New clothing boutique
Couture At night, we dream of magically transporting the entire contents of Couture — with its Cynthia Steffe sundresses and Robert Rodriguez shifts and skinny white Habitual jeans — to our closets. The only thing more fun than dreaming about this place — with its impeccably edited collection and L.A.chic space (pressed-tin ceiling, dainty mini chandeliers, black-and-white upholstered dressing room ottomans) — is waking up to shop at it. 4319 Main Street, Manayunk, 215-483-1946; couturephillyonline.com.
Best of France Literally a barn full of grand antique furniture, Best of France is a faster trip to the Puces market in Paris: There are $1,400 black marble urns, an $18,500 hand-carved white marble mantel, $3,500 Art Deco crystal sconces — plus dozens of armoires, writing desks, and every other kind of Frenchy furniture. 3686 Route 202, Mechanicsville, 215-345-4253; bestoffranceantiques.com.
Trendy beauty treatment
Eyelash extensions at Adolf Biecker As soon as we read in Vogue that the cool girls in New York and L.A. are getting these individually glued-on extensions, we ran to Biecker’s Gabrielle Fazio. The adorable aesthetician gave us a Jessica Alba-esque set of lashes — they last up to a month — during our lunch break. $300; 210 West Rittenhouse Square, 215-735-6404; adolfbiecker.com.
Mary Clark When Vagabond co-owner Mary Clark describes one of her hand-knit sweaters as “the one in Lucky,” she blushes modestly. Same when she tells you she’s filling an order for Barneys. Or Fred Segal. Or Steven Alan. Still, we locals get first crack at her newest, coolest creations for fall and winter: mod pullovers, ’50s-inspired V-necks, and chunky cardigans in uneven-weight yarn — all on the StellaPop label, named for Clark’s three-year-old, Stella.
37 North 3rd Street, 267-671-0737; vagabondboutique.com.
New day spa
Nurture Spa We thought our husbands felt more comfortable at Nurture than any other spa because of its minimalist, mod design. Then it was our turn to go, and we melted at first touch: Facials are pampering and productive. (We love the extra attention they pay to our feet and eyes.) Massages are as thorough as they come. And owner Carolyn Holdsworth, a New York import, is a slave to service and attention: Guests even get handwritten thank-you notes! 415 South York Road, New Hope, 215-862-7010; nurturespa.com.
Custom shirts, women
Van Aken Custom This isn’t your stodgy come-to-my-law-firm-and-monogram-it custom shirt. This is the stylish, savvy, wear-with-skinny-jeans kind, one that oozes class and works at the law firm, too. Van Aken’s year-old line quickly earned buzz for its marriage of cool and quality. With a gathering storm of national press and a coming debut of ready-to-wear camisoles by body type (brilliant), we’ll be buying our made-to-order while it’s still relatively reasonable: $110 to $185. 1700 Sansom Street, 215-496-0408; vanakencustom.com.
Custom shirts, men
Barton + Donaldson Imitators and wannabes have come and gone, but only B+D gives Savile Row a run for its money with its expertly crafted, discreetly monogrammed, custom-fit dress shirts in Italian broadcloth, impeccable cotton and more. 1635 Chancellor Street; 215-546-2324.
Outdoor furnishing bargains
Patio.com This showroom across from the King of Prussia mall has cushioned teak recliners, cast-aluminum tables, even grills and planters — for those who decorate cool-comfy, à la Domino magazine. 125 North Gulph Road, King of Prussia, 610-205-0970; patio.com.
Bathing suits that fit — and flatter
Abbe’s Place Bathing suit shopping will always be about as much fun as a Pap smear. But when Abbe Cheskin tells you to “drop your top and hold your breasts,” rest assured you’re in good hands (literally). First she’ll size you up; then she’ll mix-and-match sizes in tops and bottoms for your body. It’s your job to put on a disposable G-string and slip into the suit of her choice before she comes into the dressing room and shows you the right way to tie, tuck, button, or zip anything from girlie Shoshanna string bikinis to chic Lisa Curran sets. 4355 Main Street, Manayunk; 215-487-2332.
Waterloo Gardens The most bodacious hydrangeas and peonies and every other fabulous shrub, tree and flower, plus thousands of the best planters, from terra-cotta to glazed Asian pottery, that make us want to get down and dirty. 136 Lancaster Avenue, Devon, 610-293-0800; 200 North Whitford Road, Exton, 610-363-0800; waterloogardens.com.
