milan

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a.o.c.

The abbreviation stands for African Oriental Craft, and for the past 20 years this off-the-beaten-path, dust-filled duo of stores, located across the street from one another, has been stocking huge volumes of jewelry, home decor, and clothing from points such as Fez, Jaipur, and Jakarta. The inventory is so exhaustive you'll want to allow yourself a good two hours for browsing.

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corso como

It's safe to say that this is the best-known store in Milan. The owner, Carla Sozzani, is the sister of the head of Italian Vogue, and its impressive space houses a cafe, boutique, art-and-fashion bookstore, and gallery. We admired the clothes by everyone from Balenciaga to Marc Jacobs, then snapped up an affordable canvas Corso Como tote bag created by Comme des Garcon designer Rei Kawakubo.

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la vetrina di beryl

Fashionable Milanese women often cite this footwear store (with an adjacent clothing boutique) as a favorite place to pick up sexy pumps, boots, and sandals. We spotted great choices from Costume National, Marc Jacobs, L'Autre Chose, and Miu Miu.

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Madina

This Milan-based company specializes in sleekly packaged, vibrantly colorful cosmetics. While there, pick up one of the nail lacquers (which come in more than 50 colors).

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naj-oleari

With a feel that's somehow more French than Italian, this casuals and beachwear shop stocks items to create the perfect weekend-on-the-Riviera wardrobe. Good picks: Syrian leather sandals in a rainbow of colors and tons of cute tees and beachwear for $75 and under.

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penelopi 3

This superorganized shop is loaded with mod necessities for home and garden, such as hefty woven baskets and a perfect polka-dot shower curtain.

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banner

When you want to load up on luxury goods but don't have time to visit each designer boutique, head to this shop. It offers an edited selection of the best European designers have to offer: handbags from Hogan, shoes by John Galliano, and tops by Pucci, to name a few. Think of it as one-stop shopping when you're on a tight schedule.

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sermoneta

This boutique sells supersupple, high-quality leather gloves in every color of the rainbow-and at amazingly low prices. Choose a silk lining and the gloves cost around $30; a cashmere lining brings the price up a few extra dollars. We went home with a $28 pair of fingerless driving gloves.

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limoni best

Milan is loaded with "profumerio" shops that sell brand-name cosmetics and fragrances. This chain is the best, offering such items as Lolita Lempicka eau de toilette and Perlier shower gels for far less than you'd pay in the States. Don't miss the section of inexpensive Italian mass-market grooming products, like Marvis toothpaste and Labello Rose lip balm.

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Patrizia Pepe

Italians love this Florence-based designer for her ability to produce high-quality, trend-nailing garments-at fair prices. We found great-fitting wide-leg trousers for $120, terrific band-leather-style denim jackets for about $150, and crisp blouses starting at $65.

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