Best Of :: Shopping & Services
That software you bought last year so you could learn a little conversational Spanish held so much promise, but here you are ... still struggling to figure out how to gender nouns and when to roll your Rs. That's because language acquisition doesn't really work that way. A computer can help you with rote repetition and memorization, but can never take the place of interaction. Full immersion in a foreign language is how you really get the bilingual ball rolling. It's a lot like diving into a pool to learn to swim, with context and social cues as your life preservers. Spanish House is a full-immersion language school founded locally by a pair of teachers. It offers nine graduated levels of group and individual classes so you can aprender Español on the double. Classes are small and informal and teachers are trained educators and native Spanish speakers. Spanish House also offers weekly lessons for children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, plus a day care, preschool and elementary school — we know little ones that deftly back-talk in two languages after just a few semesters of Spanish House instruction.
A well-run boutique needs a welcoming atmosphere, trendy clothes and pristine changing rooms. Oh, and booze. Rio Ritz has all of this in spades. Earlier this year, Thais Moses took her online shop and moved into an old house in Uptown. You'd be hard-pressed to find something with a price tag upward of $50 in her well-curated shop. It's a one-stop shop for an outfit or a sparkly accessory for a night out. When you walk through the doors, you're greeted with a friendly smile from the shop girls and a freshly poured mimosa. Even the most apprehensive shopper is bound to enjoy the experience of spending a minute perusing the racks in this quaint, stress-free setting. No shopping mall required.
At first glance Ross at Peak Thrift Store looks like the kind of place that is too dusty and cluttered to even bother with, especially for those of us who aren't "extreme thrifters." The space is a little stuffy and unorganized, but there are plenty of treasures hiding behind those piles of old magazines. It's true that most of the furniture here is fixer-upper material, but isn't that why you have all those damn DIY boards on Pinterest in the first place? You may want to take an allergy pill before you go, but all those bargains will be worth it.
We were heartbroken when Christine Visneau announced she'd be closing her Little Bean children's shop a few years back. And even though the shop was sold at the last minute and quickly reopened, Visneau's line of chic home-sewn children's clothing was no more. We really missed buying those vintage-inspired, beautifully constructed girl's dresses and infant rompers — and we also missed the compliments they garnered when worn by our kids or given at baby showers. But after a two-year hiatus, Visneau's seamstress days are back ... and this time, she's made togs for grown-ups, too. We love the easy lines and comfy fabrics she uses to construct on-trend tops, dresses and caftans in her East Dallas home. Her day job as a fashion stylist makes her one hell of an accessorizer, too, and Vee Caravan's online-only shop is stocked with eye-catching jewelry and other adornments. And much to our delight, the baby garments have returned as well — making this Dallas-based corner of the Internet a true one-stop shop.
There was a time when this little store off Henderson Avenue was Dallas fashion's best-kept secret. You could pop in and buy something cuter and cheaper than Urban Outfitters or TopShop and none of your friends would already own it. Now the secret's out. The clothes are still cute, but you might have to fight your way through SMU students and trendy moms. But it's still worth the trip, because if you're looking for a colorful kimono, a black jumpsuit or whatever the latest trend might be, they'll probably have it. And if you're lucky, it will be in your size.
"A lot of Highland Park moms," the clerk behind the counter at Gemma Collection replied when we asked who shopped at the University Park store. That's not a bad clientele to have when you're selling reasonably priced jewelry. The pieces in Gemma's large assortment of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc., are affordable – ranging from around $50 to less than $200 mostly – but they don't look cheap. (If your customers live in the Bubble, even the low-priced stuff had better be tasteful.) Gemma features several local designers – Chandler Nixon, Taylor Custer and Holly Zaves Designs, among others – so there are pieces to fit a range of tastes, from polished stone to dainty monogrammed items and religious icons.
