roo’s Beach.

‘We use the hashtag #happyclothes, as we sell so much colour. We realise that people come to us for this, so we actually don’t sell any black at all. It’s the light here. When you’re coastal, you wear colour a lot more than in the city.

JANE. American Vintage Aleksa Vine Red Blazer jacket, £115; Free People Time To Shine Navy Slip dress, £68; Barts Mishka Army scarf, £56.99; Levi’s Made & Crafted 711 Selvedge Sky Indigo Blue jeans, £120; Clarks Originals Brick Desert boots, £105
SCARLETT. Mads Nørgaard Jersey Dip Teasy Red T, £40; Free People Time To Shine Gold Slip dress, £68; Dear Denier Rebecca 20 Denier Black tights, £14; Stance Foundation Overjoyed socks, £12.99; Vans Anaheim Authentic 44 DX Black trainers, £57

‘American Vintage is our best selling brand. Most people know it by the basics – because you can buy them in white, grey, navy and black – but if we get a really great colour in, we’ll sell lots of it, because customers come for the colour.

‘Wildfox, from California, which does slouchy sweatshirts and T-shirts, and Free People are both really big brands for us. They have an amazing sense of fun and are very feminine. Free People are very fashion focused, but in an easy, accessible way. They don’t pigeonhole you. It’s a brand that’s ageless. Whereas its sister brands, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters, tend to veer to the older and younger woman. Free People are opening a store in Covent Garden, but at the moment not many UK shops sell it, so it’s cool to have it here in Cornwall.

‘Levi’s is one of our top brands, because they’ve invested so much in designing and marketing to women of all ages in the past few years. Take the 90s baggy, which they did last summer – we sold more of them than any other style of jean. My daughter Betsy, who’s 15, is wearing them and my mum Danny, 75, also bought a pair for herself.

From left: Roo’s daughter Betsy, Jane, Scarlett and Roo

‘I’m seeing the rise of cross- generational dressing. So often the press and designers put women in age brackets, but I think there shouldn’t be any barriers. Recently, my mother-in-law, Irene, 83, my best friend, Liz, 46, and my daughter Molly, 19, all tried on the French brand, Leon & Harper’s tailored checked trousers and everyone loved them.

‘My daughters take my clothes, especially Molly. She really loves all the things we stock and I’ve been influenced by her own young style.

‘Where do you go to shop when all the shops you liked have changed or you’ve changed? Where do I shop and what do I want to wear? That’s what we’re developing the answer to at Roo’s Beach: a more relaxed sense of style, taking denim as the central piece and building up from this solid foundation.’

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