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Boston's 38 Essential Shopping Experiences, April 2013 Update

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In January we introduced our inaugural Racked 38 guide to Boston's definitive retail experiences. Since this is an evolving resource and all, we're taking this seasonal opportunity to update the roster. This time around we've replaced MiniLuxe, Ku De Ta, Turtle, and The Beauty Mark with Shake the Tree (an award winning tucked-away boutique for everything from hostess gifts to trendy wears), North River Outfitter (a temple to prepdom that covers all family members), Bobby From Boston (the beloved men's vintage store), and worldly home goods purveyor (slash cafe and break from SoWa sun) Mohr & McPherson.

Per usual, we tried to strike a balance between major neighborhoods, price points, and aesthetics, leaving out food stores (Eater Boston has those covered) and any boutiques less than six months old. The list below is in no particular ranked order; rather, we're taking a look from north to south, then hopping across the Charles.

Do you have any other suggestions? We update the list quarterly and are always looking for reader input. State your cases for (or against) stores in the comments or email the tipline.


Shopping elsewhere? Check out the updated Racked 38s for Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, not to mention Racked National's list of the 38 best e-commerce sites.

04/02/13: Added: Shake the Tree, North River Outfitter, Bobby From Boston, Mohr & McPherson

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1. in-jean-ius

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441 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 523-5326
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Alison Barnard is looking out for your bottom half with a store dedicated to denim, part of which involves finding the best fit. With styles from most major premium denim lines—Joe's, Citizens of Humanity, J Brand, Hudson, Paige, Denimocracy—the chore of trying on pair after pair transforms into an adventure for the best derriere. In-jean-ius handles your upper body too, with trendy tops for every occasion.

2. Shake the Tree

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67 Salem Street
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 742-0484
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One stop shopping is the most satisfying for an on-the-go gal, and the North End boutique Shake the Tree keeps us on our toes with home trinkets, scents, books, accessories, and clothes galore. Designers' trunk shows are often held here, so watch the calendar for dates.

3. Louis

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60 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 262-6100
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Does Louis even need an introduction? As far as the ultimate Boston shopping experience goes, this is it. Nearly a century old and having inhabited a historic Back Bay building for the latter part of the twentieth century, the fine retailer moved itself to the waterfront several seasons ago—thus upping the cool factor of this burgeoning district significantly (understatement of the millennium?). Since then, fashion lovers have adored this one-stop-shop for Proenza, intoxicating Diptyque candles, snacks at Sam's, and new hairdos at Salon Mario Russo.

4. Crush Boutique

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131 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 720-0010
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Shoppers step in to Crush—Beacon Hill is the original location, with a secondary Newbury Street outpost—for a blend of contemporary favorites including Alice + Olivia, Shoshanna, and Parker alongside accessible footwear and jewels from Boutique 9, Matt Bernson, and House of Harlow 1960. What keeps 'em coming back is the styling-centric service (they even host private parties) and freshly updated goods.

5. Good

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133 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 722-9200
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Good has been a haven for unique buys for over a decade, finally upgrading to a space four times bigger than its original Charles Street location last fall. Come here to seek out collected items ranging from regional home goods designers to transcontinental inspired jewelry and lovely leather bags.

6. North River Outfitter

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122 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 742-0089
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NRO serves New England's preppy community dutifully, stocking the latest wide variety of goods from Boston-loved lines like Milly, Alden, Barbour, Vineyard Vines, and dozens more. In just the last year, it expanded to a kids store directly next door, and as of late November last year, a sport store across Charles street.

7. Vira Boutique

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107 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 367-0305
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If VIRA feels like it has NYC cool factor, that's because it does—founders Vivek and Radhika brought their FIT backgrounds home to Boston last spring. The lofty space boasts emerging international designers and sought after contemporary labels to excite the cosmopolitan woman.

8. Holiday Boutique

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53 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114
(617) 973-9730
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The epitome of a girly boutique, Holiday has the affection of Beacon Hill and beyond with feminine frocks made in Massachusetts, a signature cashmere collection, and designers like Eryn Brinie and Geren Ford. Also find pretty knick knacks for your abode throughout the vintage-inspired store.

9. Moxie

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51 Charles Street
Boston, MA
(617) 557-9991
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Moxie focuses on adornments for your extremities: shoes in every silhouette and plenty of arm candy (in bling and bag form). A foray into apparel at its Wellesley location occasionally delivers stunning dresses from Erin Fetherston and Chan Luu to us city gals, but on a typical day, shoppers can swoon over a curated mix between classic and trendy footwear and accessories from the likes of Rebecca Minkoff, Foley + Corinna, Loeffler Randall, and Brian Atwood.