Waiting-list cut and color
Head Area The tiny black-and-red salon in the back of — where else? — Matthew Izzo Lifestyle could feel like a members-only, or maybe a celebrities-only, club, what with its two-month waiting list and its hair-by-hair obsession with getting your mop just right. But despite its preference for pre-appointment consultations, Head Area defies all snobby stylist stereotypes, simply by being way laid-back and thoroughly, absolutely, contemporary. 1109 Walnut Street, 215-829-0699; headarea.com.
Headhouse books This elegant, intimate bookseller feels like a long-standing Society Hill fixture, a right proper source for everything from James Joyce to Curious George, with children’s story hours and book signings by neighbors such as Jennifer Weiner. 619 South 2nd Street, 215-923-9525; headhousebooks.com.
All-natural hair care
JuJu Salon & Organics This cozy, eco-friendly Fabric Row salon uses only good-for-your-body, good-for-the-planet and especially good-for-your-tresses products. Owner Julie Ebner expertly applies amazing, ammonia-free hair color. And just as awesome are Juju’s products to go: John Masters Organics scalp-strengthening shampoos and oils, MOP’s moisturizing conditioners, and Nature Girl’s richly scented botanical lotions. 716 South 4th Street, 215-238-6080; jujusalon.com.
Chic, affordable furniture
Host Chestnut Hill’s newest shelter boutique is a welcome addition to the Avenue. The main attraction is the LEE line of upholstered furniture — a notch above Crate & Barrel, yet, surprisingly, more affordable — that can be customized in more than 500 fabrics and 60 different leathers. The Paris club chair looks stately in distressed chocolate hide ($1,759), and the sleek dining chairs start at $379. Custom-made Shaker-style sideboards, Italian pewter tabletop items by Match and custom rugs by Merida round out the inviting mix. 7946 Germantown Avenue, 215-967-1196; hostinteriors.com.
Nives Riddles We realize we’re obsessed with Rescue Rittenhouse Spa, but we can’t help it: Owner Danuta Mieloch continues to recruit talented staffers and introduce the kind of ambitious services we can’t get enough of. This year we trusted our precious mugs to Nives Riddles, who showed us what a long way makeup application has come since our days at the Clinique counter. She covers our flaws and highlights features we didn’t even know were hiding, and she does it all while offering tips we actually can take with us — because though we’ve tried, we can’t make her come over every morning before work. 255 South 17th Street, mezzanine, 215-772-2766, rescuerittenhousespa.com; 856-217-7457, nivesriddles.com.
2 B Groomed Barbering Studio 2 B’s genteel and exacting owner, Jahmal Rhaney, says his two-chair shop will do “anything you need done with any hair on your body.” What he means is that you won’t walk out with embarrassing nose and ear hairs protruding. And if you’re game for a straight-razor shave
or body waxing, he does that, too. 270 South 11th Street; 215-925-3505.
Plain Jane We can’t stop OMG-ing everything at this less-than-year-old boutique, where owners Annie Moretti and Michelle Robins constantly evolve their stock of beauty everything, mingling the trendy with the tried-and-true. Find Bond No. 9 scents, Fresh face wash, Bumble and Bumble hair care, and more than 100 shades of Scarlet cosmetics. 128 East Gay Street, West Chester, 610-918-0230; plainjaneboutique.com.
Fleur Note to Philly men everywhere: Once a week, send or bring her an arrangement from Fleur. (We love its bold exotic arrangements, in purples and greens we haven’t seen anywhere else.) When the nookie starts pouring in, call 215-564-7700 to thank us. 1216 Locust Street; 4254 Main Street, Manayunk; 215-772-2777; fleurflowers.com.
Custom workout program
optimal wellness Two things we know about ourselves: We’re lazy — and we’re egomaniacal. Which may explain why O.W.’s custom-made workout program appeals to us so much. First we got to be the center of attention while undergoing a high-tech version of high-school phys ed tests; then we got a dossier analyzing the shape we’re in and offering up exercises and nutrition plans for sticking to our goals. Months after our assessment, we’re still following the program on our own. 201 South Camac Street, 215-639-9960; optimalwellnessonline.com.
