As a graduate of the University of Georgia, I will always have an indescribably special place in my heart for Athens, GA (I know all fellow dawgs will agree). Athens has the highest concentration of culture per square mile of any town I’ve ever visited. Within a five mile radius of the downtown area you can dine at some of the best restaurants in the nation and shop at some of the highest caliber boutiques. Athens is also home to amazing spas and salons, quaint local bars and breweries, beautifully curated museums, intimate venues, and more. I could probably write a book praising all of the attractions in Athens, but in this City Hot Spot post, I will keep my focus on the fashion.
The fashion in Athens spans from high-end boutiques carrying top designer names to sustainable boutiques showcasing vintage and hand-made wares. It would be impossible to name just one fashion hot spot to visit in Athens. So, I’m breaking the shops down into four categories.
BEST LUXURY BOUTIQUE: Heery’s Clothes Closet
Heery’s has a better selection of top end designers than most department stores. The racks are lined with labels like Tibi, Nanette Lepore, Tory Burch, Milly, and Diane Von Furstenberg just to name a few. For over fifty years, Heery’s has been an essential fixture in the downtown landscape. They’re known for absolutely swoon-worthy window displays. I remember many a night passing Heery’s while bar-hopping and having to restrain myself from pressing my nose to the windows to oogle the new arrivals. If you’re on a budget, Heery’s holds phenomenal sales offering up to 80% off twice a year! But wait, it gets better! Whatever doesn’t sell at the major sales at Heery’s goes to one of their sister stores in Five Points, Four Seasons Fashion. Once the merchandise goes here, it’s up to 90% off! I’ve gotten some absolutely amazing items from these sales at a mere fraction of the retail price. P.S. Shop online here.
BEST EVERY GIRL BOUTIQUE: Encore
You may have seen me feature Encore in a previous post showcasing their Spring 2014 look book. Encore’s carefully curated look books are just one of the things that set this boutique apart from the countless others in the downtown area. Encore carries all the essential brands like Michael Stars, Sam Edelman, Tart, Joes Jeans, and many, many more. Think of this as the ultimate every-girl’s boutique whether you’re looking for the perfect dress or basic denim. Don’t forget your accessories! Encore also has a full line of jewelry, handbags, and other wares. No matter what your style – trendy, preppy, bohemian, classic – Encore has something for you. Encore’s owner Nikki Grant has truly raised the bar for fashion retail in Athens with tactful buying, impressive styling, and a very relatable online presence that appeals to girls of all ages and styles.
BEST SUSTAINABLE BOUTIQUE: Community
Community has added a whole new dimension to the fashion scene in Athens. It is a sustainable boutique situated in my all time favorite space in downtown, right above Jittery Joe’s. Community features vintage apparel and accessories, hand made wares by local artisans, and apparel that is designed in house from vintage pieces. In addition, Community offers sewing and knitting classes, alterations, private shopping parties, and closet consultations. Ultimately, Community has cultivated a place for those interested in the art of fashion design to connect and continue their education. They also demonstrate a strong advocacy for local artisans and sustainable fashion with an emphasis on unique style and impeccable quality. This is truly a carefully curated a one of a kind boutique. P.S. Shop online here and check out their OOTD here!
BEST CONSIGNMENT BOUTIQUE: Suska
You may have seen me feature my favorite consignment boutique in my Spring Cleaning: Closet Edition post back in April. Even though I haven’t lived in Athens for almost three years, this is still where I go to consign my clothes. I’ve yet to find a better consignment boutique in Georgia or elsewhere! Suska is located about two miles outside the downtown in five points. Suska’s owner, Susanna Drennen, founded the boutique in 2005 with a passion for fashion as well as eco-consciousness. She believes that buying second-hand or previously loved items is a great way to recycle, and I couldn’t agree more! Suska is not another Plato’s Closet. They do not give you cash on the spot. Through a methodical process they hand select every garment and research each item through a number of channels to assess its current value, taking into consideration factors like its original retail price, depreciation, and its resale potential. After the 45-day consignment period, you receive 40% of each item’s value in cash or check or 50% of each item’s value in the form of a store credit. Learn more about their process, policies, and how to consign here.
Shopping is a whole different game in Cancun, Mexico. Unless you go to one of the malls to hit up international stores also found in the U.S., don’t expect to see price tags and do expect haggle, a lot. The good news is, especially if you’re a pretty girl (or really just a girl from the United States), you’re going to be able to charm your way into a sweet deal. Better yet? Go with your girlfriend and get a great two for one deal. However, even with my man on my arm, finding a bargain was no problem for me in Mexico. If you’re up to the challenge, head out of the hotel zone, press on past the malls, and explore one of the sprawling flea markets in the heart of downtown Cancun.
The City Hot Spot in Cancun, Mexico: Market 28
Market 28, or Mercado 28 as it’s known by the locals, is an outdoor market with handcrafted goods and authentic food options. Speaking Spanish is a bonus but absolutely not required (I can’t say much other than hello, my name, and “I don’t speak Spanish”). There are hundreds of stalls, or booths, at this market with handmade leather goods, silver jewelry, embroidered bags, woven sunhats, and every other souvenir or trinket you can imagine. There are also some genuine Mexican dining opportunities, and, of course, ice cold cerveza to keep you cool. Definitely don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes and clothes. As you trek around, you will break a sweat! Carve out a couple hours before sundown to hit up this hot spot. We took a very reasonably priced bus from our hotel that dropped us just a few blocks from the market.
