boston shopping guide

back bay & the south end


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Bobby from Boston

In a city known for its classic attire, this vintage resource has achieved icon status: Its contents could outfit the cast of School Ties many times over. Bobby Garnett has been traveling the world for 30 years, snapping up striped college scarves and boiled wool ski sweaters, which are perfectly arranged in a charmingly retro-clubhouse setting. He recently started sourcing equally timeless womenswear, like '50s cocktail dresses and ladylike heels, too. Those who ask can visit his 5,000-square-foot warehouse, 12 miles north of Boston in Lynn.
19 Thayer St., South End, 617-423-9299

Café Society

This carefully considered vintage clothing store in Brookline focuses on evening-worthy cocktail dresses. Proprietress Betsey Brooks puts pieces from as early as the 1890s out on the floor—though most of the inventory can be traced to the '40s and '50s—and ensures that every one is impeccably preserved. You won't find a single missing button, stain, or ragged hem in the mix.
131 Cypress St., Brookline, 617-738-7186

Dress

Martha Hilfinger and Jane Schlueter have reliably flawless taste: There are no risky style choices on their racks. Instead, their three-year-old spot, awash in blond wood, features only the most flattering picks from a smattering of brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim and Lyell. The duo's on-point judgment has established Dress as the best place in town for foolproof party dresses.
221 Newbury St., Back Bay, 617-424-7125, dressboston.com

Good

While in Boston on a retail consulting job, New Yorker Paul Niski happened upon a FOR RENT sign in a storefront—and he snapped up the lease on the spot. The space, fronted by huge Palladian-style windows, is just that compelling, and Niski has done a good job of ensuring that the gorgeous selection of gifts and jewelry inside measures up. Antique memento mori pendants are set beside old engraved cigarette cases, and beaded Chan Luu necklaces are arranged next to ink drawings from Patch NYC.
88 Charles St., Beacon Hill, 617-722-9200, shopatgood.com

Gretta Luxe

The Gretta Luxe minichain is our favorite of local TV personality Gretchen Monahan's vast endeavors (she also owns spas and salons); Monahan unerringly presents an irresistible array of high-high-end picks from designers like Stella McCartney alongside more affordable names like Adam and Lauren Moffatt. The Copley Square branch wins points for convenience and a gallery-like presentation, but the Wellesley original is bigger and has better sales.
10 Huntington Ave., Back Bay, 617-536-1959; 94 Central St., Wellesley, 781-237-7010

Hudson

Named after Hudson, New York (a former mill town famed both for its prison and its mass of vintage home goods stores), this two-year-old destination is equal parts modern industrial and old-world farmhouse. Owner and interior decorator Jill Goldberg pulls together a masterful mix of block-printed John Robshaw pillows, handcarved bird statues from Oly, and richly patterned Madeline Weinrib rugs.
312 Shawmut Ave., South End, 617-292-0900, hudsonboston.com

Lab

Situated in the student-heavy, slightly gritty neighborhood of Allston, this streetwear shop stocks the requisite collectible vinyl toys (and has a set of turntables in the corner), but you'll also find streamlined tops and jackets that work just as well in a more mainstream wardrobe. Lab is a huge supporter of local artists, so all of the graphic, brightly hued paintings on the walls are for sale.
113 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-395-4330

Lekker Home

For more than five years, Lekker Home has offered the sort of clean-lined housewares that never go out of style. The emphasis here is on European designers (lekker is Dutch for "tasty" or "enticing"), who turn out everything from gold-plated serving spoons to porcelain salt and pepper shakers modeled after mini tin cans.
1317 Washington St., South End, 617-542-6464, lekkerhome.com

Looc

Channeling a French maritime-meets-East Coast prep sensibility (anchors and croquet sets both figure in the decor), this South End retailer manages to be supremely cute and completely elegant at the same time. The neutral-toned goods strike the same refined note: Lerario Beatriz thick cotton tunics and wispy Vanessa Bruno blouses line the racks.
12 Union Park St., South End, 617-357-5333

Louis Boston

Arguably Boston's most famously chic store—host to lush lines like Dries van Noten and Balenciaga—Louis Boston occupies the corner mansion on Newbury Street that used to house the Museum of Natural History. Current owner Debi Greenberg's great-grandfather launched the business in 1929, and people still flock from all over the country for the gigantic sales.
234 Berkeley St., Back Bay, 617-262-6100
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