Cheeky Vintage

Image: Todd Spoth

Á Bientôt

Never let it be said that the grand dames of River Oaks don’t like a good deal. Hence Betty Newton and Cristiana Anderson's impressive two-story space, where chic costume jewelry abounds along with lots of fun paper goods and myriad impulse purchases among the cashmere sweaters and party dresses.

Abejas

Stylishly casual neutrals—you know, the clothes It Girls run errands in on their days off—are what it’s all about here. Owner Christina Mitchell imparts her own uptown bohemian bent to gauzy linen tops, premium jeans, breezy tank dresses, statement jewelry made from rough beads and antlers, and more.

Atrium Ready to Wear

Having already mastered the art of matching Houston brides with couture wedding gowns at Casa de Novia, in 2011 Luvi Wheelock opened this shop next door, stocking cocktail dresses and eveningwear from avant-garde designers like Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Viktor & Rolf, and Yigal Azrouël in an appropriately minimalist space.

Baanou

Selena once said that in her family of musicians, the only way one could rebel was to become a doctor. (Okay, maybe it was Jennifer Lopez, but the point remains.) Maryam Afshari, whose family has owned A. Taghi for three generations, bucked tradition for seven years as an accountant before opening this shop in a cozy converted house along the Shepherd curve, stocking it with sophisticated, youthful dresses and separates, including plenty of pieces by her cousin, local designer Amir Taghi.

Brooke Feather

Truth: Brooke Feather herself would rather be in Laguna Beach, where she fell in love with the West Coast’s casual yet chic mode of dressing. But for the moment, she’s committed to importing that look to Houston, stocking her eponymous boutique with relaxed and comfortable pieces with edgy details: metallic clutches, leather dresses, premium denim, and a dozen iterations of the perfect tee. Her motto is helpfully displayed in neon above the store’s bar cart: “Forget the rules / If you like it wear it.”

Cakewalk Style Shop

As the name implies, finding a sweet little dress or jumpsuit in this delightfully girly shop is almost too easy. Not only does the store carry on-trend pieces by accessible designer labels like Current/Elliott, Vince, DVF, and Tibi, it regularly features appearances by designing celebs such as Petra Nemcova, Kelly Bensimon, and more. Don’t forget to check out co-owner Gina Cartwright’s jewelry line, Charmed Circle.

Cheeky Vintage

Popping into this bungalow on Richmond is like rifling through your glamorous aunt’s closet, if auntie wore vibrant Pucci-inspired prints, chunky gold jewelry, and ladylike square purses, that is. Big labels like Cartier and Oscar de la Renta can be found here, but the shop, true to its name, is best for unique finds with retro flair.

Chloe Dao

If Chloe Dao’s immense popularity in Houston sprang solely from her winning turn on Project Runway’s second season, her fame surely would have waned by now. Not so. Her Rice Village boutique just keeps getting bigger and better. These days, it’s one of the best places to find the perfect party dress, whether from Dao’s own line or one of the curated collections on offer.

Cotton Club

As one might expect, this stalwart is strong on wearable essentials, from jeans to shirts to scarves, but it’s also a hub for fine jewelry, stocking pieces by Pamela Froman and Todd Reed, among others, that aren’t afraid to bring the bling. Bonus: it’s the only store in Houston to sell androgynous French line Lilith in its own mini-shop.

David Peck

2014 was a banner year for this homegrown design talent. Not only did Peck nab a commission designing the natty employee uniforms for the new JW Marriott Downtown, he also debuted a stunning new Montrose factory space and showroom, one just industrial enough to make his high-style dresses the center of attention.

Dimensions

For 40 years, this has been the Memorial Villages’ version of the little boutique around the corner—albeit stretched to Texas-sized proportions. A blend of contemporary and classic brands like Bailey 44, Kendra Scott, Wildfox, DL1961, and Ecru means there’s really no need to look (or drive) further.

Elaine Turner

Who among us doesn’t own a Bella clutch or cork-wedge heels? What started as a sweet little accessories shop in Rice Village has now become a major name in shoe and handbag markets far beyond Houston, with Turner recently opening her first New York storefront. Here in town, meanwhile, the label carries as much weight (and infinitely more local cred) as Tory Burch or Kate Spade.

Elizabeth Anthony

Not unlike some of the ladies one sees in Uptown Park, this shop recently had a little work done. Owner Julie Phillips Roberts filled her expanded boutique with ready-to-wear lines from Roland Mouret, Alberta Ferretti, Pamella Roland, and Rena Lange, even as she added a fine-jewelry section. Upstairs, there’s even more room for the glittering gowns that have made this store one of the best in town for upscale eveningwear.

Laboratoria

Image: Todd Spoth

French Cuff

The team here clearly loves everything they sell—employees post outfit ideas and styling tips on Facebook and Instagram almost every day—and their enthusiasm is infectious. With plenty of pieces from brands like Seychelles, Bailey 44, and Equipment priced under $100, what’s not to like?

