Best of Baltimore


The best shops for dresses, children and more

Accessories: Treasure House Accessories

When we’re feeling less than our best because our wardrobe seems like an homage to some younger, thinner self, there’s nothing quite as heartwarming as a trip to Treasure House Accessories. Co-owners Jodi Brodie (a former Saks Fifth Avenue buyer of the year) and her mom, Rhona Rosengarden, have a combined 49 years of retail experience and are trendsetters in their own right——stocking up on stylish color-block shawls, Marcia Moran druzy rings, Alexis Bittar Lucite bracelets, and House of Harlow clutches——sometimes before they even appear at the highest-end New York stores. And the best part? Accessories are generally one-size-fits-all! 9163 Reisterstown Road, Owings Mills, 410-363-4110.

Active Wear: lululemon athletica

What is it about lululemon athletica that gets our endorphins going before we even hit the gym? From luxe “luon” tanks to stylish après jogging jackets and form-fitting yoga pants, it’s where high fashion meets fitness. And while we can feel the burn of these pricey togs at the register, hemming is free, and every purchase gets wrapped in an iconic red-and-white recyclable bag (with inspirational sayings such as, “Dance, sing, floss, and travel”) that doubles as a great beach tote and ameliorates all sticker shock. 1724 Aliceanna Street, 410-537-5120.

Avant-Garde Boutique: Katwalk

Stores like Katwalk make the fashion scene in Baltimore that much cooler. You’ll find edgy names like Naven (frequently seen on the likes of Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry) and Cesar Arellanes that differ from the contemporary lines at most shops in the city. It’s not just the cool factor that makes this boutique successful (this year marked its 15th anniversary), but its long tradition of giving back as well (like the store’s own Shoes That Fit program that gives new shoes to more than 200 kids every year). 1709 Aliceanna Street, 410-669-0600.

Books: The Ivy Bookshop

In this age of e-books and chain stores, The Ivy Bookshop endears itself to us just a little more every year. While other bookstores may place an emphasis on quantity, The Ivy carries a carefully curated selection of books and boasts an expert sales staff of voracious readers who can make recommendations on every subject from architecture to politics to children’s lit. New owners Ed and Ann Berlin are keeping up the store’s tradition and then some, drawing national and international authors——including literary luminaries Simon Mawer and Alan Furst and the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.——to sign and speak at in-house events. 6080 Falls Road, 410-377-2966.

Consignment: Wear It’s At

Think consignment means last year’s styles? Guess again. With brands ranging from Free People, Splendid, and Ella Moss to Chanel, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, Wear It’s At is as trendy as any retail boutique. Having just doubled in size, this consignment shop now offers a luxe designer room, as well as a great selection of plus-size clothing. And there’s more! All overstock is donated to Suited to Succeed, a nonprofit helping women transitioning back into the workforce, and Cinderella’s Closet, which provides prom dresses for girls who could not otherwise afford a frock. 49 Main Street, Reisterstown, 410-526-2003.

Customer Service: Samuel Parker Clothier

A store as refined as Samuel Parker Clothier would, of course, have an owner possessing manners to match. Ken Himmelstein makes sure his customers receive first-class service in a way that would make Emily Post proud. Whether he’s engaging you in warm conversation or making sure you get the best deal on your goods (he’s known to contact customers about price adjustments), Himmelstein carries on his grandfather’s legacy by making sure this traditional men’s clothing shop maintains the same level of good ol’ customer service that Samuel himself provided way back in 1923. 6080 Falls Road, 410-372-0078.

Day to Night Clothing: Babe

With an already hectic day, who has time for a wardrobe change? That’s why we love Babe——they do the hard work for us. Owner Lisa Ponzoli buys the sort of items——comfy Splendid tees, perfect-fitting DL1961 denim, flirty BCBG dresses, and fun Ella Moss tops——that make it easy to transfer from day to night. (Hint: Lose the blazer over that strapless Charlie Jade number to turn heads at dinnertime.) 1716 Aliceanna Street, 410-244-5114.