10. Alan Bilzerian

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34 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 536-1001
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Consider yourself fabulous? Well, you better be shopping here. This family-owned shop is a bazaar of maverick luxury designers including Isabel Marant, Yohji Yamamoto, and Ann Demeulemeester as well as renowned fashion houses like Lanvin. Celebrities often frequent the establishment, and many ultra fashion fans contend this is excellence in service and selection.

11. Riccardi

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116 Newbury St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 266-3158
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With a legacy spanning several decades, Riccardi is the brainchild of Riccardo Dallai, an Italian transplant in Boston who wanted to make waves in a conservative town. Since then, his ability to turn this city on to cutting edge international fashion from Balmain, Givenchy, Nicholas Kirkwood, Dsquared2, and more, truly catapulted us into the world class shopping hub we have become.

12. Serenella Boston

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134 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 262-5568
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Making a dramatic entrance is simple when you build a wardrobe with Serenella pieces. The Boston and Nantucket venues corner a niche for off-the-runway and hard to find European designers in a boutique setting, including apparel from Altuzarra and Rochas, fantastical jewelry from Delfina Delettrez, and gowns from Prabal Gurung. Just remember to pick up your jaw when you step inside.

13. Ball And Buck

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144 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 262-1776
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Earlier this year, founder Mark Bollman told GQ that Ball and Buck is the "ultimate place to be a man." Guys come to this subterranean habitat for rugged Americana-inspired threads, kicks, and accessories ranging from mini lighters to limited edition collaborations—all of which are made in the USA. Alongside its commitment to domestic jobs, the team also keeps customers looking fresh at the in-store barbershop open Tuesday—Saturday.

14. The Closet

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175 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116-2835
(617) 536-1919
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Painfully chic vintage enthusiasts flock to this garden-level Newbury Street consignment shop for designer booty, often priced at a third of original retail. Superfans keep a pulse on the store's blog, where daily updates prove both the caliber and swift turnover of hot items.

15. Second Time Around

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176 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 247-3504
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While the lower Newbury subterranean store is a trendy counterpoint to this Boston STA flagship, shoppers here can find luxe items from Celine, Marc Jacobs, and Chanel among other standby labels. Two stories at this twenty year old location make for a treasure trove of discount wears.

16. Scoop NYC

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177 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 874-4400
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This NYC retailer is noteworthy on its own, so upon opening in Boston, the shop confirmed that local ladies are craving the "ultimate closet" too—Camilla Skovgaard, Theory, Gryson, Vince, and more. Highly acclaimed and blossoming designers inhabit this shiny two-floor store (first floor men's, second women's). Also, be sure to check out Scoop's eponymous line.

17. INTERMIX

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186 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116-2811
(617) 236-5172
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This national chain is always worth a visit, as its inventory is a veritable who's who of the fashion heavyweights. While there is plenty of brand overlap with other Boston shops, ladies keep coming to Intermix for a sophisticated set of merchandise, including a consistent flow of exclusives, and solid customer service.

18. The Tannery

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711 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 267-5500
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The Tannery has been a Greater Boston mainstay for decades, and the Boylston Street flagship is just the spot to ogle a variety of footwear from Frye, ritzy outdoor apparel from Canada Goose, and upscale fashion on each store level, our favorite of which is obviously Curated by The Tannery for designers like Viktor & Rolf, Kimberly Ovitz, and Helmut Lang. What really fuels our desire is the sale rack though. So clutch.

19. Daniela Corte

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211 Newbury Street
Boston, MA
(617) 608-4778
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With a garden level storefront and her studio upstairs, designer Daniela Corte is taking over more than just a Newbury brownstone. Lovers of Corte's impeccable separates and signature legging bar are well known in the upper echelons of Boston fashion, but the crisp white and wood space also allows the general public intimate access to her beautiful clothing season after season.

20. LIT on Newbury

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223 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 421-8637
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The perfect destination for retail therapy on any budget, LIT calls both the Back Bay and North End home. Expect to find pieces that transform easily from day to night in the streamlined Newbury Street store, chock full of trendy wears from contemporary labels.

21. Rescue

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297 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115
(857) 350-4410
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This edgy boutique is a beautiful merge between buy/sell/trade and consignment (for those super swanky designer goods). If The Closet often signals "uptown," then Rescue is definitely "downtown," with everything from rag & bone to Alexander Wang and Surface to Air on its racks.

22. Converse

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348 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 424-5400
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The first flagship of this internationally renowned footwear giant sits rather humbly at the base of our main shopping thoroughfare, but its two-level space is quite the ode to Converse's Massachusetts roots. The industrial design is a clean canvas for countless Chucks, apparel (with prominently displayed denim), and an in-store customization station. Die hard fans will be in sneaker heaven upon stepping in.

