George Champion Modern Shop
Woodbury, (203) 263-8442 (georgechampioncompany.com/modernshop)
Ah, the drama: George Champion’s 20th-century modern designs shake up Woodbury’s “Antiques Row” like nothing else. This is the place for high-fashion furniture, lighting and objets d’art the likes of an iconic Eames rosewood chair and ottoman refurbished with Herman Miller oxblood leather cushions, an area rug starring Andy Warhol’s “Elvis,” a 1970s chrome “Picchio Lamp” and a vintage “Tulip” dining group by Eero Saarinen for Knoll—check out that swivel! Back to the future, indeed.
Country Loft Antiques,
Woodbury, (203) 266-4500 (countryloft-antiques.com)
Set on 19 acres of what was once the Samuel Bull Homestead, Country loft Antiques lives up to its picture-postcard pastoral setting with a prized selection of European and American antiques and accessories warmly displayed in historic barns. Think 19th-century French twin headboards upholstered in red-and-white toile, a cherry farm table with delicate turned legs or a grand pine bibliothèque complete with original glass panels and hardware. But will it work with your decor? You’ll love that owner Carole Winer, a grad of Parsons School of Design, offers full design services.
DLC, Westport, (203) 255-9099
“Anyone who says money can’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop.” Or so says Mary O’Toole, owner of DLC (Designer Label Consignment). She prides herself on being “very picky” and accepts only items in impeccable condition—with names like Gucci, Tory Burch and Prada, as well as midrange names like Theory and J. Crew, and lots of designer jeans. Best of all, O’Toole won’t hesitate to let you know when something just doesn’t work on you. What really sets DLC apart is the menswear section. It’s often said that you can’t sell men’s clothes on consignment because guys wear their clothes into the ground. But O’Toole has found some who don’t, who are apparently partial to Zegna and Armani.
Artisan’s Marketplace, Plainville,
(860) 747-4121 (artisansmarketplacect.com)
Family-run for more than 30 years (and built from the ground up by owner and silversmith Martha Couture’s husband, Jim), this picture-perfect Victorian shop carries dazzling wheel-thrown stoneware by Kentucky’s Blanket Creek Pottery; therapeutic brass, silver and copper jewelry by California’s Sergio Lub; fine-cast metal wind chimes and sculptures by Arizona’s Harmony Hollow Bell Works . . . in short, look no further for beautiful creations that are also functional, durable, high-quality and, most importantly, American-made. Artisan’s offers bridal registry, special order and corporate gift services, too.
OptiCare, multiple locations,
(203) 574-2020 (opticarepc.com)
Eyewear never looked so good. At OptiCare’s 18 Connecticut locations, designer frames by Kate Spade, Fendi, Coach, Ray- Ban and more share space with more affordable specs for the whole family. But that’s not all: OptiCare is a medical group and really does care for your eyes, with top opticians and ophthalmologists at every location.
The Barn, Bridgeport,
(203) 334-3396 (thebarn-bridgeport.com)
A premier fabric and home-furnishings shop for over half a century, The Barn is located in the historic 1869 storage barn of the old Hurd Stone Factory. It’s the largest such store in the area, carrying decorative fabrics and trimmings as well as ready-made and custom window treatments, slipcovers, cushions, upholstery and much more—all at affordable prices.
The Bowerbird, Old Lyme,
(860) 434-3562 (thebowerbird.com)
You can’t get anything you want at The Bowerbird—shoppers inclined to give friends fishing lures, a bottle of Irish whiskey or diamonds on special days will come up dry—but if, like most of us, you’re looking for that perfect baby toy (whether the “baby” is two- or four-legged), a bit of moderately priced bling for a significant other, some Caspari paper goods for a hostess gift or just a cheery greeting card (more than 60 companies are represented), you’re golden. Because there’s a 10,000-item inventory (from roughly 2,000 different vendors), you’re sure to go home with a treat for yourself, too. The shop knows whereof it speaks when calling its wares “impulsive necessities.”