Denim: Jean Pool

Buying jeans is not an exact science, but Scott Wable, co-owner (with Josh Dunkin) of Jean Pool makes it seem that way. Wable, a former window dresser for Nordstrom, knows how to pull just the right jean to flatter every figure——especially those who insist they can never find the right fit. Wable keeps it current by stocking his L.A.-meets-Charm-City-shop with J. Brand, Joe’s Jeans, Citizens of Humanity, and our favorite must-have of the moment——Bleulab’s très hot reversible jean (snakeskin on one side, coated cotton on the other). 92 Village Square, 410-466-1177.

Dresses: Cupcake

When your fridge is taken over by Save the Dates and RSVPs, the looming question is: What should I wear? For the past six years, Lisa Schatz and her Fells Point boutique Cupcake have been the de facto answer to that question. Party girls have been known to have just as much fun choosing from the racks of Parker, BCBG, Nicole Miller, Milly, and Black Halo frocks as they do at the actual event. 813 S. Broadway, 410-522-0941.

Expansion: Poppy and Stella

What’s better than Poppy and Stella? More Poppy and Stella! This March, the popular Fells Point women’s shoe store expanded its Fells Point boutique. The growth spurt gives them a chance to offer affordable (as in most things under $100) clothing and accessories like Fossil handbags and Ark & Co. tops and dresses. But shoes are still their first love: They’ve also added new lines like See by Chloe and Donald J Pliner to their already established brands including Frye, Miz Mooz, and Me Too. Two locations, including 728 S. Broadway, 410-522-1970.

Goods for Guys: Sixteen Tons

The backwards-baseball-cap set need not apply. Men’s specialty shop Sixteen Tons is for gentlemen—the kind who like aftershave, pomades, leather journals, and money clips. Owner Daniel Wylie not only keeps his store fully stocked with well-made threads, but he also carries all those extra accoutrements that make a man a man. Pop in for some Tiger Balm shaving lotion or extra sturdy Ozone socks to slip inside your classic Heritage Red Wing boots—which, of course, the store carries, too. 1100 W. 36th Street, 410-554-0101.

Handbags: Handbags in the City

Sugary candy is yummy, but there is something downright satisfying about the kind you wear on your arm. George Sakellaris and his team at Handbags in the City are happy to serve up those empty calories in the form of Kate Spade quilted shoulder bags, Tory Burch cross bodies, or large Michael Kors totes. Though the store has expanded into women’s clothing, shoes, and other accessories (be sure to check out their impressive collection of designer sunnies), one trip to this Harbor East boutique and you’ll never forget that it’s the bag that’s sweetest of all. 840 Aliceanna Street, 410-528-1443.

Heirloom Jewelry: Bijoux

The bad thing about museums is that you usually can’t touch the items on display, let alone take them home with you. All of which makes Bijoux even more amazing. Whether you’re searching for a vintage Tiffany & Co. 14k yellow gold and ruby ring, a rare Etruscan revival pendant, or a Georgian sapphire-and-enamel bracelet, Renee Wilson and her able staff will act as your personal tour guides through all things estate and antique jewelry——covering 200 years. The store also offers custom designs by master jeweler Richard Hoff on the off chance you didn’t find the treasure you came looking for. 10749 Falls Road, Lutherville, 410-823-5545.

Home Décor: Patrick Sutton Home

For an instantly posh pad, just mix in a few of the carefully curated pieces from the new Harbor East digs of Patrick Sutton Home. Tired of walking into a friend’s house only to see the same sofa that’s in your family room? Not so at Sutton, with its rare stock and one-of-a-kind items, including an antique, hand-carved Belgian buffet, vintage olive urns, and reclaimed wood mirrors. And if you don’t know a settee from an ottoman, the expert Sutton staff offers in-home consultation to assist in everything from lighting to artwork. 700 President Street, 410-605-0196.

