Shopping

Navigating the city's retail scene can be overwhelming. That's why we've listed all the top stores and fashionable finds in one place

Vintage Clothing

It may have changed street numbers this year when it moved into Plaza Midwood's central block of shops, but nothing's changed about Hong Kong Vintage's eclectic array of ensembles from bygone days. Look for racks full of recycled riches and rows of toe pumps and cowboy and construction boots from decades past on the floor below. You'll find treasures like suede trenches, sequined evening gowns, and 1960s-era fringe coats in prices starting in the single digits in this diverse shop. And now you can bring along the little ones -- Hong Kong has added vintage children's wear to its historical hodgepodge.
1514 Central Ave., 704-334-0538

Stylish Gifts

Regardless of the occasion we're shopping for, Paper Skyscraper continues to be our go-to store for great gifts. Be it Snow & Graham stationery for your stylish sister, a hand-blown glass vase for your hostess mom, an Obama action figure for your politician-in-training nephew, or Moravian cookies for your foodie best friend, this is the best spot to stock up on presents. Plus, pick up a MikWright or Papyrus greeting card and handmade, patterned wrapping paper, too. 330 East Blvd., 704-333-7130

Denim

As fans of finding the oh-so-coveted triple-threat jean -- functional, fashionable, and flattering -- we love south Charlotte's hot new denim hub, Denim Affair. Shelves of blues border the perimeter of the boutique and jeans are organized by style (skinny, slouchy, splattered, boyfriend, and more) and designer (AG, Anlo, Denim of Virtue, David Kahn, and a dozen others). In one last effort to make jean shopping as painless as possible, the store is split into two sections -- jeans over and under $100. Shops at Blakeney, 9848 Rea Rd., Ste. E, 704-341-4791

Lingerie

Don't let the cutesy name fool you; I. C. London is filled with some seriously sexy lingerie. You'll find cozy cotton sleeper sets, daring feather- embossed heels, and feminine silk slips in luxury lines like Flirt, Simone Perele, Rosa Faia, and Panache. Plus, with the help of the store's skilled sales associates, you can flatter your figure with an expert bra fitting. Add any number of nifty shapers and concealers—laser cut thongs, dimmers, and shirt extenders -- to your knickers' drawer and you'll be so tucked, contoured, and slimmed that your confidence will be as high as your curves.
Shops at Twin Oaks, 1419 East Blvd., Ste. F, 704-377-7955 Ballantyne Village, 14825 John J. Delaney Dr., Ste. 135, 704-369-5210

New Boutique

Ring the doorbell at Laura James Jewelry in Dilworth and you'll beckon James from her open studio in the back of the store, where she creates fresh baubles and bangles. In the bright and airy entry area, an ornate Italian Murano chandelier illuminates tables of trendy trinkets, pretty earrings, and rings bearing precious stones. Looking for something completely unique? Call on James to rework a vintage pendant, personalize a bracelet with hand- stamped initials or dates, or outfit your bridesmaids with pearly wonders. Shops at Twin Oaks, 1419 East Blvd., Ste. K, 704-372-1267

Boutique Clothing at Non-Boutique Prices

You might step into K-La, nestled among the swanky shops at Phillips Place, expecting price tags comparable to its luxurious neighbors. But bargain shoppers, put your wallets and minds at ease. You'll find adorable $40-and- below dresses, stylish sunglasses starting at $18, and rockin' handbags and clutches ranging from $30 to $100. And with fabulous end-of-the-season sales on top designer labels, this
little shop is a great place to get your boutique fix without breaking the bank. Phillips Place, 6815 Phillips Place Ct., Ste. B, 704- 643-7800

Worldly Goods

We love a place that takes us off the streets of Charlotte and into another country -- or in Pura Vida's case, several countries. This Central Avenue shop continues to wow us with its wide array of cross-cultural collectibles. You'll step into the aroma of incense burning, through Vietnamese hand-painted bamboo curtains, and by Buddhist prayer deities before you even hit the register. Stocking everything from goat's milk soaps made in N.C.'s very own Blue Ridge Mountains to Bolivian blouses, Mayan sling wraps, Afghan wedding hats, and Hmong tribal skirts, Pura Vida is our melting pot market Mecca. 1521 Central Ave., 704-335-8587

Men's Wear

We haven't forgotten about you, fellas. Want a look that says you just graced the cover of GQ or just a little something to spiff up your office -- and after-office -- attire? Make a trip to Taylor Richards Conger. With the men's-wear mainstay's dressed-to-impress sales associates at your disposal, scoring style is easy. And with made-to-measure custom-tailoring services on location, each purchase can be tailored to fit you perfectly. The owners have handpicked each and every item odon the floor, from the sleek Armani dress shirts to the more casual Zenga sports jackets, John Varvatos sweaters, and Diesel Jeans. Peruse the cufflinks, Ferragamo suede shoes, ties, and shoulder bags while your measurements are being calculated. Phillips Place, 6907 Phillips Place Ct., 704-366-9092

