While there are excellent clothing stores scattered all over the city—from legendary designer emporium Louis in the Waterfront district to mix-and-match boutique Mint Julep in Harvard Square, they’re most concentrated in the South End and Back Bay. While you’re in the area, don’t overlook the upscaleCopley Place mall for luxe designer boutiques and some of the city’s best department stores, including outposts of Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus.
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This leading local gift shop may have more quirk per square foot than anywhere else in the city. Their tagline ("unexplained necessities") may offer cold comfort as you stagger home laden with art papers, hilarious hipster stationery, a Beehouse teapot, seven reusable bags, a log-shaped book on contemporary Japanese forest culture and a vegetable peeler in the shape of the Kraken.
The first branch of this women's boutique was launched by two Harvard graduates in Brookline in 2004, swiftly followed by a larger Harvard Square shop. Mint Julep offers an appealing melange of labels (both European and American), styles, prints and prices—the only unifying factor is an underlying postmodern country-club aura. You'll find lots of retro-influenced dresses, cool T-shirts and colorful accessories.
Among the nation‘s top gourmet shops, Formaggio Kitchen continues to dazzle connoisseurs with its vast, gem-studded collection of artisanal cheeses from the world over—as well as its cornucopia of accoutrements. You‘ll find condiments, charcuterie, confectionery and speciality ingredients, ranging from flowering teas and heirloom cattle beans to Hawaiian red sea salt and Piedmontese chickpea flour.
This independent bookseller in Harvard Square works hard to rival the larger chain stores with its varied selection of general-interest books and helpful staff, always ready to recommend a title or two. Students crowd the substantial philosophy and cultural theory sections. Bibliophiles make a beeline for the basement, where the used and remainder book shelves are packed with everything from dog-eared cookbooks to gorgeous art books, all at a hefty discount.
Treat your canine buddies to the best treats ever at this local chain. Polkadog’s natural, handcrafted treats run the gamut from nuggets and sticks to cute cookies and birthday cakes. Pups go wild for their dried cod skins and clam sticks, two of the goods made with local products. Polkadog has multiple locations around the city, the original location is in the South End.
A longtime fixture in Newton Center providing custom-tailored menswear for more than 50 years, Mr. Sid now offers the same high quality services in the Seaport. The shop carries or custom-orders suits, shirts, and shoes from luxury brands as well as its own chic line. Don’t feel like shopping? Mr. Sid will come to you, with in-home fittings and even closet consultations.
At first glance, it looks like any other convenience store, the window lined with faded bleach bottles and paper towels. Step in front of the faux Snapple vending machine to activate the hidden sliding door and reveal the secret store within a store. Inside is the ultra-modern interior of Boston's flyest sneaker shop—carrying rare kicks from Nike Tier Zero and Adidas Consortium—as well as deluxe streetwear and books on art and design.
Opened by a mother-daughter duo, this South End boutique is the perfect place for ladies of all ages to try on girly wares from hard-to-find designers, with an emphasis on proprietor favorites like Lauren Moffatt. Tucked away just off the main drag of Tremont Street, the shop's rustic, whimsical decor is positively enthralling.
In a sea of chains, Trident remains a tried-and-true standby for the more indie-minded of Boston’s over-caffeinated literary nerds. The magazine selection is peerless—art zines, obscure trade publications, and is that a Spanish edition of Foreign Affairs? The food and drink is solid; if you’re bummed about not being able to order a single-origin pour-over, the atmosphere will make up for it.
The patriarch of Boston’s fashion scene, Alan Bilzerian has outfitted the city’s most stylish denizens, men and women alike, in styles from Issey Miyake, Isabel Marant, Rick Owens and more. This is not a boutique for the student set—prices regularly run into the four figures—but for those with money and a dedication to style, this is only indie boutique to visit.