Kid Boutique: Wee Chic

Look, there’s no need to dress your kid as Amish (unless, of course, she is Amish), but let’s try to keep it age appropriate, too, okay? Enter Wee Chic, which keeps it sweet yet sassy with trendy straw fedoras, motorcycle tees, mod bibs (drooling has never been so adorable), and winsome peasant tunics. We also love the Mommy’s Night Out store events (lactation consults, childhood specialists, and the like) and the free in-store sitting sessions with local photographer Laura Black. Our only complaint: Try as we might to fit into the batik sundresses, they only go up to a kid’s size 8. 10751 Falls Road, Lutherville, 410-878-7400.

Kitchen Gadgets: Wegmans

It’s hard enough under ideal circumstances to acheive domestic-goddess status, but take away the tools of the trade, and it’s darn near impossible. Have no fear: Wegmans’ gadget department caters to your inner Martha Stewart. Here, you’ll find miles of aisles stocked with precision kitchen scissors, state-of-the-art coffee makers, slate cheese boards, cherry pitters, and even unbleached parchment paper. There’s also a knowledgeable staff on hand for advice and demos for all those nagging kitchen questions. If you don’t find it here, it hasn’t been invented yet. 122 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, 410-773-3900.

Lingerie: The Bottom Drawer

Owner Julia Elgert possesses such a friendly attitude that even the shiest of men will feel comfortable shopping for your unmentionables in her shop. Now tucked away in Hampden, right off The Avenue, The Bottom Drawer still carries those popular lines like Hanky Panky, Mary Green, In Bloom, and Honeydew, but has added some vintage-inspired labels like Lucy B to match the retro vibe of the new digs. 1001A. W. 36th Street, 410-783-8998.

New Boutique: Brightside Boutique and Art Studio

Girls who love fashion dream of a couple of things: working in New York and opening their own boutique. Christie Griffiths, co-owner of the Brightside Boutique and Art Studio, can now say she’s checked both off of her list. In NYC, she worked for the likes of DVF and Rag & Bone, and, in her new Federal Hill shop, she gets to live out a third dream: working alongside her equally cool fiancé, tattoo artist Kiké Castillo. Griffiths has filled the front of her shop with über hip (and affordable) clothing and accessories lines like UNIF, MINKPINK, and See You Monday, while Castillo plies his trade in the back. 1133 S. Charles Street, 410-244-1133.

Old and new home accessories: Sweet Elizabeth Jane

It’s no surprise that an Ellicott City shop would be a haven for lost treasures. However, Sweet Elizabeth Jane gives this historic ’hood a fresh take on vintage and vintage-inspired home goods by blending popular lines like Papaya with restored items (some that owner Tammy Beideman repainted herself) like ladders, chairs, and chests. Housed inside of what was once a Caplan’s department store, the expansive space gives you more than enough room to roam while hunting for that ruffly apron or imported European wheelbarrow. 8125 Main Street, Ellicott City, 410-465-6400.

Resort Wear: Sassanova

We’ve always loved Sassanova for its assortment of fun accessories (earrings, bracelets, and bold statement necklaces) and its great shoe collection (DVF and Loeffler Randall), but another thing this boutique does right is evoke the vacationer in all of us. Maybe it’s the preppy-chic motif (how inviting is that adorable pink couch?) to match the mélange of Kate Spade tops and dresses? Or perhaps it’s the Roberta Freymann tunics, or the monogrammed beach bags? Then again, it could be the sassy sandals by Dolce Vita and Jack Rogers that have all of us feeling like we are the luckiest houseguest at a Cape Cod cottage. 805 Aliceanna Street, 410-244-1114.

Shoes: Matava Shoes

Any smart fashionista knows that the right pair of shoes can make even a burlap sack look like a style statement. At Matava Shoes, there’s not a bad shoe on the shelf, from Cordani fashion-forward wedges and Old Gringo artisan cowboy boots to Taryn Rose flats. Though pricey, you can walk more than a mile in these well-made shoes that stand up to days in the country and nights on the town. We also love that sister store Matava Too in Belvedere Square——which carries a more casual collection and extensive sale rack——offers a great alternative minus the splurge factor. 2360 W. Joppa Road, Lutherville, 410-583-6933.

