The secret’s long been out: Brooklyn is a hell of a place to go shopping. Boutiques that sell good-looking, innovative fabrics seen all over the streets of Kings County are in abundance here. Given this reality, selecting the most outstanding among them is no walk in the park. But with a lot of input, and, let’s be honest, shopping trips of our own, those that excelled at this—selling some of the most exciting, creative, tasteful, classy, and unique items out there—stood out. Here, then, for our September Style Issue, are our picks for the best boutique retailers in Brooklyn—the go-to shops that stock each of your favorite garments, from every category, in your closet.
With perennial stars like Bird, In God We Trust, Wolves Within, Park Slope’s consistently outstanding A. Cheng, and Alter, the affordable source for trustworthy staples in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, highlighting just one women’s boutique feels unfair. But without question, Pas Mal in Greenpoint hits all the right spots. Here, all-around really means all-around: dresses, knits, tops, bottoms, outerwear, swimwear, shoes, accessories, all with a minimal, almost-ballerina-like tilt, but, in their fabrics, cuts, and details, these items are very obviously special. Of course, this does not translate to cheap, but it won’t break the bank either. For lasting classics you will build your wardrobe around, Pas Mal is realy pas mal at all.
Best All-Around Men’s Boutique
Modern Anthology, with its two locations—one in DUMBO and one in Cobble Hill—sets a whole new standard for the term all-around boutique. Sure, they stock an impeccably curated selection of casual mens clothing that consistently combines traditional styling with modern silhouettes; and, sure, they offer a full line of leather goods and accessories, while also effortlessly meeting all your grooming needs. But they also carry a full housewares line: furniture, rugs… an insanely awesome $190 pepper mill we can’t stop thinking about. Basically, Modern Anthology makes it so that you, and everything around you, looks really, really good, no matter the situation.
Brooklyn is no slouch when it comes to vintage. Malin Landeus in Williamsburg offers gorgeous, reach-item vintage: Antoinette in South Williamsburg provides the cozy experience of exploring your classy relative’s closet; Harold and Maude Vintage in Bed-Stuy provides a more playful take on the endeavor; and Dusty Rose Vintage in Greenpoint brings us the thrill of the thrift treasure hunt, with bins upon bins labeled with precise yet enticing sub-categories like “nautical mix,” “status print,” and “ultimate normcore.” But Williamsburg’s 10 ft. Single by Stella Dallas offers the most wide-ranging and accessibly-priced garments for men and women, yet ones that are still carefully and meticulously categorized by color, print, and item. Whatever your vintage needs, 10ft. Single has you covered, as in, very well-dressed.
Before Eva Gentry was Eva Gentry, it was Butter—a boutique opened by Eva Dayton that displayed her top-rate tastes in fashion. But in that space, she pursued a small second-hand business, and that, eventually, emerged as her passion. Today, Eva Gentry is Brooklyn’s best consignment shopping experience. You can find the high-end labels you did not want to pay top-dollar for, plus all your wardrobe staples that offer more refined tastes than the department store, with a more intimate shopping experience. Walk into Eva Gentry consignment and you are sure to walk away with gems that stay in your wardrobe for years.
Despite their flowy nature, dresses transition gorgeously from summer to fall and winter with tights, boots, scarves, and jackets. Many dresses, we dare say, even look their best in cold weather moments. While it is common for boutiques to have a signature dress or two per season, few have several great styles at once. Electric Nest in Williamsburg is certainly an exception, though you will pay top-dollar to shop there; on the more affordable end there is Awoke (which is vintage, yes, but also abundant in high-quality smocks), but for the newly manufactured variety, there’s Prospect Heights O.N.A., which stocks many beautiful dresses from some of our favorite designers, many of them Brooklyn based, including Wray, Carleen, and Study NY.
Boutique shoe shopping in Brooklyn is not, exactly, prevalent. This is a surprise because people are are very well dressed here, and so are their feet. Given this dearth of shoe boutiques—and if you can’t afford to go all-the-way high-end, yet want something better than DNA Footwear—Shoe Market hits that sweet middle spot and fills it with handsome abundance. Ask a man or woman in a high-quality, good looking pair of shoes where they bought their kicks, and, the answer, often, is Shoe Market. From Jeffrey Campbell to Rachel Comey to Bass and Frye, to European brands galore, Shoe Market has all of the carefully-selected boots, bootie, rain boot, winter boot, sandals, and canvas shoes you need, and they’ll even live to see more than one season.
At this point, Cat Bird is synonymous with jewelry in Brooklyn. But there are many more incredible jewelers that make and sell gorgeous items, even though Cat Bird, who in part set a certain minimal, gold aesthetic, gets much of the spotlight. In Red Hook, Erie Basin shines with its hand-selected vintage jewels and rings. But in Boerum Hill, Erica Weiner is where the very best stuff is at. Both with her own collection, 1909, which is vintage inspired fine jewelry, plus wedding and engagement bands, and a massive cache of vintage earings, rings, and pendents collected around the country, we bid you good luck walking into Erica Weiner and not walking out with a prize.
A good-fitting bra is not an easy thing to find—let alone something that most women are taught to find, or take the time to do. So when word gets out of a lingerie shop that truly sizes and works with you one-on-one to get the fit your body needs, one should go there, and never stop returning. A bra that truly fits can change lives. So for all of this, and the very attractive undergarments (and sleepwear, and swimwear) they sell, Iris, on Atlantic Avenue, is a store that every woman in Brooklyn should make their own. Iris herself has got your size and number—cup and band, to be precise.
Best Tailored Clothing
Believe us when we say that we wholly understand why any time a reasonably young and reasonably stylish Brooklyn-dwelling man finds himself invited to a wedding, he heads straight to J. Crew for one of those Ludlow numbers. But also believe us when we say that, for just a few hundred dollars more, you can do much better. Brooklyn Tailors, founded by the husband-and-wife team of Daniel and Brenna Lewis, make real-deal high-end suiting that’s slim-fitting but not stupidly so, in luxurious fabrics and with patterns that are subtly interesting. They’re making some outstanding shirts, too, of both the dress and casual variety. So you can lay off those J. Crew “Secret Wash” shirts everyone else is wearing while you’re at it.
On one hand, fashion gods say: remove one accessory before leaving the house. On the other, no outfit is complete without them. Greenpoint’s In God We Trust, with their handsome in-house jewelry and fun sunglasses, does well here; and Pas Mal, as noted, has what you need. But we especially love A. Cheng in Park Slope. Designer Alice Cheng offers everything for the no-frills, classy Brooklyn woman (including her own line), and all the accessories you need to top a look off: leather bags, knit scarves and caps, staple jewelry, tights, socks, even nail polish and scents. A. Cheng won’t let you gild the lily—only in the right amounts.
Photos by Dana Decoursey