May 25, 2011
2011 Hot List: Shopping
100+ things in St. Louis we can't live without.
Story: By Jill Manoff
Photos: By Attilio D'Agostino
If you call boutiques and department stores heavy in trends and designer labels your "happy places," you're in the right city. The only problem you'll likely face is choosing which shops to browse first. But not to worry, our list of top shopping spots will help you choose wisely, even if it encourages some not-so-wise spending.
Best Boutique: Blush
Stopping in a store for just one thing can be dangerous–especially when that store is Blush, where fab new styles by all of your favorite lines (Jeffrey Campbell, Free People, Wildfox Couture) are decorating every rack, shelf, nook, and cranny. Proceed with caution, and try to maintain focus. Kirkwood, 314.965.4411.
Best New Boutique: Meka
It's tough to be the new kid in town—that is, unless you're not "cliquey" and can get along merrily with the masses. Enter Chesterfield's new Meka boutique. Thanks to its wide selection of soft-and-feminine to super-edgy pieces, it received a warm welcome across the board. Lesson learned: Don't be a fashion snob. Chesterfield, 636.536.6300.
Best Women's Boutique: Ivy Hill
With of-the-moment lines like Cynthia Steffe and French Connection, this CWE boutique is every girly girl's choice hangout. And this should come as no surprise, given the warm and inviting personality owner Hillary Dutcher instills in every nook and cranny. Central West End, 314.367.7004.
Best Menswear: Neiman Marcus
If one needs a reason to spend time on his appearance, he need only compare Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man," pre- and post-makeover. The best source for an "after" look? Neiman Marcus, home to Armani suits, Michael Kors separates, Prada shoes and—yes—underwear. Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9811.
Best Shoe Selection: Nordstrom
There's a safe bet you've walked into a shoe department and felt like a kid in a candy store; for many, Nordstrom consistently evokes such a response—with its colorful array of sandals, stilettos, platforms and pumps by all of fashion's top brands. In a word: delicious. West County Center, 314.255.2000.
Best Designer Selection: Saks Fifth Avenue
If you just saw it on the runway or the red carpet, there's a safe bet you'll be seeing it at Saks. Offering the latest by such lines as Chanel, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan, the Plaza Frontenac store will have you shopping like a star—and begging to be asked, "Who are you wearing?" Plaza Frontenac, 314.567.9200.
Best Wardrobe Staples: Eileen Fisher
Don't fall victim to the all-too-familiar fate of splurging on special occasion dresses, only to skimp on equally crucial everyday looks. If we've got your number, it's a safe bet you haven't been tapping into the better-than-basics at Eileen Fisher. Shop the store's upscale wearables, including chic dresses, denim, jackets and more, then (gasp!) borrow your next ball gown. Plaza Frontenac, 314.983.0975.
Best Place for Celeb Looks: Klutch
If you shop at Klutch and become a household name, there's a safe bet you'll wind up on a popular page in "Us Weekly." Carrying such celeb-loved lines as L.A.M.B., Wildfox Couture and Meghan by Meghan Fabulous, you can get a Hollywood-perfect look now and "win" later; you'll wear it best, of course. Town & Country, 636.220.6110.
Best Handbags: Macy's
Ever since the term "status bag" came to be, women have been clutching their purses like irreplaceable puppies. Fitting, especially if they scored a handbag at Macy's—where Coach, Kate Spade and MICHAEL Michael Kors styles are just a few of many designer offerings that should be petted, loved and cherished. Saint Louis Galleria, 314.726.1810.
Best Fine Jewelry: Elleard Heffern Fine Jewelers
With its sparkly selection of fine jewelry by the best in the biz (including H. Stern and Roberto Coin), plus a super-impressive selection of unique estate pieces, entering Elleard Heffern Fine Jewelry feels like meeting the end of a successful treasure hunt, without having to brave the hunt. Clayton, 314.863.8820.
Best Fashion Jewelry: Alixandra Collections
With a well stocked inventory that includes Viv & Ingrid earrings, Citrine by the Stones bangles, rings, lockets, pearls and more, Alixandra Collections is best described as an oversized jewelry box for the accessory enthusiast; all that's missing is a ballerina that spins to music. Ladue, 314.997.2360.
Best Diamond Jewelry: Tiffany & Co.
Established in 1837, Tiffany & Co. has long maintained its reputation as the premier source for quality diamond engagement rings, wedding rings, earrings and more—proof that turning "cheap" is not an inevitable cause of fame, despite what Young Hollywood suggests. Plaza Frontenac, 314.692.2255.
Best Custom Jewelry: The Diamond Shop
When only custom-made will do, make a beeline to see owner and graduate gemologist Thom Kohn from The Diamond Shop. With a one-of-a-kind custom design process, Thom goes to great lengths to ensure the finished piece is nothing short of spectacular by conducting in-depth consultations, sketched designs, hand-carved wax models and in-house diamond and jewel setting. It doesn't get much more custom than that. Clayton, 314.721.2210.
Best Jewelry for Men: Mavrik Fine Jewelry
Most STL men know that one is never fully dressed without at least a few pieces of jewelry—so shop Mavrik for affordable watches, diamond-studded dog tags, bold cufflinks and more. Others still shy away from such extras, for whatever reason; we blame Mr. T. Kirkwood, 314.909.6818.
