BEST WOMEN'S CLOTHING ON YOUR SUGAR DADDY'S AMEX 2013 | Elements | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer



Curse you, Elements, for selling exciting, flattering looks by hard-to-find designers. And double curses for knowing exactly what from those collections would look perfect for exactly the right occasion. You're like ensemble wizards peddling thread-stitched wishes and you've cast a couture spell. From limited-run coats and dresses to decadent accessories, Elements keeps it pulled together showing designers from Australia, Europe and a few American cities, Dallas included. Well-ordered and affectionately displayed, there's a calming feeling when you step into the shop. That peaceful luxury only intensifies when those shop gals break down exactly what looks good on you — trust us, you'll want to take notes. You'll also want to take copies of your receipts to your accountant, just in case these investments are tax deductible.

Sure, a million places offer blowouts and there's a nail salon on every corner, but why would you go to those spots when you could sit in empowered style at Studio 410? They specialize in taming down unruly, wild hair into sleek modern styles through cuts and color, but they also turn out specialty do's, like killer beehives and blowouts that won't leave you looking like a pageant queen. Tweak that style out further with a set of specialty-designed art nails and clear your head in the musical glow of Beyoncé hits, a cornerstone of Studio 410's backtrack. The shop's spirit animal, Miriam Ortega, is street fashion in motion, so pick her brain on ideas for gussying up your everyday look. (Spoiler alert: It might involve false eyelashes. Double Spoiler Alert: We love false eyelashes.)

It's big, and isn't that all that matters? Well, it's comfortable and easy to find, and it's ready to fill your needs at any hour. Plus, the staff is nice. And other penis puns. The three Dallas New Fine Arts locations (and their sister stores Paris Bookstore and the gay-friendly New Fine Arts Alternatives adjacent to the Mockingbird Lane store) pack an impressive array of toys, lubes and DVDs (which people who haven't heard of the Internet still buy, apparently). They also have private viewing booths with dollar-fed previews, locking doors and couches that are surprisingly clean. There are even smoking rooms in case you and whoever accompanies you need a cigarette after you get done ... um, previewing a title.

Dallas' best-kept shopping secret is perched atop Bolsa. The charming little millinery boutique is the last of its kind, harkening back to an era when folks dressed to leave their homes and hats were staples rather than luxuries. House of MacGregor is the hand-sewn brainchild of Cassie MacGregor, a sparkly eyed girl with a massive smile who's determined to beautify the world around her, one hat at a time. She studied her niche textile path in New York, working with designers and creating her own looks. When she moved back to Dallas five years ago, she took the plunge and opened Dallas' only shop working exclusively with hats. Now this adorable atelier is a mandatory visit for any discerning Derby-goer, but it's also the perfect spot for everyday retail therapy. Sure, you can buy any hat in the shop and Mrs. MacGregor will size it for you, but she'll also design your new look from scratch if you're searching for something uniquely you. Call ahead, book a visit, then celebrate life's excesses through headgear.

Bishop Arts, Bolsa, West Davis Street, the Kessler, all that very successful activity in North Oak Cliff didn't just happen by accident, nor did it happen because of one guy by any means, but if you had to pick somebody who was there at the beginning, it would be David Spence. In 1995 Spence, a lawyer, left a career in nonprofit community development to buy and save aging structures that everybody else assumed were just food for bulldozers. Over time he showed he could not only rescue old apartment and commercial buildings from the wrecking ball but turn a profit in the process. His example left footprints for other investors to follow in, and they have, with splendid results.

Courtesy of Richardson Bike Mart

Good chance you're not going to ride that new bike for long, that it'll be collecting dust or clothes hangers in a couple of months. The folks at Richardson Bike Mart won't acknowledge that — they're too encouraging, too nice, too hopeful, which we thought was outlawed last decade — but they seem to intuit it, because they never steer to equipment you don't need or can't afford. They bring your bike to you, whether it's a $500 Trek Hybrid Shirt-Hanger or a $5,000 Cervelo Garage-Wall-Art, and they match it with only the accessories you need to keep you safe, and, against all odds, to keep you riding.

Deep Ellum's lovely little yoga studio, tucked inside the Life In Deep Ellum building, made the decision this year to go donation-only. The suggested donation is around 10 bucks, but nobody's turned away; SYP is about promoting access to the practice of yoga, regardless of income level, physical condition or ability to smile and say "om" while bending your spine in ways you never imagined it would go. The environment is mellow, friendly and kind, a nice antidote to the packs of stressed-out, pinched-face Lululemon wearers you might find Uptown. Try the Super Vinyl class for the most kickin' yoga-doing soundtrack in town.

If you're like most American men, your closet is a rough sea of mediocrity, filled with sale-rack specials and XXL charity-walk T-shirts. In there somewhere, jutting from the service like a life raft, is (or should be) that one piece you splurged on: timeless, perfectly fitting and worn every time someone dies. It is (or should be) from Billy Reid. The Highland Park outpost is small and tightly curated, but you'll still find yourself lugging nine things into the dressing room. The selection is on-trend but muted, so no one will accuse you of trying too hard. It's expensive — we're talking $150-plus for a shirt — but the clothes are timeless both in style and construction, and you'll be relying on them for years.

In the market for a new pair of specs? Check out this Greenville Avenue eyewear shop, where friendly owner Arman will take one look at you and present a selection of frames to perfectly suit your face — and his expertise will likely be appreciated, as the store has no less than one zillion options, whether you're looking for some funky cat-eye frames or a classic horn-rimmed setup. He's a hell of a wheeler-dealer, too, meaning you'll always walk out feeling like you got a sweet deal. Payrite also does fast and affordable repair jobs, whether you bought your glasses there or not, and they'll even outfit vintage frames with your prescription.

Just try to resist the siren song of the Nordstrom shoe department when strolling through NorthPark Center. We challenge you. When there's serious footwear-shopping to be done, the iconic department store is the first place we head for the unbeatable selection, whether you're in the market for a fresh pair of Toms or just want to drool over the never-gonna-afford-them Louboutins. The extremely liberal return policy doesn't hurt matters, either, nor does the top-notch customer service.

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