Photo credit: Nicole Popma

Welcome Addition


Shoe gluttons, rejoice! Where once sat a dark and forgotten saloon now exists a haven of leather and sunwashed nubuck: Boots, pumps, oxfords, mules, belts and handbags all reside in the 11,000-square-foot space. The flagship store boasts a lounge for events and vintage trunk shows along with fit specialists to help customers and personalize boots. With an unrivaled inventory, it’s our one-stop shop for all things footwear.

284 Newbury St., Boston, 617-247-3793,
  • Bargain Hunting

    Nordstrom Rack

    Score those shiny Prada pumps you’ve been dreaming about at a price that’s equally swoon-worthy. Unlike the cluttered, overrun Filene’s Basement (R.I.P.) that formerly occupied the space, here the neatly arranged clothing racks and helpful stylists make bargain hunting a breeze. The massive shoe section puts Vogue’s accessories closet to shame, and on-site tailoring means a perfect fit every time.

    497 Boylston St., Boston, 857-300-2300,
  • Children’s Clothing

    Zara Kids

    With little ones growing like weeds, shelling out $40 for a sequined T-shirt can be hard to swallow. Fret not. The mini chinos, darling tanks and petite summer frocks at Zara Kids will get your brood through summer camp in style. The only drawback? You might find yourself lusting after something in your daughter’s wardrobe. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

    212-214 Newbury St., Boston, 617-236-1414,
  • Fashion Secret

    Bobby From Boston Warehouse in Lynn

    Hollywood costume designers know where to go for vintage clothing and accessories—it’s time you did, too. For 30-plus years Bobby Garnett (the force behind the South End’s Bobby From Boston) has been outfitting starlets and old souls with perfectly worn-in wares. Although most Bostonians are familiar with his Thayer Street location, fewer know about the open-by-appointment vintage repository that lies outside the city in Lynn—a 5,000-square-foot warehouse full of wardrobe treasures that have appeared in more than 40 films, including Casino, Titanic and Men in Black 3.

    545 Washington St., Lynn
  • Madewell
    Photo credit: Dan Watkins



    Searching for the right handbag is sort of like apartment hunting: Craftsmanship and storage capacity are just as important as overall size and style. Enter Madewell. Here you’ll find elegant framed clutches, supple leather satchels, rustic messenger bags and durable beach totes, all of the highest quality materials. Cool summer hues and classic earth tones satisfy glam goddesses and boho-chic chicas alike.

    329 Newbury St., Boston, 617-424-0904,
  • Salmagundi
    Photo Credit: Gretchen Devine



    Think you look silly in hats? Think again. Jamaica Plain’s Salmagundi has a hat for every face, with husband-and-wife team Jessen Fitzpatrick and Andria Rapagnola stocking some 9,000 trilbies, fedoras, stingy brims, Panama hats, bowlers and cloches with custom options. Come for the hands-on staff, who’ll put you through your headwear paces, and stay for the incredible (and incredibly affordable) accessories, bags and scarves. 

    765 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617-522-5047,
  • Intimate Apparel

    Forty Winks

    Ladies know that looking sexy is all about feeling sexy—and that starts with what you wear closest to your skin. For the past three years, this Harvard Square shop has been serving women of all shapes, with an eye on luxury and appreciation for practicality. Intimate items from luxe lingerie lines Eberjey, Chantelle and Cosabella share shelf space with flirty swimsuits, cotton PJs and slinky hosiery. Ooh la la.

    56 JFK St., Cambridge, 617-492-9100,
  • Jeans

    National Jean Company

    If jeans were your religion, National Jean Company would be holy ground. This Newton Centre institution is a shrine to designer denim—all organized and labeled according to brand. The selection is nearly triple that of comparable Newbury Street boutiques, with collections from Citizens of Humanity, Paige, AG and more. Bonus: Easy street parking, and it’s a stone’s throw from the Newton Centre T stop.

    34 Langley Road, Newton, 617-969-2888; additional locations in Boston and Wellesley;  
  • Jewelry, Costume

    So Good

    You love your outfit, but something’s missing. Swing by So Good on your way to the party to find a bauble to match those pumps, whatever color they may be. This basement-level boutique is wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling glitz and glamour—and the selection is unrivaled in town. When it comes to accessories—glittery hairpins, chunky bangles and bold necklaces—So Good offers it all at prices you won’t be able to resist. 