Best Denim: Sole and Blues
Forget "It's my middle name;" The Loop's longstanding source for killer casuals more boldly proclaims its denim and shoes expertise via its clever title. Styles by Hudson, G-Star and more define the ever-evolving boutique's incomparable jeans selection. The Loop, 314.863.2121.
Best Gifts: The Service Bureau
'Tis better to give than to receive—or so we've been told. If your acts of kindness typically start with a trip to The Service Bureau for gift-perfect stationery, picture frames, home décor and jewelry, it's a safe bet you agree. Ladue, 314.991.1104.
Best Furniture Selection: Niche Home Furnishings
With a 5,000-square-foot showroom showcasing modern home furnishings, textiles and handmade accessories, how could you not be in home furnishing nirvana at Niche? Its interior designers will help you find the right statement pieces, and if you can't find it on the showroom floor, they'll custom order your dream piece that's sure to make you say, "There's no place like home." Downtown, 314.621.8131.
Best Activewear: Blue Moon Activewear
Wearing makeup to the gym and wearing cute clothes are two different things; bronzer and blush say, "I have no intention of sweating." A colorful, yoga-ready ensemble from Blue Moon Activewear? "I can downward-dog like nobody's business, and will look better than you while doing it, rookie." Clayton, 314.256.1823.
Best Vintage Shop: tag
If you live on a budget and covet many a celebrity's style, you're undoubtedly loving their go-to of late: "My style is a mix of designer and vintage." Heavy in hippie-chic frocks, fringe jackets, cowboy boots and more, tag can easily hook you up with at least one-half of the stars' winning combo. The Loop, 314.721.1370.
Best Lingerie: Jule
Those who would rather not shop lingerie from a costume-heavy runway hit up Jule, where they consistently find the latest by such luxe lines as Cosabella, Eberjey and PJ Harlow. The Ladue shop's stock of under-things, cozy jammies, gifts for the bride and more is fab for those who want to feel subtly sexy—and not like a French Maid with wings. Ladue, 314.983.9282.
Best Swimwear: Splash
When shopping swimwear, it's nice to have options; however, when shopping Splash, the vast choices could prove problematic. Upon trying on suits by Vix, Vitamin A, Rachel Pally and more, you'll undoubtedly find you need more styles than one—and your tan lines will inevitably suffer. Location in transit.
Best Sunglasses: Erkers Fine Eyewear
While it can be hard to come up with an excuse to shop the other two pieces (shoes and handbags) in the trio of "statement" musts, savvy shoppers know that sunglasses have a "practical" clause that allows them to shop Erkers often. You need a pair of Loree Rodkin's latest, just like you need a stunning David Yurman style as a backup. Your eyes are very delicate. Ladue, 314.997.0002.
Best Eyewear: The Eye Bar
Remember when you were a kid sporting a paperclip on your teeth in place of braces? Well, if you don't wear glasses, one stop at The Eye Bar will likely have you reverting to your old ways, and cursing your 20/20 vision. After browsing the latest by Chanel, Face a Face, Oliver Peoples and more, many find they need a frame—regardless of what their exam says. Central West End, 314.367.1848.
Best Local Bookstore: Left Bank Books
In school, you were stoked to visit the bookmobile; these days, Left Bank Books provides your lit fix. Offering a mega-selection of popular and hard-to-find books, plus a to-die-for magazine section, it's almost everything a bookworm could want; if only it could be on wheels. Central West End, 314.367.6731.
Best Home Goods: Savvy Surroundings
If dorm room remains still linger in your adult digs, you clearly have yet to call upon the experts at Savvy Surroundings. With their awe-inspiring interior design services, eclectic furniture, artwork, lamps and more, they'll have no problem hosting a long-overdue intervention; you can say goodbye to your lava lamp. Ladue, 314.432.7289.
Best Western Wear: GiddyUp Jane
There's a difference between dressing like a country singer and donning fab Western wear; if you belt out tunes about your wife, your dog and how life has done you wrong, there's a good chance you're rocking something satin, bedazzled and splattered with fringe. If you shop at GiddyUp Jane, you fall in the latter category—and sport the classics with poise and style, from great denim to cowboy boots. Ladue, 314.993.9944.
Best Local Gear: STyLehouse
Is that the Arch on your rear, or are you just happy to see me? Fine purveyors of fresh St. Louis merchandise that even a native can love, STyLehouse has been selling its custom-printed tees, undies, bags and other "Mound City" themed goods to those who appreciate the hipper points of our fine city since 2001. They recently expanded into a storefront in the Cherokee Arts District where they sell their wares and also provide custom screen-printing and design services. Cherokee Street, 314.494.7763.
Best Customized Trends: Cha
If you refuse to dress like everyone else, you need to be shopping at Cha. You'll not only find small buys on hard-to-find brands and styles, but–in many cases–Cha can customize items to make them one-of-a-kind. Love the new crocheted, glittered and printed TOMS? Not only does Cha stock an abundance of shoes by the hot brand-for-a-cause, but resident shopgirl and artist Maddie Scarfino's custom handpainted pairs are among the store's more popoular purchases. Ladue, 314.993.8080.
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