Artemide The Italian designs at this Old City showroom are so clean and simple — the signature Tizio and Tolomeo desk lamps, the whimsical Murano glass, the octopus-like Gaia suspension lamp — that they work equally well in modern and traditional settings. 232 North 2nd Street, 215-733-9877; artemide.us.
Socially conscious store
Satya Do more than buy local food and take out the recyclables. Shop at Satya, where stylish clothing and accessories are organic, nontoxic, and created in fair trade. Bamboo-and-cotton tanks from Delano, short and sweet cap-sleeve wrap dresses from Passenger Pigeon, cotton button-downs from Boll, and twill slacks for him from Hempest are totally on-trend. 701 South 9th Street, 215-627-3440; satyaboutique.com.
Non-surgical wrinkle remover
Fraxel at Lumen Laser Center This super-sleek new Main Line laser spot offers treatments with the dewrinkling, firming, make-me-look-as-young-as-Kate-Bosworth Fraxel laser machine. A session takes about two hours, and skin is pink for only a day or two; the results are luminescent and last for months. $1,500; 919 Conestoga Road, Bryn Mawr, 610-525-0606; lumen-lasercenter.com.
PTK Oriental Rug Center This Bryn Mawr showroom’s sweet deals make it possible for you to own that comely Aubusson. And while PTK could carpet all of the Main Line with its sweeping selection of rugs that can be customized in Pakistan, Turkey, Nepal and Tibet, trade-ins and restoration are available, too. 574 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr, 610-525-0333; 1888 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, 856-424-8845; ptkrugs.com.
Malena’s It’s the best of all worlds: good-condition finds from high-end designers, well-edited selections from no-names, and new clothes that look vintage. Racks hold treasures like silk ’40s slips, ’60s shift dresses, scarves by Oscar de la Renta and Dior, and summer-perfect wicker bags. Plus, Malena Martinez is always around to offer her expert fit tips. 145 West Gay Street, West Chester, 610-738-9952; malenasboutique.com.
Garden Accents Massive ceramic planters and Richard Schultz benches make Garden Accents a must-stop for anyone serious about outdoor style. But what we love even more than the collection is the view of the city and beyond from Garden Accents’ hilltop location; for a moment, you can pretend you’re in Napa — not, sigh, West Conshohocken. 4 Union Hill Road, West Conshohocken, 610-825-5525; gardenaccents.com.
American mortals There are no race-car-shaped barber’s chairs at Kimberly and David Bond’s indie-rocker-ish salon. There are, however, Boogaboos — squeaky and soft salon mascots whose mantra is, “You be you, Boogaboo.” There are Boogaboos to cuddle, Boogaboos to read about (in a funky picture book), and wallpapered Boogaboos that turn a first haircut into a friendlier, cooler experience — for little ones and grown-ups. From $35; 729 Walnut Street, 215-574-1234; americanmortals.com.
Area Studies have shown that it’s virtually impossible to leave this clean-lined store in a chic white townhouse in Lambertville without picking up at least a few things — maybe the double-wide version of a wing chair (very Lindsay-Lohan-at-a-boutique-hotel; $1,950), or a $125 set of mirrored balls on pedestals for your mantel, or the perfect side table — a white Vetson piece that looks like a mini-Saarinen, for a mere $325. 51 Bridge Street, Lambertville, 609-397-6660; areaandco.com.
Brandow clinic Svetlana Taggart at the Ritz-Carlton-esque Brandow Clinic and Medical Day Spa customizes the right mix of microdermabrasion and glycolic peel to delicately lay waste to fine lines and clogged pores, for a dewy result. Next stop — Brandow’s laser treatments! $125; 100 Presidential Boulevard North, Bala Cynwyd, 610-617-7949; brandowclinic.com.
Ali Tepper Follow her anywhere, like we did when she moved to the spa at the Phoenix last year. Groupies are loyal because of her honesty about your best skin treatments, even if it means a cheaper service. Her dermatologist-like understanding of products and services is impressive, and she completely pampers along the way. From $80; Phoenix Salon & Spa, 1600 Arch Street, 267-514-8000; phoenixsalonspa.com.
Pierre & Carlo The crew at Center City’s Pierre & Carlo are the best to escort you through this humbling nudie experience. They pamper before and after the robe gets dropped, and the result is a perfect streak-free glow that lasts about a week. Ask for Nina; she’ll give you the straight skinny on the whole process, plus tips on when not to do it. $50; 200 South Broad Street, 215-790-9910; pierreandcarlo.com.
