Palo Alto Shopping
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In the shadow of Stanford Shopping Center are an array of independent boutiques offering their own unique takes on Silicon Valley style. Here are 10 that shouldn’t be missed.
532 Ramona St., Palo Alto CA 94301; Tel. 650.327.2997
Shoppers jonesing for some retail therapy will find the charming clothes and extremely helpful staff at Cassis on Ramona St. will give them the perfect shopping fix. The boutique’s non-pretentious sales girls are easy to talk to, and can help ladies pick out their I-need-something-to-wear-tonight dresses to frilly tops, all in fun prints and rich colors. The orderly but not stuck up ambiance is exacerbated by their body flattering styles that have a dash of panache.
Charmosa Fashion & Swimwear
522 Bryant St., Palo Alto CA 94301; Tel. 650.838.0455
Inspired by the beaches of Brazil, the bikinis at Charmosa Fashion & Swimwear Boutique are drop-dead sexy. This is the place for women in the market for the perfect ittsy bittsy two-piece to up their hotness on vacation. Owner and designer Neide Hall brings the sensibilities of her South American homeland to all of her swimwear designs. Her large selection of hand-painted, beaded, embroidered and sewn bikini pieces include bright and sassy prints and cuts. The rest of the shop’s stock is also decidedly beach-ready, from poolside jewelry to sun hats, bags and cover-ups.
Far East Living
540 University Ave. #100, Palo Alto CA 94301; 650.328.0880
Far East Living is the brainchild of designer and owner Esther Shih, a Silicon Valley native who left the high-tech world to purse a passion for modern Asian-inspired fashion. The result is a beautifully designed clothing line and shop that brings forth the exotic beauty of Asia. Her clothing mixes contemporary cuts and styles with fine traditional silks, mandarin collars and even exotic mink, which can work both in the boardroom and for evenings out. Everything sold in the dark-wood-decorated shop on University Avenue is made by local artists or designed by Shih herself, like traditional tea sets and bath robes.
425 University Ave., Palo Alto CA 94301; Tel. 650.328.2121
Excusing the cheesy name, Fashion Passion is a boutique gem on the University Avenue strip. Specializing in imports and European labels, the large, well-lighted shop carries everything an unashamed clothes hound could want to stay in a state of chic. They have boldly printed, daring cocktail dresses for the twentysomething set, as well as more conservative wear to flatter ladies who don’t want all their goods hanging out. Fashion Passion’s handbag and scarf selection is impressive, as are their eclectic art jewelry lines.
In Her Shoes
644 Emerson St. #100, Palo Alto CA 94301; 650.326.9644
Why not splurge for a good cause? In Her Shoes is a tiny shoe and garment store with a mission: the sale of all products benefits the global fund for women. The exquisite interior is decorated in a faux-Indian style, with lots of cushy couches, chairs and mirrors. Their large stock of heels, flats and sandals go up to size 12, and include high-end designers like Sam Edelman and Richard Tyler. They even carry a selection of bohemian dresses, skirts and necklaces in back. Look above the shoe racks at the luxurious purses and clutches that are lined up above, made out of high quality tooled leather and tapestry.
In Lady’s Boutique
444 University Ave., Palo Alto CA 94301
In Lady's Boutique is a shop in the business of chic, modern designs with an emphasis on small unique textile details. They have a large quality of bubble dresses and soft, brightly colored leather jackets, all seemingly inspired by Japanese and Italian street wear. Watch out though, because fashionistas that shop here really need confidence. Women have to be able to hold their heads high to pull off some of the out-there looks featured on the shop’s mannequins, like dresses that mix multiple plaids, and vests with crazy cut outs. In Lady's Boutique also stocks a small selection of funky purses that spice up the shelves.
524 Bryant Ave., Palo Alto CA 94301; Tel. 650.326.2298
Pronounced “knowledge,” Nalej is a tiny clothing shop located on Bryant St. Swing by this store for creative threads with a fusion of both basics and stand-alone garments. They carry a great assortment of light, summery going-out dresses that will wow wardrobes, as well as caps and fedoras. Their variety of clothing styles include both emerging indie designers, and brand favorites like Kenzie and Voom by Joy Han. Nalej also has a small men’s section, as well as candles and accessories.
540 Ramona St., Palo Alto CA 94301; Tel. 650.323.4912
If Nuni and Nooni from SNL’s Schoener’s skit hit up Palo Alto, they’d shop at Phyllis on Ramona Street. No gaudy floral patterns here—Phyllis is all about a modern, avant-garde sensibility. The long, thin, minimalistic shop is decorated entirely in red, white and black, with stripes and geometric patterns painted onto the walls. Large, Jackson Pollock– esque spatter paintings are on display among racks of edgy, deconstructed, monochromatic clothing with a subdued color palette. Many pieces feature elaborate draping and unconventional cuts that may not flatter every body type but are sure to be conversation pieces.
624 Emerson St., Palo Alto CA 94301; Tel. 650.322.7664
Romi Boutique is all about the Jennifer Aniston look: classy, casual understated elegance. They carry simple, feminine designs that flatter, like the shorts-and-a-T look while out and about, but simultaneously still polished and put together. Romi’s selection of soft T-shirts and camis is gigantic, with the whole upper floor of the store dedicated to these well-made basics. While the girls can try on the best of brands like Rebecca Taylor, Alice & Olivia and Nanette Lepore, the large, comfy couches and large selection of magazines situated in the center of the store offer a place for tag-along boyfriends to take a load off.
441 University Ave., Palo Alto CA 94301; Tel. 650.321.1099
With the sound of trickling tabletop water fountains and tinkling wind chimes, walking Shady Lane craft gallery is like entering an oasis of hippie calm. Large glass cases line the walls, filled with a large array of jewelry, babbles, crystals and fairy art. The one-of-a-kind stock carried in this magical little jewelry shop makes a point to emphasize the works of local craftspeople. California jewelers Tabra, Holly Yashi and Ann Lewis, among others, supply Shady Lane’s selections of sparkling sterling silver, gold and semiprecious stone trinkets. They even stock a menagerie of carved animals, from wood hummingbirds to pewter dragons.
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