    349 Newbury St., Boston, 617-259-1053
  • Jewelry, Fine

    Joseph Gann Jewelers

    Nowhere in Boston will you find a better collection of vintage diamond engagement rings, wedding bands, gold bracelets and timepieces from classic watchmakers such as Chelsea Clock. An industry leader since 1933, Joseph Gann has been collecting previously owned-and-adored precious-metal pieces and estate jewelry for almost a century—and holds onto them when many jewelers melt them down for cash. “We understand that fashion tends to be cyclical,” says one jeweler. Indeed.

    387 Washington St., Boston, 617-426-4932,
  • Local Designer, Fashion

    Luke Aaron

    This Tufts University grad—who just may be the messiah of drapery—creates wearable collections of dynamic silhouettes with a touch of whimsy. Elegant evening dresses, springy separates, charming summer frocks and airy wedding gowns are all hand-made in America and on view in his North End storefront. In addition to displaying his own unique pieces, Aaron stocks his showroom with vintage accessories for the modern woman who has a taste for opulence. What’s not to love?

    38A Fleet St., Boston, 617-921-4422,
  • Magdalena Stokalska
    Photo Credit: Lara Callahan

    Local Designer, Jewelry

    Magdalena Stokalska

    Magdalena Stokalska’s obsession with fashion and background in art translate into edgy, funky pieces that are as beautiful as they are fun. The Poland-born, Boston-based designer mixes hard and soft materials in her beaded collars, fringe necklaces and friendship bracelets to create geometric, jeweled pieces for the ultimate glam-rocker look.

  • Maternity

    A Pea in the Pod

    The right outfit can be a powerful motivator. So what better way to sail through sonograms, raging hormones and pickle cravings than with maternity wear from A Pea in the Pod? Even Hanneli Mustaparta would approve of this cheeky shop’s jersey-knit maxi dresses, flirty retro shifts, and tailored bi-stretch blazers, which are just a few of the (pleasant) surprises to look forward to during your pregnancy. 

    10 Newbury St., Boston, 617-262-8012,
  • Men’s Clothing, High-End

    Ball and Buck

    If we all spent five percent more on American-made goods, nearly one million new U.S. jobs would be created. This is the philosophy behind Ball and Buck founder Mark Bollman’s collection of domestic menswear. It’s easy to imagine John Wayne perusing the camping gear, craft colognes, plaid oxfords and rugged boots. Want to feel like a real American hero? Settle into the vintage barber’s chair and let Dwayne, B&B’s in-house barber, take care of your grooming needs. Beard trim or hot-towel shave, anyone? 

    144 Newbury St., Boston, 617-262-1776,
  • Gant
    Photo Credit: Gretchen Devine

    Men’s Clothing, Moderate


    This rugged menswear brand’s pre-fall ’13 collection is reason for celebration. Inspired by a little-known group of U.S. soldiers who went AWOL during World War II, Gant takes cues from old distressed uniforms, North African fabrics and period pieces from the Algiers Casbah, where the men sought refuge and eventually became known as “The American Colony.” Durable cotton oxfords, camo-hued button-downs and fresh crewnecks make it a quintessential American menswear shop.

    324 Newbury St., Boston, 617-536-1949,
  • Men’s Shoes

    Allen Edmonds

    Come for the oxfords, wing-tips, loafers and mocs, but stay for the excellent service and stellar shoe-care accessories. Golfers can delight in the Jack Nicklaus all-leather signature collection, which features a sole that promotes stability, water resistance and an X-pattern tread for better traction. Bonus: Tokens & Icons cuff links made from historic Boston sports paraphernalia (including Bruins game-used pucks and Fenway Park seats).

    36 Newbury St., Boston, 617-247-3363,
  • Men’s Suits


    Gentlemen, it’s time to suit up in the timeless sort of formal wear that Jay Gatsby could get behind. Reiss’ three-piece classics are sure to be en vogue even a decade from now. Known for richly textured fabrics, vibrant colors and expert tailoring, this London-based brand is iconicity incarnate.

    132 Newbury St., Boston, 617-262-5800,
  • Party Dresses


    This whimsical Beacon Hill boutique stocks frocks you won’t find at department stores. When she opened her doors 11 years ago, proprietor Jessika Goranson set out to create “a haven of all things pretty.” She has succeeded, with in-demand brands such as Paul & Joe Sister, Lauren Moffatt and Eberjey gracing her shelves. She’s even added her own collection of handmade attire—called Pretty Little Thing, of course, because that’s what you’ll be when you don one of her unique creations for your next soiree. 