City: Michelle Irizarry We were hooked even before we found out that (sshhh!) A.I. is a client. But now that we know, come on: If she can soothe his overworked muscles, think what she can do for your sissy kinks. Not that this energetic and intuitive masseuse makes you feel like anything but her top priority. After discussing your lower back issues in the Zen-like confines of one of our favorite city spas, she expertly targets the trouble spots with a well-trained, calibrated touch that goes as deep as you need. From $90; Rescue Rittenhouse Spa Lounge, 255 South 17th Street, mezzanine, 215-772-2766; rescuerittenhousespa.com.
Suburbs: Darryl Schaffer Hate wussy massages? Take a trip to the tough-love world of Darryl at Body Serene in Skippack, who will unknot your neck (and all else) in 50 minutes of sweet, sweet agony. $75; Body Serene, 4007 Skippack Pike, Skippack Village, 610-584-7284; thebodyserene.com).
Aromatherapy massage at Louis Christian Wayne Robert Steps below the commotion of the upstairs salon is one of our favorite oases, the spaceship-like, silvery underground den of pampering that is LCWR’s spa. Dark and cozy, it’s the perfect place to decompress before indulging in an aromatic treatment that will heal what ails you or, for at least an hour, let you escape from it completely. 1990 Route 70 East, Cherry Hill; 856-751-2233.
OMG Its plummy party vibe and close-to-mansions location make OMG the ultimate salon where BFFs in the private-jet crowd meet up (351 Righters Mill Road, Gladwyne; 610-896-0240).
Joan White This isn’t the first or even the second time Powelton Village’s Joan White has won this award. A guru among local instructors, she’s strict, with dry humor and a deep anatomical knowledge that informs her form-driven teaching. But why again? Last August, the now 63-year-old White suffered a horseback-riding accident that made Madonna’s look like a boo-boo. Eight broken ribs, a broken vertebra and a partially collapsed lung could have retired her. But she kept teaching. And we’re grateful (3505 Baring Street, 215-386-9228; joanwhite.us).
Lithe Method To say that attending one of Lauren Boggi’s “skinny jeans” classes will have you instantly fitting into your favorite pencil-cuts isn’t quite true. It takes two. Not that her other private and group sessions — ranging from classic reformer-based Pilates to Pilates plus rebounding, barre work and aromatherapy — aren’t positively transformative. It’s just that we like the idea of being able to take two muscle-shaking lessons and suddenly squeeze into those tiny tubes of denim (Liberties Walk, 1030 North 2nd Street, 215-928-1662; lithemethod.com).
Express Brazilian wax
Edithe Gonek Poor, pretty, pregnant Edithe Gonek. She’d like to do oxygen facials, but she’s recently been outed as giving the best, fastest full-off Brazilian in town, and seems doomed to a summer — if not a career — of down-there depilation. Though she has hard wax at her disposal, Edithe prefers to smooth on the stickier, organic soft stuff. In an astounding 10 minutes, she’ll have you powdered, plucked, oiled, and paying at the counter (from $55; Blue Mercury, 1707 Walnut Street, 215-569-3100; bluemercury.com).
Standard Brazilian wax
3000 BC This Chestnut Hill salon’s new look is very Zen, with aromatherapy-scented relaxation rooms and a tea lounge. But all the rooibos in the world won’t make up for the fact that you’re about to get the most un-Zen of treatments. Fortunately, specialist Heather Rowe (trained by Lori Nestore, known in spa circles as the “wax queen”) will put you at ease: “This is my favorite treatment to do,” she says. And if this sounds weird, know that her enthusiasm is born of magnanimity, not creepiness: “It just changes people’s lives” (from $65 to $125; 8439 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-247-6020; 3000bc.com).
Elizabeth PoHorily When it’s a perfect lunchtime quickie you’re after, nothing and no one is more satisfying than Elizabeth. Magically, she manages the least painful waxes we’ve ever had, while listening to shape requests, offering up her own suggestions — and insisting that you take more off the top, thankyouverymuch. You’ll leave baby-soft and smooth, and be done within 15 minutes ($30; Toppers Spa Salon, 117 South 19th Street, 215-496-9966; toppersspa.com).
