Neighborhood Watch looks for Philly's most fashionable. This week, Kala switches it up by pointing her camera toward Old City's sexiest boutiques.
Interviewing Philly residents about where they like to buy their clothes is interesting enough, but too often do we neglect the actual aesthetic experience
of shopping. The way a store looks has a profound effect on how we perceive its wares, as well as the way we feel as we buy. Not to mention that store owners spend a boatload of time and money furnishing their spaces.
Old City is packed with charming boutiques that do more than just display clothes they exude serious personality
. Each of these clothing stores (and one breathtaking furniture store) is like each of your closest friends they have distinctive character traits, and you want to spend as much time with them as possible.
: The Wild, Quirky Friend
Smak Parlour (219 Market St.) is pink. Very pink. The colorful façade of the building stands out against the brick and siding of its neighbors, and the well-dressed mannequins and baubles in the windows draw in passersby. Inside, it's vintage shabby-chic through a Pepto Bismol filter, in the best possible way. The rainbow beaded chandeliers, custard-colored chests of drawers, and randomly interspersed lawn flamingos give off what owner Katie Loftus
calls an "edgy, girly, punky" vibe. You'll find adorable dresses (many designed by store owners) and standout jewelry here, as well as an entire section of books and funky gifts.
Vagabond: The Simply Chic Friend
Vagabond (37 N. Third St.) with its heavy, knotted wood flooring (it creaks as you walk across), benches loaded with folded sweaters, exposed brick, and tree stumps as shoe displays is reminiscent of a cozy, yet trendy cabin in the woods. Crates full of colorful yarn are stacked against a wall, and a nondescript chalkboard boasts "Vintage" in script. Subtle displays of delicate charms on chains and gauzy blouses line the walls and make Vagabond the perfect place to stop in for a unique yet understated cocktail dress or pair of shoes.
J. Karma Boutique
: The Well-Traveled Fashionista
The window displays of J. Karma (60-62 N. Third St.) are arranged in the colors of France's flag. The interior displays are adorned with iron Buddha statuettes and aluminum bird cages and watering cans straight of an English garden. The overall effect is that you've just stepped into the storage closet of an international collector. The space is clean and open, with lovely displays of jewelry, bags and shoes ranging from conservative to statement-making.
: The Artistic Hipster Friend
Sugarcube (124 N. Third St.) is part male/female clothing store, part art gallery. At least in theory. Glowing, white geometric shapes that look like, well, cubes of sugar hang above the cash register, behind which hang minimalist framed photos. Walk past the display of bicycles and motorcycles and make your way back to the dressing rooms, where a chandelier made of bone hangs (it matches the antlers on the brick walls). The store boasts an impressive array of clothing, hats, bags and jewelry for girls and guys, but you won't be able to shake the feeling that Sugarcube is little more than a welcoming, interesting, and well-decorated closet.
: The Retro-Glamorous One (a.k.a. The One With the Nicest Apartment)
Shopping at Jonathan Adler (33 N. Third St.), unless you are prepared to buy, will make you feel simultaneously elated that you've stopped in, and depressed that your living space will never be as fabulous. Everything inside is bright, bold, and breathtaking. From the geometric-patterned wall hangings and comforters to the overwhelmingly colorful wallpaper and pillows, you'll wish you could move in. Or at least find a friend with a house as hip where you could crash.