Frances

For some, good fashion sense comes naturally. For others, it all boils down to knowing where to shop. For both, in Phoenix, the destination is almost always Frances. The local boutique with a flagship location off Central, and now a satellite store in Biltmore Fashion Park's Union, is the go-to spot for creative gift-givers and trendy shoppers, offering an ever-changing selection of local, handmade, and bigger brand-name fashions. Whether you're shopping for your girlfriend, best man, baby, or the home, you can see all around that Frances owner Georganne Bryant prides herself on carefully selected whimsical styles and subtle standout pieces. From delicate statement accessories and hand-printed greeting cards to vintage-inspired fashions and Anthropologie-esque home accents, Frances' collection of highly coveted indie retail is as enviable as its pre-Pinterest displays. Lucky for you, Frances is not stingy with its style and offers seasonal DIY workshops throughout the year to help you re-create the stores' handcrafted cuteness at home.

From Greg Eveloff, the dapper gent behind super-sophisticated gentleman's apparel shop The Clotherie, comes Bonafide Goods. The city's self-proclaimed first-ever micro-haberdashery is less intimidating than it sounds. It's small and carries covetable men's clothing that beautifully blends dandyism with ruggedness. (And, yeah, you'll find a few bow ties.) With an eye toward upscale Americana casual, the shop specializes in such well-made, timeless pieces as shirts, jackets, and ties by Billy Reid, large-face Tsovet Watches, and San Francisco-made Tellason Jeans. Whether your wardrobe needs an Esquire-approved makeover or you want to invest in a few quality pieces, Bonafide has your back.

We may never go to the mall again — at least, not till our kids outgrow Love Child. How about a GapKids dress for $4? Or Abercrombie & Fitch jeans for under $10? On our last visit, a pair of hot pink Vans had an "as is" tag, so we asked the clerk what was wrong with them. It took her minutes to locate the tiny pinprick of ink on the side of the shoe. "That's cool," we said. "We'll take 'em!" We love everything about this store — the location (between Changing Hands Bookstore and a Trader Joe's), the easy-to-browse setup, the selection, and most of all, let's be honest, the price.

Last Chance Bargain Shoes & Apparel

Phoenix, we are the only city in the world with a Last Chance location. Yeah, you won't find Nordstrom's final-clearance store anywhere else in the world. And precisely for that reason, it's best to go in there with a plan, whether it involves finding that fits-like-a-glove LBD or a pair of deeply discounted Jeffrey Campbells. Pro tip: Always browse sections that aren't your size. We've heard from, er, friends that Last Chance shoppers often stash stuff they want to come back for in the wrong spot, so they can find it later. (Of course, we would never dream of doing anything like that.) Just goes to show you that your fellow shoppers aren't messing around. Last Chance is serious business.

Tucked on the top floor of Scottsdale Fashion Square is Hub Clothing, a boutique that prides itself on carrying the most cutting-edge denim brands the world has to offer. You'll find Diesel, Nudie, and Acme jeans, desirable baubles by Alexis Bittar and Chan Luu, and Toms shoes. Other brands Hub handles (that just so happen to be celeb faves, too) include Nation LTD and Shakuhachi. There you have it: high-end jeans, hip casual clothes, and one more (really good) reason to hang out at the mall.

Premium leather accessories that Ron Swanson could get behind are the specialty of Phoenix-based brand Bison Made. And before you ask: No, their stuff isn't made of bison. (The razor strops are made of horsehide, though.) The company's wallets, phone cases, and sleeves are handcrafted at its studio inside monOrchid, which you can visit on First Fridays for a behind-the-scenes look at how and where the beautifully designed items are made. The brand's motto is "designed for life," and the folks behind it say that if proper care is taken of a Bison Made piece, there's no reason it shouldn't last a lifetime — or longer. Beyond that, all the materials are sourced in the United States, and no rubber, glue, plastics, or linings are used in Bison Made products. That rules out any "I'm rubber, you're glue" jokes, but we're pretty sure you'll stick with your Bison Made wallet once you make the investment.

Nicole Whittington and James Waldron work in wood. The couple crafts home accessories, postcards, and toys with a playful, colorful bent under the banner Handmade Riot. Most notable (and popular) are their floating honeycomb shelves — though they've expanded their shelving to offer a modular, trapezoidal piece called the Half Nelson. On the sweet side are wooden popsicle-stick coasters in a rainbow of brights and elephant pull toys that are too adorable. Find their homey vendables at MADE, Frances, and GROWop.

Sarah Jessica Parker famously told Vanity Fair, "If you're a nice person and you work hard, you get to go shopping at Barneys. It's the decadent reward." We tend to agree, regardless of our long-harbored assertion that we are total Carries. The Scottsdale Fashion Square department store has a decadent reputation, thanks to stocking high-end designers like Saint Laurent and Givenchy. It's also the only spot we've ever bumped into the horrifically fabulous Simon Doonan, who serves as Barneys' creative ambassador-at-large. (Not to mention that the mall's best parking spots are right next to the store, making all purse purchases totally justifiable.)

Biltmore Fashion Park

Though not every shopping trip comes to as satisfying a conclusion as Kevin Smith's Mallrats, browsing and buying nirvana can be had at Biltmore Fashion Park — no shopping agenda necessary. With a variety of shops that'll entice and entertain, the outdoor center features grassy lawns and floral embellishments between such high-end stores as Escada, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Ralph Lauren. Only ensuring a more lengthy stay is the mall's recent addition: Union. It's a collection of 18 shops, including Smeeks, Citrine Beauty Bar, and Paris Envy, in spaces 500 square feet or less. Once you've sufficiently perused and poked around, refuel with eats from True Food Kitchen or caffeinated goodness at Royal Coffee Bar.

MADE Art Boutique

How many shops have been on Roosevelt Street for so many years you've lost count? We can think of only one. We love MADE for so many reasons, we lose track of those, too. Owner Cindy Dach showcases local artists and craftspeople and supplements her inventory with smart books. She hosts workshops and themed exhibitions. Her shop has become the focal point of a neighborhood she and her husband, Greg Esser, pioneered (and we are using that word in all seriousness) and continue to nurture. We love that these days, we don't just go to MADE to shop. No, we make a day of it — getting our hair cut a street over, window shopping the vintage stores up and down Sixth Street, grabbing a pastry at one of the coffeehouses, and struggling with too many restaurant choices when it's time for lunch. And it all began with one little boutique. Thank you, Cindy.

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