Expansions Vagabond begat in-store baby boutique HoneyMilk; Paula Hian added a retail discount annex; Echochic gave us upstairs vintage den Babooshka; Adresse is slated to open an upstairs home section by summer’s end; and Joan Shepp, bless her, is knocking down walls to make room for an up-and-coming designers’ section Adresse, 1706 Locust Street, 215-985-3161, adressephiladelphia.com; Joan Shepp, 1616 Walnut Street, 215-735-2666, joanshepp.com; Vagabond, 37 North 3rd Street, 267-671-0737, vagabondboutique.com; Paula Hian, 106 Gay Street, Manayunk, 215-487-3067, paulahian.com; Babooshka at Echochic, 1700 Sansom Street, 215-569-9555, echochic.com.
Studio CL No wonder a Who’s Who of Rittenhouse girls is smitten with Artur Kirsh and Alex Molchadskiy’s one-year-old upstairs hair studio. Artur (a John Sahag protégé) and Alex have reintroduced dry cutting, a post-blowout technique that’s both more precise than the common wet way — and much quicker, too, ensuring that you’ll be in and out in time to score your favorite sidewalk table at Rouge. 128 South 19th Street, 2nd floor, 215-496-0604; thestudiocl.com.
Citrus Salon & Day Spa Ask for Michele at this sunny, upscale spot. She does a quick and super-sleek shaping — without making brows too skinny. She may suggest that you tint your brows one shade darker, which — who knew? — makes your eyes look even sexier (1201 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, 610-277-4247; citrussalonspa.com).
Bucks County: Elizabeth Benke & Associates Salon & Color Studio Armed to conquer even the frizziest of frizzies, this funky salon carries Curly Girl hair products and does fabulous things with blowouts and styling. And if the rhythmic straightening starts to put you to sleep, just fix your attention on the spunky light fixtures dropped from the ceiling (from $23; 7 West Oakland Avenue, Doylestown, 215-489-7090; ebsalon.net).
Chester County: Calista Grand CG had us at snacks galore. But what really keeps us coming back are the blowouts, which last longer than free biscotti ever do (from $30; 1211 Wilmington Pike, building 300, suite 301, West Chester, 610-399-6677; calistagrand.com).
Delaware County: Onde Spalon The blowouts are as sleek as the surroundings at this recently opened salon and spa (which also offers great body treatments and facials). Ask for Nicole Murray, who’ll yield hip, glossy, trendy hair ($25; 224 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square; 610-356-4378).
Main Line: Raya Haig We were skeptical when Lana Rader was summoned from behind the in-house boutique counter to tend to our frizzy locks, but working methodically, section by section, Rader spent 35 minutes painstakingly drying our hair into a pin-straight bob that held strong through two days of 90-degree heat ($35; 401 City Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, 610-668-5373; rayahaig.com).
Montgomery County: Heaven & Earth An Nguyen wields his brush and dryer with a confidence that belies his 20-something years. He’s fast (20 minutes), cheap ($25) and in control: His is the best smooth-with-volume blow-dry we found this side of Philly (511 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, 610-828-0211; heavenearthsalon.com).
Philadelphia: Vertigo After 16 years at Thunder, Charles Slider opened his own place — and is giving the best, most obsessive blowouts in town. Such a perfectionist is Charlie that on our last visit, he insisted on fixing the damage done by a previous stylist — free of charge ($35; 1726 Chestnut Street, 2nd floor; 215-561-0290).
South Jersey: Salon 14 North. Curly girls swear by Russ Razzi — so much so that they were willing to follow him over a bridge and through a toll when he left Pileggi after 14 years. His homey salon is as unpretentious as they come — but his eye for giving your hair life is red-carpet-worthy ($30; 14 North Haddon Avenue, Haddonfield; 856-427-9599.).
Bucks County: Serenity Day Spa & Wellness Center The atmosphere is très low-key — when you come in, you’ll add your shoes to the pile beside the front door — but the pedicure is way intense: You get a thorough scrub and long-lasting layers of polish ($50; 64 East Swamp Road, Doylestown, 215-230-3487; serenity-dayspa.com).
Chester County: Currie Massage chairs that work; scented scrubs we wanted to eat; and aestheticians who remember to ask if we want our cuticles cut before just hacking away at them ($50; 121 East State Street, Kennett Square, 610-444-1644; curriedayspa.com).
