A recent expedition in search of some comfortable sandals uncovered something that was otherwise unavailable elsewhere: a sharp-looking new design from Ecco, a British company that specializes in shoes made to be walked in. (Imagine that: women's shoes that are meant to be walked in for sale, here in Dallas!) The helpful salesman said the shipment was brand-new and in the store because this is the place where Dillard's tests new designs. Think of it as a year-round Detroit Auto Show for feet: If a design goes over well here, Dillard's will sell it at all of its stores nationwide. All this means that Dallas women can go to Dillard's, buy the latest design and actually help set a national trend. Oh, what fun!
Stuck in between a Kroger food store and a Mama's Pizza, the adventurous can pick up a little Armani sweater for a fraction of the original price. Sometimes, the garment hasn't even been worn. The owners of this place have a good eye. They arrange sleek threads in a way that even the not particularly skillful shopper can spot a tailored deal.

Let's get right to the point. You will find no Escada here. For those of us who have tired of that Dallas (think Highland Park) look--brightly colored suit, big hair--we want to commend any retailer who has tried to inject some style into the Dallas fashionista's mindset. At the 8,000-square-foot store, about one quarter of which is devoted to women's designer ready-to-wear lines, you'll find garments produced by Marc Jacobs, Viktor and Rolf, Joseph and Helmut Lang. The financially unendowed can pick up a T-shirt for $30, while those whose fortunes remain intact can find cashmere coats for more than a grand. The store is expanding its shoe selections but right now carries Alaia.

Walk into this 6,000-square-foot mecca to good men's design with no particular longing to keep your billfold intact. For $1,600, you can get yourself in head-to-toe (we're talking shoes, too) Ermenegildo Zegna, the store's top-of-the line Italian designer who is based in Milan. For the younger man without so much cash on hand, the store has off-the-rack merchandise starting at $600. Either way, you'll walk out a better-dressed and (with the store's tailor who boasts 20 years' experience) better-fitted man than you went in.

One client calls it "a party every time you go." This hip salon, which recently moved to a new location, offers a calm, relaxing atmosphere and never a bad haircut. The stylists work with long- and short-haired patrons to get the best fit even if you don't want to go with the most extreme look of the day.
Forget the $45 styling jobs. The $12-$22 cuts at this Park Cities mainstay are sharp enough for the Perots, Hunts and Meyersons, so why not for the junior exec who needs a weekly trim, or out-of-work dotcommer who needs a real job? In business since 1972, the shop's 15 barbers offer a dry clipper cut for $12, a layered cut for $18 or a shampoo and cut for $22. "Doctors, lawyers, real estate people, we have a variety," says barber Keith Gibson. As with shops of old, they have the revolving pole, but alas, no straight-razor shaves. Culwell's staff hung up the straight razor in the '80s for health reasons. These days they do it with injector blades.

It's hot in Dallas. Duh. And, even running from air conditioner to air conditioner, it's still tough to beat the heat. Best way? Shave your head. This is good for the ladies, too. We hear the Sinead O'Connor look is making a comeback. When you get around to it, make sure to stop by the Lakewood Barbershop, a throwback to the days when your dad used to drag you to chop your mullet. They'll treat you like a king, lather up your head and even shave your noggin with a straight razor if you like. Plus, for no extra charge, they'll make sure your beard matches up. No upper-lip hair for the gals.
This is a fine, folksy-eclectic gift store in the thriving Knox-Henderson area. Most of everything is in pastels or unadorned metals. Be sure to check out the store's unusual chess, backgammon and Chinese checkers sets, plus oddball items like a brightly colored grandfather clock (or was that a grandmother clock?) and dressing-room mirrors bordered by hippie slogans. It's a good place to shop if you want to add life to a dull apartment or house. Not to say your taste in design is lacking. Heavens, no. But, eh, about that poster of The Rock in your living room...

Why not dump the SUV (where's the "sport," anyway?) and buy a scooter? No sudden rollovers. No history of tread separation. No sneering looks or cards on your windshield asking, "Why is your vehicle so big?" or unwanted stickers on your bumper saying, "I'm ruining the planet, ask me how!" Stop the highway arms race and hop on a cool, Euro, high-mileage Aprilia scooter, the modern-day Vespa. Those weird Italian clothes are strictly optional. This shop carries five models, in retro and sports styles, starting at $2,600.
Looking for a place where a friendly staff actually reads the books they sell and will suggest something other than what's on The New York Times' best-seller list? Maxwell Books has been fighting the good fight against the warehouse chain stores and cluttered used book places since 1986 and is alive and doing quite well, thanks. The selection of hardbacks, paperbacks and children's books is good, and if they don't have exactly what you're looking for, they'll order it and give you a call in a couple of days. Check the shelves for personal notes written by staffers who critique many of the books in stock. You can also choose from a good selection of magazines and greeting cards. And watch the store's schedule of visiting authors who stop in to speak, read from their works and sign autographs. Additionally, you can buy gift certificates that will be honored at other independent stores throughout the country.

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