Soleil Toile, Westport,
(203) 454-8688, and New Canaan,
(203) 966-2887 (soleiltoile.net)
This mother-daughter act is our go-to spot for sexy underthings and sophisticated nightwear. Marilynn Lipton and Stacey Schumer offer a handpicked selection of beautiful lingerie (Chantelle, La Perla, Wolford, Marie Jo, Eres), silken nighties and pjs (Hanro, Natori, Oscar de la Renta, Cosabella) and fine hosiery. The shop also has great swimwear by Eres, Letarte and Manuel Canovas, among others. Best of all is the one-on-one attention from the attentive staff.
Tahiti Street, Greenwich,
(203) 622-1878 (tahitistreet.com)
Andrea Bisordi knows swimwear—she should, since she’s been in the business for 22 years. Her cheerful Greenwich boutique features a wonderful selection of bikinis, one-pieces and tankinis by more than 30 cutting-edge designers—names like Eres, Kuny, Letarte, Karla Colletto and Tommy Bahama. There are mix-and-match two-pieces in B, C and D cups and lots of great cover-ups, accessories and a bigger-than-ever collection of adorable sundresses.
Grape in the Shade,
Washington, (860) 868-9119
A favorite of local vintage stylist Becca Bergen (fashionshesays.com) as well as the wardrobe designers for Sex and the City 2, this treasure trove of classic looks—all in mint condition (or within a hairsbreadth of same)—recently turned us into a girly-girl for the better part of an afternoon, playing dress up with Jackie Kennedy-style ’60s hats. Others have swooned over the shoes, gowns and jewelry from every era, including finds like a ’30s Schiaparelli-style white Ottoman jacket. Grape in the Shade owner JoAnne Lombardi—mother of “Rescue Me”’s Michael Lombardi—says that she’s worn vintage since she was 15, and her shop reflects the impeccable taste we’d expect from a lifelong fan.
Mitchells, Westport, (203) 227-5165 (mitchellstores.com)
Ed and Norma Mitchell founded Mitchells in 1958 with “three men’s suits, a coffeepot and a dream.” Their first location was a 800-square-foot former plumbing supply store in Westport. Today, Mitchells is a 25,000-square-foot fashion powerhouse run by Ed and Norma’s children and grandchildren. Handsome-man brands include Ermenegildo Zegna, Hickey Freeman, Agave, Diesel, Coppley and Hugo Boss. My, aren’t you tall, dark and well-dressed.
Delmonico Hatter,New Haven,
(203) 787-4086 (delmonicohatter.com)
How does a quaint little hat shop that still cleans and hand blocks homburgs, fedoras and derbies survive in the 21st century? The Internet, my friend. Lil’ ol’ Delmonico Hatters, a New Haven institution since 1908, got into cyberspace early and now sells a ton of lids to men, women and children across the globe—without losing a bit of its Old World charm.
FootPrints Shoes & Accessories
Newington, (860) 666-3100
“History, service and selection” is what this venerable 30,000-square-foot superstore is all about. Founded in 1979, FootPrints boasts more than 200 brands (men’s, women’s and kids’), with more than 100,000 pairs of shoes in stock and some 80 “footwear professionals” on staff to help you put your best foot forward. Plain toe, Algonquin tip, sandals . . . the guys are covered in sizes from 7 to 20 and widths from double narrow right up to 6E. Top names include Allen Edmonds, Bostonian and Cole Haan.
Vineyard Vines, Greenwich,
(203) 661-1803, and Westport,
(203) 227-3400 (vineyardvines.com)
Vineyard Vines seems to be in the pink (and green) of health these days, with 14 locations in addition to the flagship in Greenwich. Shoppers from Oak Bluffs to Memphis to Newport Beach, Calif. (and of course online) can now get a good look at the latest batch of ties in it’s-always-summer-somewhere patterns such as Shark Frenzy, Montauk Scene, Barracuda, Tiki Hut and Kiteboarding, along with scores of other neckware choices and a full line of clothing and accessories.