Delaware County: Corinthian Wellness Salon & Spa You’ll sit atop a pillowed couch, your legs dangling in bubbles in a tiled tub. Then your feet will be delicately towel-dried, exfoliated and — oh, the joy — massaged into delicious relaxation ($40; 3543 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, 610-356-6062; corinthiansalonandspa.com).
Main Line: Aida Armani Color Design Group Lena Barsky takes toes seriously, shapes nails carefully, and offers special cuticle treatments, scrubs and paraffin. Her French pedicure was impeccable ($35; 733 Montgomery Avenue, Narberth; 610-949-9457).
Montgomery County: Jolie Salon & Day Spa Mila Belkovsky, a refreshingly sweet czarina of the feet, gives pale-pink-toed, Hamptons-worthy, exfoliated results, plus she’s fun to chat with for a few minutes before you bury yourself in Us Weekly ($45; 750 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell, 610-277-2152; joliespa.com).
Philadelphia: Water Unlimited. It’s shoebox-sized and soothing, with aqua walls and unorthodox set-ups, like a floor basin with heated sand for reflexology, and one filled with rose petals for a soak. Sit and sip a cappuccino, or on Sunday mornings, savor brunch and mimosas ($23; 1114 Pine Street; 215-629-1199).
South Jersey: Salon Rouge. We love Aimee Silverstein here. Not just because she’s gentle and gracious and thorough and spends extra time massaging our feet, but because her toe-prettying lasts and lasts and lasts: A recent pedicure survived a sandy beach wedding and open-toe shoes in the rain, and still looked fresh after more than two weeks ($50; 2110 Route 70 East, Cherry Hill, 856-424-3611; salonrouge.com).
Suky We knew Suky was no longer all about bridal when, while we were browsing last winter, a Bryn Mawr husband arrived looking to surprise his wife with a long red gown for the Academy Ball. New owner Mary Helen Ranieri — who, of course, still sells those gorgeous Monique L’Huillier and Vera Wang wedding dresses in the roomy, white-on-white showroom — steered him to the new party-dress boutique and gowns from Badgley Mishka, Carmen Marc Valvo, Nicole Miller and Dina Bar-El. He bought, left, and presumably lived happily ever after (102 East Montgomery Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-3686; sukyoccasions.com).
Steve Shuster He’ll deliver Celine dresses at midnight. He’ll find the perfect Chanel handbag for your best friend. He’ll outfit your husband in a Brioni-Prada-Paul Stuart super-wardrobe, and have it all ready — with iced tea waiting on a silver tray — when you drag your man in to try it all on. He’s sweet-natured, always takes your calls, and has two assistants to do the schlepping! (Neiman Marcus, the Plaza at King of Prussia, 610-354-0500; neimanmarcus.com)
Irina Sigal Last year, Elkins Park-based Sigal altered more than 200 bridal gowns — each in a superhuman single fitting. She updates hemlines, waist rises and shoulder widths with an eye and touch that are nothing short of chic-ly divine — and recently brought her heavenly talent to her own suede, leather and silk designs, available exclusively in her eponymous shop (170 Yorktown Plaza, Elkins Park; 215-885-7547).
Margot & Camille Optique Blink too long, and you might walk right by Margot & Camille, all tiny and tucked practically under the Ben Franklin Bridge. Inside the yellow-walled space, owner Valerie Vittu carries screwless, German-made Mykita frames and hard-to-find-in-Philly lines like Ronit Furst and Philippe Starck. And in keeping with the store-meets-gallery trend that exploded over the past year, M&C gets into the First Friday spirit with regularly changing art exhibits (142 North 2nd Street, 215-923-0508; margotcamille.com).
Smak Parlour This BFF-owned Old City boutique is the ultimate remedy for “Mom, I have nothing to wear!” Against a very Hilary-Duff’s-dressing-room backdrop of gilt-framed photos, pink and turquoise furniture, candy-like jewelry and colorful fabric bolts, Smak Parlour’s own-make clothes — trimmed in playful prints and hand-sewn ruffles — channel a more youthful Anna Sui or Marc Jacobs. Each piece is available in limited edition, decreasing chances of dreaded back-to-school wardrobe crossover (219 Market Street, 215-625-4551; smakparlour.com).