How to Haggle
Perfecting a haggling technique is essential when shopping in authentic Mexican settings.
1. Make a game plan with your group. Create signals to let your shopping partners know when you’re haggling and when you’re ready to move on to the next stall. These vendors give the word persistent a whole new meaning. They will not take “no” for an answer if you show the slightest inkling of interest in one of their wares.
2. As I said earlier, there are no price tags. If you find something you like, ask the vendor for the price in pesos or dollars, whichever you prefer. There is a chance they will alter the price depending on the form of payment, so sometimes it’s beneficial to carry both pesos and dollars. Definitely carry cash, as most vendors will not take credit cards. They will either give you a starting price on the spot or in some cases, particularly with jewelry, they will weigh the item and declare a price by weight.
3. From here, you can either make a counter offer or start playing the game: show hesitancy, say you need to think or look around, etc. There’s also the option of simply telling them you think the price is unfair and see what type of counter offer they come down to. If you are looking at more than one item in a particular store, you can ask them to make a deal with you for multiple items. It’s essentially a process of trial and error, but don’t feel like you’re scamming the vendors. They expect to haggle with you! It’s part of the buying and selling technique in these markets.
4. If you make a purchase, they will treat you like a queen and if you decide to leave without making a purchase, they will try to prevent you from leaving. Do not let the vendors intimidate you if you decide not to make a purchase. Full disclosure: it will be slightly uncomfortable and awkward. Just remember you are in control and you have the upper hand. Stay strong and firm and don’t get pressured into purchasing something you don’t want to buy. You are on vacation and your hard earned money is precious! No need to return home with buyers remorse.
If you’ve visited New Orleans during Mardi Gras, you know how crazy I was to think that I would be able to take a leisurely stroll Magazine Street and shop the local hot spots. However, there’s no denying the style and culture in NOLA. I’ll have to wait until my next visit to tell you the hot spot to shop in the Big Easy, but for now I’ll give you a crash course on how to dress like the natives next time you travel to the bayou.
First, I’ve got 3 tips to live by as you style yourself for the Big Easy:
1. Unless you’re visiting in the dead of summer, wear layers. On a sunny day, it’s warm and humid, but once the sun sets and the ocean breeze comes by, there’s a chill in the air!
2. Bring a small satchel, stylish backpack, or sizable cross body. You’ll definitely want a bag that’s roomy and easy to tote souvenirs, snacks, or drinks (remember – no open container laws here, so you can even pack a beer!).
3. Ladies, this is by far the most important style rule when visiting NOLA: WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. New Orleans is a pedestrian town with lots of sites to see on foot. Don’t learn the hard way like I did! Wear. Comfortable. Shoes.
Now, I’ve got some style inspiration for your next New Orleans getaway. Think hipster meets 90’s grunge with a bohemian flair. The style in New Orleans incorporates a balance of vintage inspiration and modern accents, and of course, color is a huge part of the city and its culture.
P.S. Looking to plan your trip to NOLA ASAP? Love fashion (of course you do!)? New Orleans Fashion Week is this month! For more information, check out the site.
Hello readers! Thank you for bearing with my brief absence once again!
This on-the-go post is coming to you from beautiful and balmy New Orleans! I’m here for the weekend celebrating Mardi Gras and catching up with old friends. Follow along with my adventure on Twitter and Instagram! I’ll share pictures and updates of all the festivities over the next few days. Below is my current view. After coming from snow and negative temperatures up north, I’m in heaven!
I’m still finalizing some of the blog updates, but next week AOC will be back in full swing. Expect a post on the City Hot Spot in New Orleans and more! For now, please check out my newly renovated ABOUT and CONNECT pages with photographs by the lovely and talented Angie Webb of Suburbanite Photography. I can’t wait to connect back with all my readers next week!
I spent this past weekend in Chicago, and of course, I had to make time for a little retail therapy. I ended up trekking around the Southport neighborhood after grocery shopping with a friend, and the Lincoln Park neighborhood near my friend’s apartment. I came upon a number of cool places but there were definitely two front runners in the neighborhoods.
If you’re in Southport, check out Cerato boutique for a mix of local Chicago designers and other awesome brands. There are two Chicago-based designers that caught my eye while browsing Cerato: Sophia Reyes and Alicia Mohr of Ali’s Collection. Cerato’s sampling of Sophia Reyes namesake collection consists of ultra feminine, flowy dresses made of 100% silk. The boutique also has an extensive selection of unique, statement making rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets from Ali’s Collection.
I can’t resist a good consignment shop, and near the corner of Armitage and Halsted, there are a few consignment stores worth hitting up. I snagged a couple gems at Second Time Around (STA). STA doesn’t quite make the cut for Chicago’s City Hot Spot because the consignment company has locations in eleven other states, but my finds are too good not to share. First I found a gray, wool Cartonnier blazer for $25.00. Cartonnier is a staple line at Anthropologie, and they make truly awesome blazers (I should know, I own two others already!). Next I made my find of the day: a double breasted Theory wool military style jacket in the Pantone color of the year, Radiant Orchid! This amazing item was a whopping $60! I must admit, I got these winter goods at such serious steals because all winter merchandise was an additional 50% off (wink, wink Chi Town ladies looking for an awesome winter deal).