23. Barneys New York

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100 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 385-3300
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It's hard to imagine that this temple to luxury was ever a crappy movie theater, but then, it's hard to imagine anything when you're being distracted by endless Rick Owens jackets and 3.1 Phillip Lim bags. Offering the New York shopping experience in our own backyard, Barneys remains arguably the creme de la creme of its department store category and the first place to go for off-the-runway fashion and prestige beauty.

24. Bodega

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6 Clearway Street
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 421-1550
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The secret Snapple entrance is a rite of passage to many streetwear enthusiasts far and wide—no surprise given its close proximity to the universities. Since the secret is already out, we won't keep mum on the killer selection of all the sneaker favorites, jackets from Schott and Dr. Romanelli, Super and even vintage Cazal eyewear. And if you want a snack, the literal bodega is open too.

25. Uniform

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511 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 247-2360
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Uniform is the spot for stylish casual gear with more character than the mall stores. No Gucci or GPPR here—this inventory is not street nor is it high fashion—just good ol' RVCA, Levi's, Spiewak, lots of denim, Will Leather Goods, and plaid buttondowns galore from Ben Sherman, GANT, and Penguin.

26. Flock

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274 Shawmut Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
Mother-daughter duo Lisa and Danielle Kupsc nail the laid-back Cali vibe with an eclectic one stop shop for stylish ladies seeking out indie brands with a couple Boston-bred labels thrown in for good measure. The boutique is cozy and inviting, with whimsical vintage decor setting the tone for offbeat designers like Lauren Moffat, Line & Dot, Alkemie jewelry, and Pendleton.

27. SoWa Vintage and SoWa Open Markets

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460 Harrison Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
(800) 403-8305
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For the past decade, Bostonians have been strolling SoWa's markets on Sundays in search of clever trinkets, unusual decor, locally crafted items, and a cluster of vintage and antique vendors. Indoors you'll find the year-round Vintage Market, with May through October adding on an outdoor farmer's market, food and fashion truck gatherings, and tent upon tent of distinctive buys. Come fall, artisans prep for the notorious Holiday Market.

28. Bobby From Boston

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19 Thayer Place
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 423-9299
People claim this is the best men's vintage shopping around, and a small women's selection is available too. Amazing bags, preppy wears of yesteryear, and a totally cool ambiance are the attraction here.

29. Mohr & McPherson

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460 Harrison Ave
Boston, MA
(617) 210-7926
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Bostonians flock to Mohr & McPherson for relaxing lattes in the cafe, but what keeps them exploring the space is a selection of rustic decor items and a treasure trove of Asian-found goods. Plus, they have a dedicated rug gallery.

30. M. Flynn Accessories

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40 Waltham Street
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 292-0079
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The sparkle at M. Flynn Accessories lures you in with a shabby chic interior and endless displays of Alexis Bittar, Lulu Frost, Erickson Beamon, in-house collections including a fine jewelry branch of the business, and plenty of bridal and engagement gems. Lauren Merkin clutches and a slew of other darling add-ons round out the experience here.

31. Patch NYC

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46 Waltham Street
Boston, MA 02118
(917) 292-2640
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Given their worldwide fame as artists and collaborators with Target and Anthropologie, we dig that the creative pair behind this design dynasty still calls a little South End courtyard home. The headquarters and shop are a warm setting for striking jewelry and home goods, many of which are private label and all of which are keepers.

32. MassArt Made

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625 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 879-7407
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Boston is known as an innovator of education, right? Put yourself in the shoes of an design student (or alum) that has the chance to show work in a straightforward boutique open daily. MassArt developed exactly that kind of enterprise right on Huntington Avenue, with proceeds of each sale benefitting the local artists and contributing to financial assistance for students. As shoppers, we are especially keen on the constantly changing jewelry and apparel selection.

33. Brookline Booksmith

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279 Harvard Street
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 566-6660
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This award-winning bookstore in charming Coolidge corner is much more extensive than it looks from the street. Over 50 years old, the shop is distinguished by its helpful staff, events ranging from grad students reading poetry to best-selling author series, a used book basement, and a monthly book club going 10 years strong. It's a true neighborhood center drawing shoppers from all walks of life.

34. Forty Winks

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56 JF Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 492-9100
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On the outer edge of Harvard Square sits the loveliest little intimates boutique, run by lingerie aficionados Rachel Wentworth and Meredith Donaldson. The duo manages to stock an outstanding range of undies, convincing ladies on both sides of the Charles to start caring about what to wear under the rest of their wardrobe. They also stock little extras from The Laundress, Spanx, leg wear, and garter accessories.