    53 Charles St., Boston, 617-973-9730,
  • Bodega
    Photo credit: Dan Watkins



    When you were a kid, you probably dreamed about discovering a secret doorway leading to an alternate universe à la Alice in Wonderland. Consider Bodega your real-life, grown-up fantasy world. At first glance, the place looks like the set from Clerks, but head back to grab a Snapple and enter the secret world of hip streetwear that lies beyond a hidden passageway. Limited-edition footwear, Original Fake T-shirts and retro Nike jackets are a few of the surprises that await. 

    6 Clearway St., Boston,
  • Thrift Store

    The Garment District

    Where else can you dig through an endless pile of gently worn skirts, pants, tops and dresses and then buy the buried treasure by the pound? If that image gives you the creeps, don’t despair. Best known for its vast thrift section and Halloween offerings, this Cambridge warehouse also houses of-the-moment items and brand-new apparel. With pants prices starting below $10, this place could make Macklemore weak in the knees. 

    200 Broadway, Cambridge, 617-876-5230,
  • Trend

    Mobile Boutiques

    Food trucks aren’t the only mobile businesses taking over Boston’s plazas. The past year has seen fashion trucks cropping up across town, including Dewey Square, Newbury Street and SoWa Open Market. Favorites include Haberdash Vintage and the Fashion Truck, and dudes and dames alike will revel in newcomer ARTichoke’s “casual-chic” wares and local artwork. This summer you can sit back, relax and let the shopping come to you.

  • Vintage


    Some people are born with class; others have to buy it. Either way, the duds that’ll do you right are at Artifaktori, where owner Amy Berkowitz has been collecting an enchanting mix of awesome vintage finds that date as far back as the 1920s. Amid the killer clothes and one-of-a-kind shoes, you’re sure to find some rarities. 

    121 Charles St., Boston, 617-367-5854,
  • Riccardi Boston
    Photo Credit: Nicole Popma

    Women's Clothing, High-End

    Riccardi Boston

    Riccardi Storefronts on Newbury Street can come and go as fast as the trends they carry. But unlike jeggings, ponchos and popped collars, Boston’s Riccardi has enjoyed 34 years of enduring style—and there’s no end in sight. This bastion of high-end fashion has lived on the same block since 1978, when founder and Florentine Riccardo Dallai set out to bring top-shelf clothing to our city. Since then, it’s been a mainstay for designers like Givenchy, Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garçons, and Rodarte—a one-stop shop for garments and accessories as timeless as the boutique itself.

    116 Newbury St., Boston » 617-266-3158 »
  • Women’s Clothing, High-End


    A destination in itself, Louis’ internationally recognized waterfront emporium stocks stunning clothing and sophisticated wares from around the world. Accessories from Victoria Beckham, Moritz Glick and Proenza Schouler are not to be missed, and the same goes for the vistas from the wraparound deck. Sure, these clothes cost a pretty penny, but you’ll look like a million bucks. 

    60 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-262-6100,
  • Crush Boutique
    Photo Credit: Gretchen Devine

    Women’s Clothing, Moderate

    Crush Boutique

    Whether on the hunt for that cool-blue summer jumper you saw in Lucky or a sophisticated strappy number to wear on the town, you’ll be poppin’ tags in style at Crush Boutique. Here, labels such as Rory Beca and Yumi Kim dance alongside longtime staples Free People, J. Brand and BCBGeneration. Smiling salespeople act as personal shoppers, and middle-of-the-road price points ensure a happy wallet.

    131 Charles St., Boston, 617-720-0010; 264 Newbury St., Boston, 617-424-0010;
  • Women’s Shoes

    Saks Fifth Avenue

    This city is made for walking, and if your boots aren’t, it’s time to kick them to the curb. With the shoe department at Saks, there’s no reason to sacrifice your soles. The displays feature a parade of foot candy from Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, and the smoking slippers from Tory Burch and wedge booties from Stuart Weitzman promise to get you through the elements with comfort and ease. 

    800 Boylston St., Boston, 617-262-8500,
  • Worst Trend

    Cropped T-shirts

    Some things are better off dead. Take, for example, the ’80s and its cropped T-shirt trend. We’ve all seen the offenders prancing around in leggings, with a KISS logo or leopard plastered across a barely-there T-shirt. Contrary to what the look suggests, these are not nostalgic soccer moms headed to dancercise, but confused slaves to every trend. Where is the sophistication? The creativity? And will someone please explain the appeal of looking like Alex Owens in Flashdance?

Follow The Improper

Nominate Your Favorite Bartender, Bachelor/ette or Stylish Bostonian.

Unrequited crush? Bad hair? Send us your messages of love and spleen. They might appear in The Improper Bostonian.