The 5 Best… fashion boutiques
12th Oct 2012
Last week I sent through some notes I was working on for this post, a list of places to remember. But tutt-tutt if you thought you were reading the definitive Best 5 boutiques post. Non, mes amis! Here it is in all its glory, a slightly changed format to help guide to you to the best boutique for your needs.
There are so many lovely boutiques around and it’s been a really tricky job trying to narrow the boutiques down to such a few. That’s why the Best 5 has become the Best 9 today. Talk about value for money.
PS If you have a favourite that’s not on here, let me know in the comment box below. I have a feeling there will be lots of discussion about this one (*assume the brace position*)
So here goes, in no particular order:
Chattertons isn’t the kind of place you want to step inside if you’re wearing muddy jeans or your fitness gear – you may be turned to stone – but there’s no denying there’s some lovely clobber in this boutique, from Missoni and Michael Kors to Marc by Marc Jacobs (*sigh*). Meanwhile, Fluidity in neighbouring Henley is as slick as they come, and beautifully thought out. Choose from the Denim Room, Avant Garde Room (trendier, more edgy labels), Main Line Room (modern classics) and the Every Day Room. Men are stuck across the road in their own shop, out of the way (sorry boys, that was just a little joke there). Labels are droolsome and expensive with it – Margaret Howell, Amanda Wakely, Paul & Joe. Nightmare on Bell Street for your bank balance, but who cares when you look this good?
Fluidity, 43-45 Bell St, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 2BA. Tel: 01491 412 323. www.fluidity-f2.com
Chatttertons, 55 High Street Amersham, Buckinghamshire HP7 0DP. Tel: 01494 722 854. www.chattertonshop.co.uk
Best for grown ups: Vanilla (Oxford)
In a city that so often seems to fail those looking for individuality, Vanilla has long been the exception. Nestled sleekly in Summertown in a light, airy corner boutique that perfectly sets off its eclectic fashion, accessories and modern homewares, Vanilla offers up grown-up individuality. It’s never racy but it’s always chic and one of those boutiques that’s just so relaxing to meander around as everything is so beautifully presented. Total retail therapy.
Vanilla, 13 South Parade Oxford, OX2. Tel: 01865 552 155. www.vanillalife.com
Small is beautiful when it comes to customer service, and bijoux boutiques CocoMarie and Curve both manage great clothes selections that work for both younger and older buyers, and demonstrate a genuine love of the job that comes through in spades. The service at Wendover is incredibly thoughtful with after hours opening for your convenience and deliberately roomy dressing rooms for comfort; Jenny and her staff at CocoMarie have the biggest smiles in the biz. Both shops can kit you out in a blink.
Coco Marie, 13 Market Square, Amersham, HP7 0DF. Tel: 01494 434 116. www.cocomarie.co.uk. Curve, 2 Aylesbury Road Wendover, Aylesbury HP22 6JQ
Tel: 01296 620 623.
There are no shortage of great vintage/previously loved/designer shops in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire - Vintage Rosie in Great Missenden is fab, Unicorn in Oxford is a crazy treasure trove if you can elbow your way past the front door – but Vintage & Couture is the standbard bearer for high end vintage. I featured Vintage & Couture a few weeks back and posted a huge swathe of photos because there was simply so much great stuff in this boutique. At the less expensive end, Renaissance in Witney is a fabulous mix of costume jewellery, proper vintage, second hand and new. Great value and lovely pieces in a gorgeous market town.
Renaissance, 5 Wesley Walk Town Centre, Witney OX28 6ZJ. Tel: 01993 848 539. www.renaissancevintage.com
Vintage & Couture, 11 Windsor End Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire HP9 2JJ. Tel: 01494 671 150. www.vintageandcouture.com
Best for budget-conscious: Muse (Thame, Oxfordshire), Cactus (Banbury)
Muse hits the middle ground between designer and high street. This small independent chain with othet stores in Rickmansworth and Berkamsted offers great knitwear from £49, dresses from £60 and well-priced accessories. I always seem to find something to wear from here. Meanwhile, Cactus in Banbury is ploughing a lonely furrough as a quality independent boutique in the struggling market town. Go there for well-priced jeans, a good selection of jewellery and some lovely select pieces from the likes of Fenn Wright Mason and Ted Baker.
Muse, 54 North St, Thame, Ox9 3BH. Tel: 01844 260776. www.muselifestyle.co.uk
Cactus, 20 Parson’s Street Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 5LY. Tel: 01295 262805
Best for men:
Well, that’s a whole new ballgame! Gentlemen, I’ll kit you out next month.