35. Concepts

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37 Brattle Street, The Atrium Shopping Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 868-2001
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Opened in 1996 as part of the Harvard Square Tannery, Concepts is a Cambridge institution specializing in high-demand collabs and all the hype that surrounds a major release from Clarks, Nike, Stussy, and other iconic brands in skate and street culture. It also offers pieces from locally hard to find fashion legends like Margiela and Comme Des Garcons. A sleek design characterizes Concepts as a curated lifestyle brand synonymous with quality and a point of view.

36. Mint Julep

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6 Church Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 576-6468
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Mint Julep has built a Northeast empire for the perfect casual-meets-party assortment of premium denim, Milly and Tibi dresses, Ella Moss separates, and Adia Kibur baubles—all pleasantly priced. The Brookline storefront came first, but the Harvard Square setup speaks to students and twenty-somethings alike, bringing plenty of feminine flair to the Cambridge side of the Charles.

37. Harvard Book Store

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1256 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 661-1515
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Block out a chunk of time when you visit this landmark indie bookseller, founded in 1932, which contrary to its name has no affiliation with Harvard University. Readers can pore over the latest bestselling titles or poke around an extensive selection of used books—and then maybe stay for one of the many author lectures in a packed event series schedule. A history of innovation includes eco-friendly bike delivery in the area and a book-making robot to aid in self publishing.

38. Oona's Experienced Clothing

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1210 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 491-2654
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Harvard Square institution Oona's Experienced Clothing has been dressing Greater Boston in the funkiest vintage gear from the 1930s through the 1980s since 1972. As it closes sister spots Oona's Outpost and Cafe Society, the original shop will absorb a slew of vintage jewels and cowboy boots. Make sure to check out the top notch apothecary collection of fragrances and candles for an extra bit of panache.

1. in-jean-ius

441 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113
Alison Barnard is looking out for your bottom half with a store dedicated to denim, part of which involves finding the best fit. With styles from most major premium denim lines—Joe's, Citizens of Humanity, J Brand, Hudson, Paige, Denimocracy—the chore of trying on pair after pair transforms into an adventure for the best derriere. In-jean-ius handles your upper body too, with trendy tops for every occasion.
441 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113

2. Shake the Tree

67 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113
One stop shopping is the most satisfying for an on-the-go gal, and the North End boutique Shake the Tree keeps us on our toes with home trinkets, scents, books, accessories, and clothes galore. Designers' trunk shows are often held here, so watch the calendar for dates.
67 Salem Street
Boston, MA 02113

3. Louis

60 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02110
Does Louis even need an introduction? As far as the ultimate Boston shopping experience goes, this is it. Nearly a century old and having inhabited a historic Back Bay building for the latter part of the twentieth century, the fine retailer moved itself to the waterfront several seasons ago—thus upping the cool factor of this burgeoning district significantly (understatement of the millennium?). Since then, fashion lovers have adored this one-stop-shop for Proenza, intoxicating Diptyque candles, snacks at Sam's, and new hairdos at Salon Mario Russo.
60 Northern Avenue
Boston, MA 02110

4. Crush Boutique

131 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114
Shoppers step in to Crush—Beacon Hill is the original location, with a secondary Newbury Street outpost—for a blend of contemporary favorites including Alice + Olivia, Shoshanna, and Parker alongside accessible footwear and jewels from Boutique 9, Matt Bernson, and House of Harlow 1960. What keeps 'em coming back is the styling-centric service (they even host private parties) and freshly updated goods.
131 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114

5. Good

133 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114
Good has been a haven for unique buys for over a decade, finally upgrading to a space four times bigger than its original Charles Street location last fall. Come here to seek out collected items ranging from regional home goods designers to transcontinental inspired jewelry and lovely leather bags.
133 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114

6. North River Outfitter

122 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114
NRO serves New England's preppy community dutifully, stocking the latest wide variety of goods from Boston-loved lines like Milly, Alden, Barbour, Vineyard Vines, and dozens more. In just the last year, it expanded to a kids store directly next door, and as of late November last year, a sport store across Charles street.
122 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114

7. Vira Boutique

107 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114
If VIRA feels like it has NYC cool factor, that's because it does—founders Vivek and Radhika brought their FIT backgrounds home to Boston last spring. The lofty space boasts emerging international designers and sought after contemporary labels to excite the cosmopolitan woman.
107 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114

8. Holiday Boutique

53 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114
The epitome of a girly boutique, Holiday has the affection of Beacon Hill and beyond with feminine frocks made in Massachusetts, a signature cashmere collection, and designers like Eryn Brinie and Geren Ford. Also find pretty knick knacks for your abode throughout the vintage-inspired store.
53 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114

9. Moxie