Unique Tailor is a plain-Jane little storefront that stays out front of the competition with great service and very reasonable prices. It's all very democratic and unpretentious. Everybody getting their fat butt or their skinny butt stuck full of pins in front of everybody else, with that kind of mutual shoulder-shrugging look that says, "Yeah, we kid ourselves." Unique Tailor is especially good at salvaging that worn-torn garment you want to keep for no good reason, and they do well with fancy garments, too. They also know all about rush jobs, five-alarm emergencies and critical lists. The staff has doubled over the years, so even though they're busy, they're not slow.
The small shop on Henderson Avenue calls itself a "Guideshop." That's means it doesn't sell clothing, precisely. Or rather it does sell them, but just not there. Confusing. It's simple, really. You go into Bonobos Guideshop to see the clothes, try them on and get fitted. Then you tell them what you want and they then order them from Bonobos via the Internet. Bonobos, you see, is the largest apparel company ever launched online; the Guideshop is its storefront. (It's sort of like the relationship between Best Buy and Amazon, only deliberate.) Why bother going to the store only to order online? Well, first, do you really want to order a pair of pants or a shirt without trying it on? (If yes, we hate you and your perfectly proportioned body.) But most important is the fact that the Guideshop is staffed with friendly, fashionable people who will literally guide you to the right item and fit in everything from tweed slacks and golf-wear to tuxes, business suits and a wide range of styles in shirts, sweaters, outerwear and pants. It's all stylish, modern and tasteful for men of all ages (by that, we mean you won't look like a hipster or your dad, just good). Bonobos calls itself a place for men who hate to shop, but at the Guidepost you might actually enjoy yourself.
This local vintage store is known for many things: eclectic jewelry, taxidermy, antique furniture. But it's the clothing selection that really sets it apart from all other second-hand stores in town. Racks of beaded dresses, fur coats, vests, blouses, denim and more line the entrance of the 3,800-square-foot store. Not to mention, they have all the boots a boy or girl could dream of. Whether you're shopping for a friend's barbecue or a bridal shower, you'll be able to find a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing that'll set you apart.
Buffalo Exchange is a national thrift chain that mainly sells modern, designer-brand and trendy clothes for about half the original price. Shoppers can also try selling their old clothes back, garnering better sales if the clothes are in-season and in good condition. The stores vary widely from each other, with some offering better deals than others, but the Dallas spot is a winner. It's easy to get lost for hours shopping in the Greenville location. High-end designer brands are available, not exactly for cheap, but much cheaper than they were new, and the store carries plenty of trendy clothes that are actually dirt cheap — think Forever 21, but on sale. All of these clothes are geared for younger people on various budgets, and that's what makes the store such a fun, friendly place to shop. On Saturdays and Sundays, the friendly hang-out is crowded with shoppers in their 20s and 30s and salespeople who aren't shy about making conversation on topics that have nothing to do with retail.
The restaurants of the Bishop Arts District earned it a reputation as a hotspot, but that's no reason to overlook the shops that fill many of the Oak Cliff neighborhood's storefronts. Nearly every store lining Bishop Avenue and 7th Street is at least worth peering into from the sidewalk. But if your wardrobe needs refreshing, you'll want to pop into Strut. The selection isn't huge, but the prices are right and they've got both the staples and the trends, from casual blouses and sleeveless tops to numbers perfect for a night out.
Someone keeps telling us that sewing is not a talent; it's a skill that's learned with lots of practice. We hope that's true, because it's becoming pretty clear that we were not blessed with an innate ability to load a bobbin or sew a straight line. And man, we need to know how to sew — clothes aren't made to hold up forever anymore and if we could fix the shoulder seam on that Forever 21 blouse on the fly, we'd be so ahead of the game. Michelle Kitto's Urban Spools wants to get us there — it's a veritable wonderland for beginner sewers, perfect for the under-confident newbie. Not only is there a range of classes for every skill level, but Kitto offers monthly "Sew"-cials, where those of us struggling to complete projects or thread needles can bring our machines and enlist the assistance of sewing pros and their seam rippers. One day, we'll spread our seamstress wings and fly, but for now, we'll take the help. Check the online calendar to RSVP or drop in and check out the inspiring collection of fabric and patterns always in stock.