Neighborhood boutiques complement regional retail centers, offering the latest fashions, elegant accessories, one-of-a-kind gifts and plenty of service.
Cherry Creek Shopping Center always places among Denver’s top 10 attractions, but it isn’t the only retail game in town. A number of unique boutiques flourish in The Mile High City, adding spice to the standard fare offered at regional shopping malls in all seven Metro Denver counties. Work your way through these local favorites, starting Downtown and radiating outwards through some of Denver's oldest neighborhoods. Each has enough one-of-a-kind shopping opportunities to qualify as an outing, especially when combined with a little sightseeing and a quick meal at a nearby bistro.
Start Downtown at Rockmount Ranch Wear. This landmark at 1626 Wazee Street has been making Western wear in Denver since before the streets were paved, and it has survived because a well-made Western shirt is always a joy to find. Fans will do anything to get one with a little pizzazz — just ask Ralph Lauren, Sting, John Travolta or any of the other celebrities who venture into Denver's old warehouse district for Rhinestone Cowboy couture served up Rockmount style.
Next, head to Larimer Square for one full block of distinctive shops housed in well-preserved historic buildings. At Cry Baby Ranch, you'll find a young, hip version of the West, with gear in all price ranges that shares nothing more than a nostalgic country theme. Got $1,300? Pull on a pair of Liberty Boot Company's Sixties Cowgirl Boots, a knee-high expanse of smooth black leather covered with hand-stitched white flower cutouts. If $5 is more in line with your budget, consider a box of Cowboy Adhesive Bandages, 15 Texas-size strips decorated with images of horseshoes and cacti. It's easy to kill an hour or two browsing the books, furniture, hats, boots, t-shirts, accessories and clothing for men, women and children. Just being in the store makes us feel happy and a little bit wholesome.
Next up is M.W. Reynolds, an elegant space with exposed brick and metal-pipe fixtures that's stocked to the gills with goods for the modern sportsman. Outdoorsy types and city slickers alike will get lost in this shop while admiring buttery-leather moto jackets, fine shaving creams and colognes, rugged canvas briefcases, hand-crafted shotguns and best-in-class fly-fishing tackle and apparel.
Now break for a hot tea, snack and the discovery of your next favorite novel at the Tattered Cover Book Store, one of the city's most famous and beloved destinations. This independent community bookstore launched in 1974 and today offers an extensive selection of titles. Known for its cozy setting, full of comfy chairs and good reading lamps, some shoppers stay for hours - and they are most welcome to do so.
Highlands and Sunnyside
To paraphrase Horace Greeley, go west young shopper, to the other side of Interstate 25, where you'll find a handful of emerging neighborhoods and the creative entrepreneurs who thrive there. In the Highlands neighborhood, home of Denver's early-day Little Italy, budding businesses are thriving in century-old buildings, making this district a definitively hip, happening place.
Head to Highlands Square, a quaint spot that's overflowing with shopping options, and check out Strut, which carries shoes, shoes and more shoes. Its merchandise is targeted to the young artistic pioneers who can afford to pay several hundred dollars for the perfect imported ballet flat, strappy wedge sandal or ankle bootie.
Now that you've got your walking shoes, stroll down to LoHi for a visit to Inspyre Boutique, where you'll find style-forward and budget-conscious fashion and accessories, all at under $100. That's right — nothing in the store costs more than a cool $100.
Another option is to head deeper into the Highlands and continue on to the charming Sunnyside neighborhood where you'll find Midnight Rambler Boutique. It dubs itself as a "rock ‘n' roll, bohemian-chic boutique selling unique women's clothing and gift items." Not sure what you're looking for? Stylists will help you find those perfect items.
SOUTH PEARL AND SOUTH GAYLORD
Yoga mamas and citizens of the world beat a path to 5 Green Boxes in the South Pearl district. It stocks hard-to-find trinkets like Chinese paper wallets and patterned Hot Sox, along with queen-of-the-rodeo belt buckles and an ever-changing collection of handmade, natural-fiber blouses, skirts and drawstring pants. A furniture store by the same name has been added a block away, carrying equally funky household accessories.
