With its verdant forests and the rugged Cascade Mountains as a backdrop, the Seattle area enjoys some of the best outdoor activities around. But off the hiking trail, it’s not all Gore-Tex gear and Teva sandals. There’s a local style scene known for its friendly customer service and independent fashion boutiques. Here are seven of our Seattle favorites.
The hybrid Queen Anne home/clothing shop Meadow has a sweet vibe about it. There are charming white ceramic dimpled vases, retro-style crystal cake stands, and a wardrobe to live out your Mad Men-meets-French countryside dream. Recent spring arrivals include an orange floral-print day dress, lace-trimmed dove gray tank, and a polka-dot knee-length red frock, styled with a beige wrap belt.
Insider Tip: The prices are reasonable (ranging from $100 to $200 per item) and the store is a great go-to for finding that picnic-friendly, fit-and-flare sundress.
Buy It: MeadowBoutique.blogspot.com; 1659 6th Avenue West; 206-659-4963
If you’re into the prairie girl-meets-modern boho aesthetic (e.g. Nicole Richie), then Horseshoe is a must-stop shop. Proprietor and Denver native Jill Andersen first gathered a local following when the store was situated in Fremont; it soon outgrew its digs and relocated to the hip and lively Ballard neighborhood. Like Seattle, the selection is casual, but ramped up in a low-key way with some interesting knits by Qi and an array of smaller brands. There’s also a nod to Americana-inspired pieces, which include Navajo-style prints and plenty of denim.
Insider Tip: The dresses are the highlight here and range from floaty printed minis to sweeping maxi dresses by the likes of Rory Beca and Velvet. There’s plenty to browse through in the $200 range.
Buy It: ShopHorseshoe.com; 5344 Ballard Avenue NW; 206-547-9639
Just north of downtown Seattle is Fremont, a once funky area with a fierce independent streak. The neighborhood has since seen an influx of tech yuppies, but there’s still a walkable central area with bars, restaurants, and shops. For something more polished than the usual Seattle dress code, try Merge. Owner Patricia Wolfkill has carved out a look that would fit easily in downtown NYC—expect clean lines, thoughtful design, and plenty of black-and-white pieces.
Insider Tip: Prices can quickly skew upwards so be sure to keep an eye on price tags. For jewelry fanatics, there’s a wonderful selection of unique baubles by tough-to-find designers.
Buy It: MergeBoutique.com; 611 N. 35th Street; 206-782-5335
4. Show Pony
Another Fremont contender, the cozy Show Pony boutique carries local designers (Prairie Underground) and other indie West Coast labels, such as the Laguna Beach-based B.B. Dakota and the San Francisco line Rebecca Beeson. There’s also an edited selection of consignment goodies.
Insider Tip: Check out the beauty and gifts section for uncommon perfumes and candles.
Buy It: ShowPonySeattle.com; 702 N. 35th Street; 206-706-4188
This fashion-forward shop isn’t pandering to the local polar fleece-loving population. Instead, Totokaelo has fully embraced a roster of international fashion designers from Paris, Copenhagen, and New York City. You’ll find up-and-coming brands—and not the obvious ones found in department stores—that would usually only be stocked in larger shopping markets like Los Angeles or NYC.
Insider Tip: This is a world-class boutique shopping, which means an on-trend selection, but at accordingly steeper prices. Shoes are the goldmine, featuring oxfords by Robert Clergerie, loafers by Dieppa Restrepo, and wedge sandals by Ann Demeulemeester.
Buy It: Totokaelo.com; 913 Western Avenue; 206-623-3582
6. The Clothing Company
On first impression, this nondescript Pioneer Square shop isn’t much to look at, but step inside and be prepared for some serious steals. The store specializes in discounted designer goods like Seven for All Mankind Jeans, tagged at $70 on last inspection. Though you’ll still need to hunt for the best pieces and there are limited sizes, The Clothing Company is a lot more organized and shopper-friendly than your usual big-box discount store.
Insider Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the fun assortment of Lucite and Bakelite jewelry; just note that stock turns over quickly, so no two visits will be quite the same.
Buy It: TheClothingCompanySeattle.com; 87 Yesler Way; 206-682-6900
If you’re of the mindset that shopping should have a conscience, then head to the quaint Juniper boutique in Madrona. You won’t find many tourists in this neighborhood, located on the quiet back side of Capitol Hill, but the posh residents have supported the eco-friendly mission of retailer Lisa Clinton. Along with giving lines like Organic by John Patrick, The Podolls, and Good Society rack space, Clinton also fosters a cat from the Seattle animal shelter at the store.
Insider Tip: There’s a strong mix of casual pieces, but you won’t find much cocktail attire here.
Buy It: JuniperInMadrona.com; 3314 E. Spring Street; 206-838-7496
Thinking of a trip to Seattle?
For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, plus the best planning advice, check out our online Seattle Travel Guide.
Photo Credit: courtesy Merge