Neiman Marcus The Zegna, Etro, Dolce & Gabbana and Paul Smith suits here are Euro-fabulous, but still wearable in our not-so-Euro town, and the expertise of the in-house tailoring geniuses means you’ll look like you’re wearing custom. The Neiman’s shopping experience is, as ever, gratifyingly hedonistic (The Plaza at King of Prussia; 610-354-0500).
Men’s formal wear
Boyds Of course the designer tuxedoes are impeccable here — they’re made by Burberry, Canali, Armani, Ralph Lauren. But fashionistos are also beguiled by the huge selection of formal shirts, vests and ties. Ask salesman Bill Bolling for help — he’ll make sure you don’t try to pull off a Johnny Deppish formal look (1818 Chestnut Street, 215-564-9000; boydsphiladelphia.com).
Airs Appliances There are definitely prettier showrooms — Ferguson’s in King of Prussia, for one — but Airs consistently manages to have the best prices on top brands. We’re especially enamored of the Capital series pro-style ranges — they have all the features of the Viking line for nearly 40 percent less (1115 Chestnut Street; 215-568-1010).
TAG TAG’s got every starlet-worthy brand of jeans — from the obligatory skinny Sevens to dark-washed Pages and faded Chip & Peppers — but it’s the staff’s patience, honesty and wisdom (who knew that single-thickness waistbands are for boyish builds and double-denim for the curvy set?) that really set this place apart from other local denim emporiums (4358 Main Street, Manayunk, 215-482-9656; tagdenim.com).
Allen’s Camera & Video If you’re just looking for a $200 digital point-and-shoot, search the Internet for the best price, and have a camera overnighted tax-free. Allen’s is the place to visit when you want to move up to, say, the Canon 30D, an eight-megapixel SLR that many pros use as their second camera. Owner Allen Leichter is constantly wheeling and dealing, so you’re likely to find a great selection of pristine demo models, like-new used pieces, and factory refurbished equipment, all at reduced prices (4401 New Falls Road, Levittown, 215-547-2841; allenscamera.com).
American Apparel We’re over American Apparel’s greasier-than-thou ad campaign. But we’re thrilled that the franchise has finally found a home in Philly, for never has one store offered so many solid-colored, comfy cotton options (Tanks! Tees! Undies!) for so many body types (1611 Walnut Street, 215-568-1373; americanapparel.net).
Sparacino Mens Sparacino has been Ben Sherman mecca for a while now, but what keeps bringing our boyfriends and us back is its collection of soft, Barneys-worthy vintage-inspired and graphic tees, like the Retrosports line. (Think perfectly faded pro and collegiate sports logos.) Our favorite? A tee made by Frank Sparacino, owner Tony’s brother, with an image of something everyone in Philly can relate to: a parking violation notice (115 South 13th Street, 215-922-4211; sparacinomens.com).
Paper on Pine Mock-croc lined envelopes, imported British greeting cards, custom stationery and invitations, and all the tchotchkes — from chic notebooks to kitschy tissues — you can’t find in one place anywhere else. And to top it off, the place always — mysteriously — smells freakin’ delicious (1008 Pine Street, 215-238-0385; paperonpine.com).
Affordable, chic art
The Philadelphia Print Shop Prints of everything from monkeys to Native Americans to top-hatted 19th-century English fops are among the offerings at the Philadelphia Print Shop — smartly matted and framed, they have an almost modern appeal. Small prints are as little as $35, and searching the addictive website is free (8441 Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill, 215-242-4750; philaprintshop.com).
Hill Company Hill Company’s black wrought-iron furniture by KNF and Woodard is timeless and looks perfect on your slate patio. There are righteous deals on floor samples, and come on: Where else can you get an iron table and six chairs delivered the same summer Saturday you bought them? (8615 Germantown Avenue, 215-247-7600; hill-company.com)
Pet shop, suburbs
Cutter’s Mill Think of it as Whole Foods for pets: The airy space offers organic, natural and holistic everything, with a pet bakery and, bless ’em, an of-course-your-pet-is-welcome-here policy (10 Barclay Farms Shopping Center, Route 70 East, Cherry Hill, 856-429-1690, and 705 General Washington Avenue, suite 702, Norristown, 610-635-0912; cuttersmillpetstore.com).
