Finding the perfect outfit is rarely easy. But it helps if you can the perfect pieces first: the jeans that make your bum look fab, the skirt that swirls just enough, or the jacket that oh-so-casually hides arm flab.
We can't go into the dressing room with you -- and, face it, that'd be a little creepy, anyway -- but we can steer you in the right direction, no matter what you're trying to find.
When Levi Strauss went to California to be a miner, he definitely struck gold. Jeans are perhaps the most important staple in modern man's (and woman's) fashion diet. They look good with just about everything; they come in enough cuts and colors that you never get bored; and you can wear them to dinner, a movie, or the grocery store.
And with designer jeans a way of life, people's posteriors are looking pretty dang good. The only trick is finding your favorite brand. If you're a Joe's Jeans kind of gal, check out Shoppe (6150 Poplar, 682-1128). They also carry Paige Premium Denim (started by the woman who was the fit model for Sevens, Citizens, and Habitual, but more on those later).
Indigo (7509 Poplar, 755-6909) in Germantown's Saddle Creek carries an extensive collection of jeans including James, Citizens of Humanity, Rock & Republic, Habitual, and People's Liberation, as well as William Rast, the women's jean company started in part by Justin Timberlake.
Long-time local favorite Isabella (4615 Poplar, 683-3538) also has the blues with jeans by 7 for all Mankind, AG, True Religion, Chip & Pepper, and Goldsign. If you think the grass is greener with Grass jeans, Bella Pari (7990 Trinity Rd., 754-9400) has them, as well as Joe's. Miguela's (7509 Poplar, 737-0311; and 4615 Poplar, 682-6073) features 575 Denim, a line favored by Cameron Diaz, as well as J & Company and Tag.
Miguela's also recently started carrying men's clothes. If your guy wants Diesel jeans, try Lux (906 S. Cooper, 726-6600) in the Cooper-Young area. If he likes your designer jeans, send him to Lansky 126 (149 Union, 405-7625) for 7 for all Mankind, Citizens of Humanity, Rock & Republic, and True Religion brands, among other hipster-must-haves.
A PERFECT PAIR
Is this the Year of the Wedge or the Year of the Flat? Experts can debate which is our true sole mate, but one thing is for sure: So long, stilettos! We'll miss your spiky sexiness, but our toes -- sigh -- won't.
So where to go to get your shoe fix? Try Lola (2055 West, 624-5652) for Donald J. Pliner and Cole Haan. Or hit More Therapy (4615 Poplar, 682-2013), the relatively new extension of the popular Therapy store in Oxford, Mississippi. It carries cute shoes from Joey O and French Sole, as well as fun and funky ladies' clothes.
Or if you're looking for a shoe to wear with couture, go to Joseph (418 S. Grove Park Rd., 767-1609) to find the first names in footwear: Chloe, Monolo (Blahnik), Jimmy (Choo), Gucci, and Prada. There's a reason the adjective "well-heeled" came about.
You can't have the perfect outfit without the perfect accessories. Just think about pants without belts, necks without necklaces, or wrists without watches. We rest our case.
If you're looking for something to adorn a certain left-hand finger, the first stop should be Mednikow (474 Perkins Extd., 767-2100). Actually, that would be our first stop for many sparkly items, including jewelry by John Hardy, watches from David Yurman, or pearls from Mikimoto.
For daily-wear pieces that are by no means everyday, try Lost in Paradise (2869 Poplar, 257-3800). The store carries beautiful leather handbags by Tano and lots and lots of jewelry, including Watchcraft watches.
For costume jewelry, check out Francesca's Collection (7615 W. Farmington in Saddle Creek, 753-6847; and 4160 Merchants Park Circle at The Avenue Carriage Crossing, 861-3287) for trendy baubles. Or venture into import store Jun Lee (3397 Summer, 327-1822). Its exterior is not much to look at -- the windows are covered -- but once inside you'll see an amazing assortment of belts, scarves, evening bags, purses, and all sorts of costume jewelry.
FIT TO BE TIED
True confession: One of our favorite columnists is the Style Guy in GQ . It doesn't even matter that we can't put his helpful tips about flat-front pants versus pleated pants, or double-breasted suits versus single-breasted suits to work in our own closet.
