Best Closet Swap 2006 | Buffalo Exchange | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer
The closet swap always seemed like such a good idea in theory. You grab all the stuff you'll never wear, such as those disastrous purchases, made on a whim, now living rent-free in the back of your walk-in. Your friends do the same, and everybody trades. One girl's trash is another girl's treasure, right? Wrong. Turns out nobody really wanted those lime green leopard-print pedal-pushers. But at the Buffalo Exchange, things are different. The salesmaidens (and misters) know good stuff when they see it, and they're happy to buy it from you. And you're happy to rummage through the well-filtered selections from other emptied Dallas closets. Great finds have been made at the Exchange, from a $30 Betsey Johnson sundress to just $5 for that vintage Alf tee. Would that all other swaps--spit, wives, whatever--were such positive experiences.
Your all-time favorite dress shirt is missing buttons or frayed at the collar and cuffs. Before it becomes Goodwill fodder, take it to Q Shirtmakers and have it cloned into custom-made duplicates. They do men's and women's shirts, suits and dresses and will find fabrics that don't itch, fade or fall apart. Custom clothing isn't out of the reach of the ordinary working stiff. In fact, the better made the garment is, the longer it will last. And in true shirts-off-their-back style, Q organizes a charity drive every year. For several weeks each summer they give discounts on custom-made shirts and suits when customers donate used ones. All donations go to Family Gateway, which helps people get back in the workforce. Wish more businesses were cut from that cloth.
Walk into the Village Shoe Service shop and you'll instantly know that Mr. B.H. Hawkins and his crew mean business--and they get plenty of it. Shoes, boots and sandals in various states of repair litter every corner awaiting "Hawk's" ministrations. He'll also work wonders on leather goods and luggage on the bench in back. Not only will Village Shoe fix your flats as good as new, they'll tell you straight up when you'd be better off finding a whole new pair, even if it costs them the job. Guess that's why it's called "service."
Need to party like it's 1969? This boutique is stuffed to the rafters with wearable vintage clothes reflecting the height of youthful fashion from the Laugh-In era. Go-go boots, macram belts, minidresses, floppy hats, dashikis, Nehru shirts, poly flares, mod sunglasses--this is where the wardrobe of the Woodstock generation waits to be recycled. Owners Debbie Cardenas and Leslie Daum cheerfully help customers navigate the crowded racks in their cozy shop and they might even unearth some special finds from the mysterious back room. Most items run in the under-$50 range (with vintage T-shirts going for as little as $6), and they make an effort not to stock only tiny sizes (thank you!). Accessorize your sock-it-to-me outfit with retro bracelets, hoop earrings and swingy bags. A fun place to shop? You bet your sweet bippy.
Held a couple of times a year (most recently at the end of August), the Fashion Industry Gallery Finale sale gathers under one roof loads of designer markdowns from Dallas' highest-end retailers, including Tootsies, Forty Five Ten, Rich Hippie, Krimson & Klover, Turtletique, La Femme Couture, Elements, Octane, Friction, Crimson in the City and others. For a $10 entry fee, shoppers can comb two floors of clothes (men's and women's), shoes, bags, jewelry and other desirables, all marked down at least 75 percent off the original price. We've found Carrie Bradshaw-worthy heels for $19, three-figure handbags for $50 or less and frou-frou lingerie at Target prices. To sustain shoppers' energy, they sell freshly made cookies (though the size 0 Highland Park ladies ignore those as they paw through boxes of $15 boots). Go and make a day of it. Then go home and play dress-up with the bargains.
Here's the deal: At most mall retailers the salespeople treat the average shopper like an interruption and an annoyance. But at Nordstrom they not only try to find what you want and make sure that it fits (we dig their giant dressing rooms too), they'll go several extra miles to make you a loyal customer. We recently went on a shoe expedition. Dillard's and Foley's were hot as saunas. Neiman's never managed even a "May we help you?" so we trotted down to the competition. There, a sweet gal in the shoe department apologized for not carrying the brand and style we wanted, but she then made some calls and found us the store that did and made sure they had our size and would hold it for us. Whether you buy a lipstick or a chaise longue, you'll get a handwritten thank-you note from the Nordstrom employee who sold it to you. Amazing.
It's not easy to get into the prosaic strip mall across from Mockingbird Station. Traffic is heavy, the driveway narrow and the stoplight fleeting. Even once you're there, it would be easy to miss the narrow storefront tucked into the corner under the shadow of the stairs. If you persist, though, your wardrobe will thank you. The friendly Mr. Wong and his staff at Art Tailor are magicians with a needle, whether you need a same-day hem or a custom suit from scratch. They'll fix your buttons so you can keep that belly in or let out your waistband so your gut can roam free, all at rates so reasonable you'll almost go out of your way to buy the wrong size.
There can't be a much more ringing endorsement of a wig shop than seeing autographed photos of drag queens adorning the entryway. That is exactly what you find as you cross the portal of Lemmon Beauty Supply. Tucked away in a decidedly unglamorous strip center at Lemmon and Wycliff, this shop is nicknamed "Kentucky Fried Wigs" in a nod to the KFC that anchors the center. Packed inside the tiny emporium, stacked floor to ceiling along every wall, is a vast array of false fabulosity: Every conceivable style of wig, fall, switch, chignon, ponytail and braid. Craving a high Dolly Parton 'do? No prob. Britney Spears pigtails? Check. Can't live without a fuchsia page-boy? Gotcha covered. From synthetic designs to natural-looking human hair creations, no style is left out. Custom styling is available. And check out the 99-cent eyelashes and the array of crowns and tiaras. Love the beehives and the bling.
Are there times when you sit pondering what to do with this cow skull you found out in the field? Well, the answer is this little nook at the zoo. The Nature Exchange, located in the Lacerte Family Children's Zoo, is a trading post for items you find in nature. And that tire in the Trinity doesn't count. From interesting fossil finds to everyday pine cones, you take your items in, the experts educate you on your find and then you get points toward another item in the store. And get this, they are so committed to the educational value of their program, they won't even take money for their stuff. That's conviction. But before you grab that road kill to tote in, check out their trading guidelines first. Ya gotta draw the line somewhere.
What do babies, bikers and brides have in common? They all can get apparel personalized at Keep U-N Stitches in Casa Linda. Owner Gina Maria Volpe, in business since 1997, and her two assistants can stitch everything from ladybug designs on babies' bibs and diaper covers to bikers' and rock bands' "sometimes unmentionable" logos on their shirts and caps. They'll also add special motifs to bridal lingerie. Hey, they'll even add fancy stitchery to coffin linings. Now that's going underground for business.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of