Specialty Sizes: K Staton Boutique

Unfortunately, the curvier woman out there usually has a better chance of finding that trendy outfit she’s searching for by firing up her Web browser than she does by taking a trip to the mall. After experiencing this problem countless times, Jade Greer created K Staton to cater to young and stylish plus-sized women like herself. Greer makes her customers feel sexy and confident by carrying contemporary lines like Kiyonna and Monif C in sizes ranging from 12-30, and also offering fit-consulting classes to learn what works best for your body shape——without having to PayPal it and hope for the best. 1007-A W. 36th Street, 410-400-9113.

Ties: J.S. Edwards

Another day, another red tie. Sigh. Not so fast! Pikesville’s J.S. Edwards livens things up for the gents with a dizzying array of ties that are sure to make a statement. Look for silk, satin, and cotton neckwear from Dion, Duchamp, and Ted Baker in every conceivable kind of design——paisley, plaid, botanical, and stylish dotted bow-ties as well. Our favorite line? Ties by Robert Graham, who has sewn a hidden inspirational message, “knowledge, wisdom, truth,” into every purchase. 1809 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, 410-653-2266.

Toy Store: aMuse

It’s hard not to love a toy store that has strict standards (responsbily-sourced, PCB- and BPA-free) for the toys it stocks. There’s no trace of SpongeBob or other toys based on Saturday-morning cartoons at aMuse. Instead, you’ll find high-tech yet eco-friendly Tegu wooden blocks that are doing their part to repopulate the Honduran forests or cards by Blue Orange Games, whose initiatives offset 96 tons of CO2 while sustaining rural communities in the Amazon. AMuse takes the concept of child’s play to an inspiring new level. 1623 Thames Street, 410-342-5000.

Trunk Shows: Lori K

It’s 100 degrees outside, and the first thing you want to purchase is . . . a sweater? Sure, if you are the type of shopper who actually buys a season ahead to secure your fall stock of comfy Ball of Cotton cardigans. Owner Lori Kilberg, with her impressive retail resume——Saks, Woody’s, Nordstrom——knows the importance of hosting trunks shows several times a year (even during the off months) with the store’s top vendors like Lafayette 148, Zenobia, and Hilton Hollis. That way, you can preview the whole line before it hits stores, hang out with the reps (and sometimes designers), place special orders, and utter those four fabulous words, “I had it first.” 10411 Stevenson Road, Stevenson, 410-580-0081.

Upscale Boutique: Ruth Shaw

Finally, proof that Baltimore has style, and lots of it. There aren’t many women’s boutiques around the country that can make the claim they’ve been recognized by Harper’s Bazaar as a “fashion destination stand-out,” but Ruth Shaw can boast just that. This legendary fashion haven carries some of the most-respected women’s European and American ready-to-wear designers like Isabel Marant, Chris Benz, Piazza Sempione, and Moschino. Sure, you may be able to find some of the same names online or at larger department stores, but this shop has something they don’t——owner Ray Mitchener, who possesses just as much confidence and style as his merchandise. 68 Village Square, 410-532-7886.

Weekend Clothing: Urban Chic

Because the weekend warrior has to juggle a social calendar consisting of everything from BBQs and dates to dinner parties, a closet of both casual and chic is a must. Urban Chic offers a large selection that is easy to navigate (we love the racks-by-color approach), filled with both high and low brands like Joie, Shoshanna, Vince, Obey, and Aryn K. Not to mention two walls of women’s denim (one dedicated to petite sizes), a guy’s corner (tees, jackets, denim, and button-ups), plus affordable shoes and handbags. Is it the weekend yet? 811 Aliceanna Street, 410-685-1601.

Window Display: Trohv

Using everyday objects and a limitless imagination, the windows at home goods, gift, and furniture store Trohv have become an attraction unto themselves. Whether it’s a less-is-more approach (such as their font-dominant holiday 2011 display) or something more ornate (think: 10,000 painted popsicle sticks), team Trohv seizes our curiosity even before we set foot inside the store. 921 W. 36th Street, 410-366-3456.