If you can, however, you should visit the sharp-dressed fellows at Oak Hall (6150 Poplar, 761-3580) for Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni, Canali, and Oxxford, and the matching shoes to go with. Or try James Davis (400 Grove Park Rd., 767-4640) for Armani Collezioni and the most extensive collection of shirts, ties, and pocket squares in town. They have seemingly every color and cut under the sun, so no matter what color goes with your eyes, you can find it.
If you're downtown, try Shelton Clothiers (147 S. Main, 522-9995) for suitwear by Tallia and Canadian manufacturer S. Cohen. Or if your workplace is a little more hip and a little less buttoned up, try Bugatchi for men at Muse (517 S. Main; 526-8737).
Of course, men don't have the lock on suits. For a look that means business, but in an elegant and fashion-forward way, try Sloane (416 Perkins Rd. Extd., 761-4004) for Casch Copenhagen, Beauty Mark, Mason, and Teen Flo. At nearby James Davis, you can also find women's work essentials from Armani Collezioni and Robert Rodriguez.
You can also try Eve (4615 Poplar, 507-3597) for day and night looks from Milly and Nanette Lepore.
A FORMAL AFFAIR
Looking for something for a special occasion? Blu Champagne (117 Harbor Town, 528-1511; and 4615 Poplar, 683-0220) carries dresses from designer and former Memphian Ellis Dixon, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days' dress designer Dina Bar-el, and Vera Wang (enough said). Blu Champagne also carries out-on-the-town clothes from David Kahn, Sao Paulo, and Single. And if you're a junkie for Nicole Miller or Trina Turk, you have to go to Ella (3080 Poplar, 507-0507), where there's always something new. For those who love a good bargain (and who doesn't, really?), don't miss their seriously marked down sales. Call and ask to be put on the mailing list to be informed of sale dates. It's well worth it.
Still need something to work the red carpet? Oak Hall has a wonderful women's department with designs from Escada, Lela Rose, and Luca Luca. Eat your heart out, NYC.
We can admit it: We're not kids anymore. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't give your friends gifts every now and then to show them that you still care. The question is: what?
If you're closer friends than simply wine and flowers, check out Diane's (1581 Overton Park, 276-7515) for wonderful -- and functional -- art pieces. The Paper Garden & Monogram Shop (3092 Poplar, 323-2662) has an assortment of candles, picture frames, and sophisticated stationery. Nearby Mango Street Company (3029 Poplar, 323-4191) has luxurious bedding, especially for little ones, and decor, but also offers gifts that are just plain fun. For bedding that dreams are made of, visit Reverie Fine Linens & Down (6126 Poplar, 767-4400). Thread counts have never been higher, and sleepy Memphians have never had it so good. You'd also be remiss to think that Davis-Kidd Booksellers (387 Perkins Ext., 683-9801) is merely a bookstore. Not only do they have one of the city's busiest dining destinations with Bronte Bistro, they also carry great gifts, including the incredible smelling Votivo candle line.
The Stovall Collection (4615 Poplar, 767-8808) really shines with everything wedding related: the invitations, the thank-you notes, and bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts. But you don't have to be getting married -- or going to a wedding -- to appreciate their beautiful dinnerware, stationery, or desk accessories.
Another great gift destination is Carabella's (99 S. Second, 525-5500). Not only does it carry Memphis Mary, Memphis' signature spicy Bloody Mary mix, but also a sophisticated selection of everything you'd never expect in a downtown gift shop.
And if you are dead set on giving flowers, make sure to check out downtown's Gestures (523 S. Main, 525-4438). In addition to beautiful flowers and plants -- and customers can create their own arrangements -- Gestures has a wonderful collection of wining and dining accessories.
There's only one thing left to say: Happy shopping!
Doing the Mall Crawl
A guide to area malls and shopping centers.
The Avenue Carriage Crossing 4674 Merchants Park Circle (Collierville), 381-2769
Hickory Ridge Mall 6075 Winchester, 367-8045
Oak Court Mall 4465 Poplar, 681-0642
Raleigh Springs Mall 3384 Austin Peay, 388-4301
The Shops of Saddle Creek Poplar at W. Farmington (Germantown), 761-7604
Southland Mall 1215 Southland Mall, 346-7664
Wolfchase Galleria 2760 N. Germantown Parkway, 381-2769
Laurelwood Shopping Center 397 Perkins Road Extended, 794-6022
Village of Chickasaw Oaks 3092 Poplar, 794-6022
Regalia 6150 Poplar, 766-4274