Seattleites are sometimes scorned for their fashion sense (polar fleece, sport sandals, and socks—oh my!), but as the city has grown and enough money has percolated through the ranks of retail, the city's style barometer has made a steady creep upward. Bibliophiles, foodies, wine aficionados, and design-centrists will also find plenty of shopping opportunities—Seattle is a hotbed of unique, independent shops stocking one-of-a-kind treasures.

Shopping in Seattle is something best done gradually. Don't expect to find it all in one or two days worth of blitz shopping tours. Downtown is the only area that allows for easy daylong shopping excursions. Within a few blocks along 4th and 5th Avenues, you'll find the standard chains (The Gap, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Anthropologie, Sephora, Old Navy), along with Nike's flagship store, and a few more glamorous high-end stores, some featuring well-known designers like Gucci . Downtown is also where you'll find department stores like Nordstrom, Macy's, and Barneys New York. Belltown and Pioneer Square are also easy areas to patrol—most stores of note are within a few blocks.

To find many of the stores that are truly special to Seattle—such as boutiques featuring handmade frocks from local designers, independent record stores run by encyclopedic-minded music geeks, cozy used-book shops that smell of paper and worn wood shelves—you'll have to branch out to Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, and northern neighborhoods like Ballard. Shopping these areas will give you a better feel for the character of the city and its quirky inhabitants, all while you score that new dress or nab gifts for your friends.

And don’t forget about Seattle’s culinary bounty, which includes the stalls at Pike Place Market; the flagship Sur La Table, which stocks every kitchen gadget known to man; and the city’s various weekly farmers' markets, where you’ll find enough locally made, artisanal offerings to fill a suitcase or two.

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  • 1. Atlas Clothing

    Fremont | Clothing

    Atlas is loaded with previously appreciated shirts, jackets, and tees; stacks of new and vintage denim; must-have sneakers from the '70s and...Read More

  • 2. Burnt Sugar

    Fremont | Household Items/Furniture

    If there's a rocket on the roof, then you've found Burnt Sugar—or you've gone too far and are in Cape Canaveral. This hip and funky shop offers...Read More

  • 3. Dusty Strings

    Fremont | Music Stores

    A Seattle institution since 1979, Dusty Strings has long been delighting folk and roots music lovers with beautifully crafted hammered dulcimers...Read More

  • 4. Essenza

    Fremont | Household Items/Furniture

    A gurgling stone fountain stands in the center of this light-filled boutique, where airy displays showcase delicately scented European bath...Read More

  • 5. Fremont Vintage Mall

    Fremont | Antiques/Collectibles

    Goods from about 25 vendors are crammed into every conceivable corner of this bi-level space, so you'll likely score at least something to take...Read More

  • 6. Les Amis

    Fremont | Clothing

    Women whose sartorial leanings go beyond low-rise jeans will adore the sophisticated dresses, gorgeous handknits, and the makings of great work...Read More

  • 7. Ophelia's Books

    Fremont | Books/Stationery

    With a tiny spiral staircase leading to the basement, and resident cats wandering through the tightly packed aisles, Ophelia's offers a classic...Read More

  • 8. Show Pony

    Fremont | Clothing

    With a mix of new, used, and locally designed clothing, Show Pony is a great spot to grab reasonably priced girly frocks and fabulous accessories...Read More

  • 9. Bitters Co.

    Fremont | Household Items/Furniture

    Filled with treasures from around the world, this store carries textiles, linens, tableware, and jewelry. There are handcrafted goods from Guatemala...Read More

  • 10. Deluxe Junk

    Fremont | Antiques/Collectibles

    Looking like an old Hollywood movie prop shop, this labyrinth of vintage furniture, retro cameras, turn-of-the-century photos, and racks of...Read More

  • 11. Frank & Dunya

    Fremont | Household Items/Furniture

    For cute, locally crafted art, head to Frank & Dunya. Functional gift items range from hand-painted switch-plate covers and elaborate nightlights...Read More

  • 12. Lambs Ear Shoes

    Fremont | Shoes/Luggage/Leather Goods

    A small but fabulous collection of shoes and handbags line the whitewashed concrete walls of this high-end shoe store. With artisan offerings...Read More

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