Norman Carpet They’ve got the chic sisals, the supersoft wool Karastans in every color and pattern, nice Orientals, plus hardwood flooring and tile and quick, efficient service (60 Greenfield Avenue, Ardmore; 550 Brook Road, Conshohocken; 800-220-RUGS; normancarpet.net).
Trendy furnishing district
Blocks Below Broad. Clustered just below Broad Street in their hipster fabulousness, West Elm (funky mod, bargain-budget), Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (elegant-chic, non-heart-attack-provoking prices) and Matthew Izzo (love that Jonathan Adler chair) are the trifecta of trendiness for your nest (West Elm, 1330 Chestnut Street, 215-731-0184, westelm.com; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, 1308 Chestnut Street, 215-732-2001, mgandbw.com; Matthew Izzo, 1109 Walnut Street, 215-829-0606, matthewizzo.com).
Furniture worth splurging on
Usona Most of the items don’t wear price tags at this swank contemporary furniture mecca, where leather-upholstered beds and sectional sofas can run you close to 10 grand. From the lacquered Ming chair to the sleek Metro dining table, Usona is filled with items from Italy, France and the Netherlands that you’ll want to plunder your savings for. As you fork over $6,000 for a credenza, just keep telling yourself that you can’t put a price on style (113 South 16th Street, 215-496-0440; usonahome.com).
HiFi House We know, we know: it wins every year. And while we tried — really tried — to find someone to knock it off its throne, no one else held a candle to HiFi’s level of knowledge, service, patience, quality and selection (509 Old York Road, Jenkintown, 215-885-5300; hifihousegroup.com).
Cheap modern art
Absolute Abstract As Center City apartments continue their morph from trinity to loft, expansive, blindingly white walls from Fishtown to South Philly cry out for a respite from so much minimalist chic. Where can you get a Pop Art knockoff, giclée collage or Zen-inspired canvas transfer that’s jumbo enough to fit your open layout and cheap enough to let you pay your mortgage? New this spring, Absolute Abstract specializes in frameless art (stretched across canvas) that’s 40 inches by 40 inches or larger and around $300 a hang. It’s decorator art a 20-something could love (141 South 13th Street, 215-733-0190; absoluteabstractart.com).
Beethoven Wraps Beethoven will create a custom gift basket for any occasion, but our favorite proves that bigger is better: The towering “Ultimate Summer Celebration” — packed in a green-and-white wicker basket and festooned with hot pink ribbon — is three feet high and filled with cosmo and Bloody Mary mixes, martini glasses, party lights, flip-flop candles, adult drinking games, candy-and-chocolate covered pretzels, beer cups reading “Drinks Well With Others,” and more (126 East Lancaster Avenue, Wayne; 610-995-9550).
Ruth Bowen. This Chestnut Hill artiste has taste, and talent to spare. In addition to expertly (and ever so carefully) hanging paper, and transforming rooms into works of art, she’s also a color consultant. She’s in demand among interior designers and homeowners alike, and the fact that she ranks high on the likability scale doesn’t hurt. 215-247-1723.
Dogma In our next life, we’re coming back as a Main Line pup and camping out at Dogma for its pawdicures, green clay spa treatments and aromatherapy body massages (105 North Aberdeen Avenue, Wayne, 610-341-DOGS; dogmadogspa.com).
Pet shop, city
Doggie Style This newcomer has the organic food Fido needs and the collar Spot actually likes to wear, and its newest outpost on Spruce offers training classes, tricks workshops, a quickie dog-wash spot, and a tiled walk of fame that makes Ginger feel like the rock star we’ve always known she is (2056 Locust Street, 215-546-3670, and 1635 Spruce Street, 215-545-5900).
Suburbs: Sew Rob
Both earn the same praise: They’re reliable, dependable, quick — and just as careful with your jeans as they are with couture (Premier, 1726 Sansom Street, suite 1, 215-568-4288; Sew Rob, 339 East Lancaster Avenue, Wynnewood, 610-649-8718; sewrob.com).
Coeur Both sweet sets from Loungewear Betty and racier skivvies from Puella + Cosabella are housed in this second-floor nook. But we’ll admit our real favorite new addition: the scandalous toy closet, where illuminated shelves display, ahem, everything you need — and want — for a solo night of fun, with workshop classes to show you (partner optional) how (132 South 17th Street; 215-972-0373).