Age of Reason
Westport, (203) 226-8199
At your your wits’ end coming up with a birthday party present? Just make a beeline for Age of Reason, deliver yourself into the capable hands of one of the trusty salespeople, and presto, problem solved. They’ll take you by the hand and lead you around, pointing out this or that wonderful creative gift idea among the abundance of toys, models, books and games. What you won’t find: commercial tie-ins, action figures and the like. “In general,” says manager Helene Kurtz, “if Toys R Us carries it, we don’t.” What you will find is a host of interesting, educational (in a good way) alternatives such as Lego Architecture kits, jewelry-making and tie-die kits, Djeco French puzzles and crafts, Haba blocks, books of Chinese fairy tales, and plenty of things that appeal to “kids of all ages.”
The Shops at Saybrook Country Barn,
Old Saybrook, (860) 388-0891 (saybrookcountrybarn.com)
Set in a 1799 sea captain’s house, for 30 years Saybrook Country Barn focused on offering the kind of distinctive, high-end home furnishings everyone covets. But in 2007 the “Barn” underwent not only a physical expansion, but a broadening of its mission, enlarging its furniture showrooms and adding shops devoted to curtains, tabletop decor, silk florals, candles, gourmet foods, and apparel and accessories. In short, now Saybrook’s got everything to dress your home elegantly, and yourself as well—in top-shelf lines like Vineyard Vines, Longchamp, Joan Vass and Vera Bradley. Make a day of it by dining at Aspen, an onsite restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine with global accents.
Darien, (203) 655-9841 (helenainson.com)
Stop searching through rows of picked-over racks looking for that one special dress. Whether you’re looking for a chic little cocktail dress or a fabulous gown, this is the place to find it with ease. The shop is stocked with the finest designs from more than 150 manufacturers as well as eye-catching accessories to match. But that’s only the beginning. Fashion-savvy consultants take charge, size you up and pin down the perfect outfit for you, while you wait! Trust them, try on everything they hand you, and you will be the stunner who turns heads at the party.
Elegant Touch Fine Gifts, Cheshire,
(203) 250-1165 (elegantouchfinegifts.net)
Because it’s nestled in one of those nondescript glassfront strip malls that line Cheshire’s Main Street, you may have passed this one by. Don’t. Over 17 years, Anita Bruscino has built a thriving business based on her own selective taste in gourmet foods (Stonewall Kitchen, David Bradley Chocolates, Republic of Tea), porcelain (Franz), body products (Thymes, Pré de Provence, Caswell-Massey), jewelry (Judith Jack, Sorrelli, Silver Seasons), home and garden decor (Vance Kitira, Nambé, Home Bazaar) and more. Her care extends to the uncluttered layout of the shop and the warm, encouraging way she deals one-on-one with customers—as many times as we’ve witnessed that, we never cease to be impressed. Gift baskets are a big part of her business, too, starting at $25 (all themes, no matter how personal, can be accommodated).
Flirt, Hamden, (203) 287-0092
Flirt carries clothing, jewelry and accessories for any age, figure or taste. This unique boutique, which opened in 2007, brings a European style to central Connecticut and has great rapport with its customers. Famous brands include Free People, J. Brand Jeans and Pink Lotus. New merchandise arrives daily, giving you lots of reasons to keep coming back.
Shoe-Inn, Westport, (203) 227-9246
Whether you’re holding on tight to summer with flip-flops or are ready to slip into a new pair of boots for the fall, this Westport landmark has got you covered—as it has for the past 40 years. The focus: “the hottest footwear from some of the most fashion-forward designers.” Perhaps you’ve heard of them—Donald Pliner, Stuart Weitzman, Michael Kors and Kate Spade, to name but a few. Accessories, jewelry, hosiery and, yes, the handbags to match those chic stilettos are also a specialty of the house.
Kimberly Boutique, Guilford,
(203) 453-2554, and West Hartford,
(860) 523-4894 (shopkimberly.com)
Owner Kimberly Mattson Moster calls Kimberly Boutique “my business and my passion”—and it shows. With experience gleaned from fashion powerhouses like Barneys New York and Reem Acra, she focuses on “excellent customer service” and finding the “perfect fit” for every client. Look for designers like Yansi Fugel, Lilla P, Alexis Bittar and Nicole Miller as well as “tons of cashmere” and hot silk blouses in the fall collections—ooh-la-la.