Trendiest Boutique

With bright green and pink toile vintage love seats and sparkling crystal chandeliers, the interior of SouthPark shop Scout & Molly's is as trendy as they come -- and that's before you even consider all those fashionable pieces lining the racks. Filling her store faithfully with staples like this spring's 1950s dresses, trench coats, and florals by designers like Alice & Trixie, Ella Moss, and Autumn Cashmere, owner and buyer Megan O. Tee keeps us up-to-date on the season's hottest trends.
3920 Sharon Rd., Ste. B150, 704-817-7009

Maternity

You're not just eating for two for the next nine months -- you're also dressing for two. And though you've bid adieu to a slender figure for a while, we're guessing you're not ready to say farewell to fashion. Head to Haute Momas of Lake Norman, where you can fill your closet with Michael Stars Maternity, Paige Denim, and Jules & Jim, and then stock up on some stylish post-preggo must-haves like Belli body products, Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bags, and even Medela pumps. 21305 Catawba Ave., Cornelius, 704-987-9123

Baby and Children's Shop

SouthPark's cutest shop, nesting, is packed with miniature-size furniture, soft linens, and the like for our little ones' rooms. "Shaggy Raggy" rugs, trendy Serena & Lilly bedding, local wall art, and super-soft Jelly Cat stuffed animals only hint at nesting's amazing selection of baby shower basics and to-die-for décor. Plus, expert on-hand interior design services make putting together a cool space for your tyke a walk in the park.
Specialty Shops on the Park, 6401 Morrison Blvd., Ste. 16A, 704-366-3787

Costume Jewelry

When it comes to hand crafting cut jewelry, the tiny boutique On-a-String Bead Shop is the place to go. And with loads of options (stay simply chic or go glitz), you can make as much or as little of a statement as you like. Just choose your beads from a variety of colors and materials, including aquamarine, glass, and real turquoise, and let the talented sister-owners whip you up one-of-a-kind bracelets, broaches, and earrings in no time. They'll even give your favorite heirlooms, like antique tennis bracelets or vintage lockets, attractive face-lifts. 416 Providence Rd., 704-334-1110

Local Boutique Web Site

We've long succumbed to the Internet's lure of online perusing for our next purchases from the comfort of our couch. These days, though, plenty of shops around town are offering their wares online as well. None do it better than Dilworth's chic boutique, Petal. The site, which is frequently updated with new arrivals, offers women's, children's, and baby clothes from lines like Amanda Uprichard and Shoshanna all for low, local shipping costs. No leaving the couch required. 1315 East Blvd., 704-817-8871, shoppetal.com

Bathing Suits

Not the fighting-tooth-and-nail-through-the-racks-at-Target-for-your-next-swimsuit type? Prefer to hit the pool with a little more panache? Enter E. Martini. Each spring the SouthPark shop offers figure-flattering suits and leaves the mass-produced stuff to the department stores. With custom tailoring, you can have cups added and cuts made on such lines as Vix, Trina Turk, Carmen Marc Valvo, and Juicy Couture and fashions that span the spectrum -- Brazilian, American, and full cut -- to create that can't-live-without suit no one else has. Shops at Morrison, 720 Governor Morrison St., 704-553-2660

Out-of-the-Ordinary Finds

There's nothing ordinary about a shop that features an old French commode filled with flowers and a hot pink faucet on its sales floor. At Green with Envy, the eclectic little establishment along the Shoppes at Eleven-Eleven, the unexpected powder-room pieces are merely alternatives to merchandise tables or shelves. You'll find price tags tacked to aged metal bird cages and guitar-shaped caboodles, crocheted baby booties, and decks of cards featuring images of Charlotte artwork. Plus, look for finds like silk blouses and Hobo International clutches.
Shoppes at Eleven-Eleven, 1111 Central Ave., 704-344-8774

Local Designs

Nestled in the artsy North Davidson neighborhood is Boulevard at NoDa, a studio-shop packed with local -- and seriously cool -- goods. The large space features booths and racks from a variety of local designers and artists. You'll find canvas prints and paintings, blouses, and dresses bearing original images, hand-stitched and beaded handbags and satchels, and even Boulevard's own brand of graphic tees and totes. Meanwhile, fun jewelry and funky scarves dangle from every corner of the floor.
453 E. Thirty-sixth St., 704-332-0142

Shop Pet

Sure, we love a skilled salesperson with a spunky personality and a great sense of style, but we especially love one who will greet us on four legs with a wagging tail and a few wet kisses. If you're searching for a pair of sky-high boots, you might miss Step by Sloan's smallest salesman, a little dachshund named Spike. When he's not scampering alongside Step's shoe guru and his owner, Dan Mauney, Spike strolls the floor, taking inventory of the chic selection of women's shoes. But don't worry: when it comes to chewing, Spike prefers his squeaky toys to Pella Moda pumps. 1419 East Blvd., Ste. M, 704-376-1275

We invite your responses and discussion. Please refrain from personal attacks, profanity, commercial promotion, or non sequiturs.

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