It may be ungodly hot around the Valley for a decent part of the year, but that's no excuse for dressing poorly, especially when so many local shops are here to make sure you're looking great even at 110 degrees. Whether you're looking for that perfect pair of cowboy boots for the trail or a wild outfit that'll make you stand out at the next rave, you'll find just what you're looking for at one of these spots for sharp dressers.
Best Boutique: Frances
10 West Camelback Road
Stepping into Frances is always a cause for excitement. What new merchandise will we find? Is today the day we treat ourselves to that trinket we've had our eye on? Frances, which was founded by Georganne Bryant in 2006, is a well-curated shop filled with delights for everyone. We come for Rifle Paper Co. paper goods, jewelry from local makers, candles by Standard Wax, shirts by Hello Apparel, the sweetest baby gifts in town, and cactus-themed everything (glasses, necklaces, lunch bags, socks — you name it). Every time we stop in the store, there are new sights to behold, and it takes plenty of willpower not to take it all home with us.
Best Vintage Clothing: Antique Sugar
801 North Second Street
Nestled in the heart of the Roosevelt Arts District, this tastefully organized boutique is always shopping for the best in '40s couture and the most marvelous '60s department-store knockoffs — and so are we, so we love them. Do they also have the largest collection of vintage menswear in the state? They do — and that's pretty rare for any shop selling old clothes. Environmentally conscious clothing fans who embrace repurposing love this place, as does anyone who thinks off-the-rack A-lines made of nubby Kinekelon just look better than stuff made this year.
Best Local T-Shirts: State Forty Eight
On February 14, 1912, Arizona was admitted to the Union. It's a good thing that New Mexico beat us to statehood by 37 days, because State Forty Seven just doesn't roll off the tongue the same way. Around since 2013, State Forty Eight produces merch that features the company name artfully placed within an image of our beloved Arizona, all in a variety of color schemes. There are shirts and accessories for men, women, and children to choose from. Wearing a State Forty Eight shirt around town is a great way to show your Arizona pride and your support of local business in one stylish fell swoop.
Best Clothing Store: Phoenix General
5538 North Seventh Street #120
We feel cool just walking into Phoenix General. The clothing and accessories shop at The Colony retail and dining complex is stocked with simple, chic pieces like flowy linen Sunday dresses and tops, Ozma jackets and skirts, and ace&jig jumpers. We also love the Phoenix General-branded options, which include simple tees for men and women, and unique accessories like jewelry, shoes, and bags. Phoenix General even carries a few things for the home, goodies like Boy Smells candles and art prints by local stars the Fortoul Brothers. The staff makes you feel welcome without being overbearing, allowing us to roam the small space at our leisure to find our next great acquisition.
Best Costume Shop: Mardi Gras
5895 North Granite Reef Road, Scottsdale
The love of playing dress-up doesn't go away when you grow up – not for us, anyway. Mardi Gras in Scottsdale, which has been around since 1974, is where we like to let our imaginations run wild. The store has virtually everything you need to be a hit on Halloween or any other dress-up occasion. Costumes, wigs, hats, accessories, makeup – it's all there. The store rents costumes as well as selling them, in case you don't feel like committing to that Jack Sparrow ensemble. The staff is helpful if you have questions; otherwise, feel free to just roam the aisles and imagine all the fun you could have.
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Best Place to Get EDM Gear: The Flow Shop
414 South Mill Avenue, #106, Tempe
Want to get into the electronic dance music scene? The good news is that tons of club nights, festivals, and raves happen in the Valley on the regular, each serving up all the beats and bass you can handle. And for everything else you might need for the EDM experience, head to The Flow Shop in Tempe. This ultra-vibrant boutique tucked away in the quaint Mill Avenue Shops offers more rager-friendly accessories than you can shake a glow staff at (and they've got plenty of those, too). Proprietors Nathan Machutta (a.k.a. Nathan Firelight) and "Devil Stix" Dave Hirshman stock many items of interest to any kandi kid or EDM fan, ranging from kaleidoscope goggles and LED gloves to fashion that's furry, flashy, and flamboyant.
Best Eyewear: Framed Ewe Optical
5538 North Seventh Street, #120
We've considered talking to our therapist about the horribly unfashionable glasses we were forced to wear as children, but we decided a far better way to heal is simply to move past our former eyewear traumas by donning specs from Framed Ewe. The shop at The Colony retail concept (and its smaller sister at Biltmore Fashion Park) carries the latest and most stylish eyewear looks in both eyeglasses and sunglasses; labels include Thom Browne, Salt, Moscot, Retro Super Future, and Garrett Leight. The employees are friendly and helpful, and the Colony location has an optometrist on staff, so you can get right down to the business of upping your glasses game.
Best Cowboy Boots: Saba’s
3965 North Brown Avenue, Scottsdale
It can be hard to remember — amid the lush golf courses, sprawling office complexes, glittering swimming pools, and air-conditioned shopping malls — that metro Phoenix used to be the Wild West. But that legacy is still evident at Saba's, a local chain of Western stores. The first one opened in 1927, when customers still rode horses to the store, according to the website. Today, horses are no longer the dominant form of transportation, but Saba's is still our top pick for Western gear. The cowboy boot selection for men, women, and children is extensive; whatever your budget, Saba's has the footwear for you. The service is invariably warm and friendly, and since Saba's is a longtime supporter of the local rodeo community, it's the least we can do to support them right back.
Best Beauty Store: Citrine Natural Beauty Bar
2502 East Camelback Road
We don't know what's harder — trying to decipher the ingredient list on the food at the grocery store or the beauty products at the drugstore. We're still in trouble at the supermarket, but we solved one of those problems by shopping at Citrine, an independent natural makeup and skincare store located in Biltmore Fashion Park. Citrine carries merchandise by high-end companies like Jane Iredale, Lotus Wei, The Beauty Chef, May Lindstrom, and Tata Harper. The company also provides services like color matching, skin analysis, and makeup application. The knowledgeable staff at the bright, cheerful store always are willing to help us pick the products that will work best for our skin, and our selfies are the better for it.