WishList, Darien, (203) 655-0050,
Greenwich, (203) 629-4600, and Westport, (203) 221-7700 (shopwishlist.com)
Teen fashionistas flock to WishList for the hippest fashions, from fabulous dresses and adorable accessories to cool jeans and comfy activewear. But there’s something here for women of all ages, with brands like Ella Moss, Free People, Splendid, JBrand and 7 for All Mankind lining the racks.
(860) 561-3024 (shopwestfarms.com)
People of all ages, styles, budgets and appetites will find something to like at Westfarms Mall. High-end stores like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co., four department stores and a whole host of distinctive shops cover the spectrum. Hungry from all that shopping? Enjoy Italian fare at BRIO Tuscan Grille, grab a bite at Au Bon Pain or take the family for a jungle adventure at Rainforest Café. It doesn’t stop there—Westfarms continues to expand, with Urban Outfitters, Free People and Anthropologie coming soon.
Most Improved Mall
Westfield Trumbull, Trumbull,
(203) 372-4500 (westfield.com/trumbull)
There’s an air of continuing improvement at Westfield Trumbull, now home to 170 stores and 20 food stops following a major renovation. Coach, Ann Taylor, Lord & Taylor, Metropark, Skechers and even a BMW of Bridgeport showroom are among the many attractions. New additions include J. Crew, H&M, 77kids, Clarks and L.A. Fitness.
The Promenade Shops at Evergreen Walk, South Windsor,
(860) 432-3398 (thepromendadeshopsatevergreenwalk.com)
Here’s a first-class shopping experience that feels like something midway between a mall and a downtown main street. The 60 or so shops and restaurants include the likes of L.L. Bean and Brooks Brothers, Ten Thousand Villages and J. Crew. You can dine at Johnny Rockets if you’re in a hurry, Burtons Grill if you’re not. And if you’re worn out from it all, you can get in some relaxing at Green Tangerine Spa & Salon.
Peter Indorf, New Haven,
(203) 776-4833, and Madison, (203) 245-5700 (peterindorf.com)
The charming and talented Peter Indorf is at your service, whether you’re seeking an artistic setting for grandmother’s diamond or want to create custom finger candy for the special someone in your life. His two shops are filled with fine, handcrafted designs, each destined to become an heirloom. (Many already have: He’s been making jewelry since the 1960s.)
Peter Suchy Jewelers, Stamford,
(203) 327-0024 (petersuchyjewelers.com)
As the state’s largest estate and antique jewelry dealer, in business in Stamford for 30 years, Peter Suchy is the go-to guy for things beautiful, sparkly—and with patina. A visit to his shop is a heady experience indeed, with over 10,000 pieces to choose from—one-of-a-kind rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and watches in gold, platinum, diamonds and colored gemstones, in styles from Victorian and Edwardian to Art Deco and Retro. You’ll find vintage pieces by Tiffany, van Cleef, Cartier, Patek and Rolex at this shop—one that’s been called a “jewelry museum.”
(203) 869-0124 (betteridge.com)
You’ve got to love a company with history. Founded in 1897, Betteridge is one of the oldest jewelry and watch businesses in the world to be owned by the same family. Fifth-generation jeweler/CEO Terry Betteridge’s “bejeweled” roots date back still further, to 1700s Birmingham, England, where the Betteridge name was synonymous even then, he says, with fine jewelry design and silver-smithing.
Dovecote,Westport, (203) 222-7500
The sliver of a jewel shop on the edge of this lavish home furnishings emporium is a must-stop in Westport. Owner Sarah Kap-lan, once a buyer for Neiman Marcus and Barneys, has a tastemaker’s eye for beautiful, unique things, and the jewelry here is truly exceptional. The diverse collection of beautifully displayed original pieces, at a wide range of price points (from $20 to $20,000), includes over 200 artists and vendors from across the country—names such as Me & Ro, Catherine Weitzman, Tay, Julieri, Lisa Freede, Roni Blanshay and Anna Knipe—as well as Connecticut designers Ann Lightfoot and In 2 Designs.
Best of Connecticut 2011 Style