It's rare for a secondhand store to be named one of the most fasionable spots in town, but Common Threads pulls it off by keenly selecting designer labels for its consignment racks. If you've ever lusted after a Prada bag or Versace scarf but thought you'd never see the day, this might be your chance. Alongside couture designers are more modest labels like Tory Burch, Joie, Free People, Plenty, or even the occasional H&M or J. Crew item.
If "Fashionista" is your middle name, you won't want to miss Barbara & Company. In Barbara & Company's airy, 3,000-square-foot store, you'll find one of Denver's best collections of well-merchandised, feminine clothing. Lines are trendy and international — funky patterns from Aventures des Toiles in Paris, pants from Equestrian Designs, Burning Torch jackets and tops, casual wear from Michael Stars and Sarah Pacini's sexy Belgian knits. Items in every shade of the rainbow line the walls of this cavernous store.
CHERRY CREEK NORTH
The shops at Cherry Creek North are in a league of their own. In fact, you'll need a full day to explore the boutiques that cover more than 20 city blocks. Start with MAX for a tight selection of women's clothing, shoes, jewelry and purses from international designers. Look for Dries Van Noten, Chloe, Isabel Marant, Nina Ricci, Proenza Schouler, Saint Laurent and Thakoon. Owner Max Martinez throws a mean party every year for the glitterati who love to pose in his glamorous clothes. The store throws off the same tres chic vibe, with seriously svelte mannequins wearing lots of short, tight black garments.
Next stop is Lawrence Covell. This Italian boutique is the main course, a little slice of paradiso at the core of trendy Cherry Creek North. Cathy and Lawrence Covell have operated the men's and women's store for decades, raising their son on buying trips to the old country. Now he's running the store with them, stepping with ease into his father's Italian loafers. Tailored jackets, trousers and skirts in the world's most luscious fabrics line the walls. Expect to pay for the luxury, but plan to wear the garments — and feel like Lauren Bacall and Bogey as you do — forever.
Founded in 1997 by two sisters, SOL is one of the cornerstones of Cherry Creek North. With its romantic, sexy, oh-so-feminine collection of lingerie including pajamas, loungewear, robes, camisoles, bras and panties, SOL's ultra-high-end designers include Hanky Panky, Marie Jo, Prima Donna, Natori, Fernando Sanchez, as well as other distinctive pieces designed exclusively for SOL. The shop frequently hosts lingerie showings.
For fine men's clothing from American designers and classic European houses, visit Andrisen Morton. Dave Morton and Craig Andrisen had been outfitting Denver bankers and lawyers for years from their shop in the heart of Downtown's Financial District when an opportunity came along to snag a storefront in posh Cherry Creek. Loyal customers come for the deep selection of accessible designer lines.
ART DISTRICT ON SANTA FE
Just minutes from downtown, this multicultural neighborhood features the largest concentration of art galleries (more than 60!) in Denver. The Art District on Santa Fe hosts the very popular First Friday Art Walk (5-9 p.m. monthly), when the galleries have an open house-ambiance to promote their contemporary, emerging and traditional art to crowds of mingling and mixing people.
While gallery hopping, check out John Fielders' Colorado. Colorado's renowned nature photographer has been selling his fine art nature photographs for 25 years. At his gallery's location on Santa Fe Drive, the store is a John Fielder oasis, where the photographer interacts with his patrons, teaching his art and giving lectures.
Also check out Space Gallery, one of the most expertly curated galleries in the neighborhood in an airy, well-lit venue. Access Gallery is another great stop, featuring works by artists with disabilities. Book lovers won’t want to miss Abecedarian Gallery and its focus on book arts and printmaking.
There are also two excellent vintage shops in the Art District on Santa Fe: Garage Vintage specializes in mid-century modern furniture and decor, plus a dash of industrial-chic, and Ninni & Foffa's is a charming little shop with farmhouse-style vintage furnishings and decor, clearly curated with love.