Julie Rhodes Fashion & Home

A former trend forecaster in New York, owner Julie Rhodes O’Neal has a great eye for items that polished West U moms want to wear, scouting up-and-coming designers around the globe and displaying their wares alongside a curated collection of jewelry, home accessories, paper, and apothecary goods. O’Neal also offers personal ordering services for clients who shop seasonally and don’t want to wait for collections to hit the store.

Katia

It’s been nearly three decades since owner Denise Lucia opened her boutique with nothing but $1,000 and a gift for putting the perfect outfit together. Today, along with daughter Katie—who inherited her killer sense of style—she offers a perfectly calibrated sartorial mix, stocking sophisticated French designers and casual West Coast brands.

La Mode Lingerie

While the sexiest thing on a woman may be her smile, wherefore the smile? From knowing she’s rocking pretty little things underneath her clothes, perhaps? This shop’s luxurious underthings range from girly to flirty to look out, courtesy French brands such as Chantal Thomass, I.D. Sarrieri, Lise Charmel, Simone Perele, and Kiki de Montparnasse.

Laboratoria

Owner Tatiana Massey, originally from Russia, has opened Houston’s most ambitious boutique to date, stocking it with buzzy, under-the-radar European designers like Rochas, Viktor & Rolf, Public School, and No. 21, for women who have bank accounts as big as their fashion dreams.

Leap

Owner Susan Claffy hasn’t been afraid to take risks with her boutique (it’s called Leap, after all). First, she moved it from the bustling Rice Village area to the more under-the-radar Hollywood Squares shopping center in 2014, and now she’s bet the farm on minimalism, stocking designers from Brooklyn and Europe who focus on form, quality, and a luxuriously modern, understated look.

Mighty Aphrodity

There is no hotter trend in fashion than ‘athleisure,’ the fancy word for wearing your yoga pants around like you just came from barre class. Valerie Horwitz’s store is the first in the city to focus on high-end fitness apparel beyond Lululemon, stocking the chicest spandex from Onzie, Koral, and Alala, and the slouchy tees and sandals we love to pair with them. Yoga, here we come. Maybe.

Mio Boutique

Only in Houston can you witness the delicious juxtaposition of a high-fashion boutique and a Raising Cane’s chicken joint at the same intersection. Luckily, owner Claudia Ayala doesn’t seem to take her fashion too seriously, letting clothes and accessories from up-and-coming designers hold their own in a gloriously undone space. Looking for the new Montrose? This is it.

Myth & Symbol

An unintended consequence of the rise of West Ave and the expansion of Highland Village has been the migration of big-name retailers away from Rice Village, clearing the way for an explosion of local boutiques like this one. Proving that style is anything but shallow, this store rounds up arty, design-focused fashions, jewelry, accessories, apothecary items, and home goods, all sourced from independent makers with an eye to sustainability.

Settlement Goods & Design

Imagine a shop that’s more like an art gallery, with placards next to each product touting not only its background and point of origin, but the story and meaning behind it. That’s the kind of meaningful conversation taking place at this store, which offers men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, jewelry, home decor, and apothecary products, all made in America by emerging and independent designers. That thoughtfulness carries over into the store’s gorgeously spare two-story space, too.

Sloan/Hall

This River Oaks staple from owners Marcus Sloan and Shannon Hall has the spare, white look of an art gallery—fitting, since most of the wares are on the level of wearable art. Cutting-edge labels like Peter Pilotto, Isabel Marant, Maison Martin Margiela, Kenzo, and Christopher Kane dominate, complemented by a mixture of edgy jewelry, design books, and apothecary offerings such as the Houston-based Drunk Elephant skincare line.

Tootsies

If you still require proof that atmosphere creates attitude, look no further than this legendary classic, fresher than ever after a move from Highland Village to West Ave in 2011. The modern, light-infused space seems to have inspired owner Mickey Rosmarin to seek out cutting-edge lines like Rag & Bone, Elizabeth & James, and Peter Pilotto, alongside luxury stalwarts including Valentino, Diane von Furstenberg, and Oscar de la Renta.

Top Drawer Lingerie

This shop—confirming that there’s more to the world of underwear than Victoria’s Secret angels draped sexily around empty castles—has served as a gateway to better bras, panties, and shapewear for a generation of Houston women. Pieces from Simone Perele, Prima Donna, Chantelle, Yummie, Le Mystere, and more come stocked in a huge range of sizes.

WildBloom

Owners Thuy and Tuyet Pham have a little bit of Goldilocks in them, focusing on styles that are not too preppy, too casual, too teen-oriented, too mature, or—best of all—too expensive. What’s left in the middle? Flirty dresses, structured separates, elevated basics, and statement costume jewelry, much of it under $100.

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