Shopping Hot Spots
Santa Barbara has a stellar selection of shops for a wee town of 90,000. Women’s clothing is my area of expertise/addiction when it comes to shopping, so I’d like to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite retail haunts with my fellow shoppers out there.
DIANI is hands-down my top go-to boutique. Aside from the divine selection of clothes they carry (think lines like Elizabeth & James, Isabel Marant, Vanessa Bruno, Inhabit, Goldsign), the shop itself is a delight to browse through with its beach-y, tranquil atmosphere and quality mix of music on shuffle. And the staff couldn’t be nicer or more helpful — they’ll tell you if something is ill-fitting or just doesn’t suit you. It’s on the higher end but the selection is diverse enough to make it accessible for a range of budgets and their sale racks are bountiful. I’ve scored a few fabulous Hanii Y pieces at 80% off their original price. Talk about thrilling!
Some other independent boutiques that carry interesting lines and have a uniquely Santa Barbara flavor include the Wendy Foster stores. Wendy Foster is a Santa Barbara icon (her husband is Pierre Lafond, who started Santa Barbara Winery) and she has built a mini-empire of women’s clothing boutiques. They each have their own feel — the downtown Wendy Foster is my favorite for the lines they carry (Frye, J. Brand, Joie) and the vibe of the store. The Wendy Foster in Montecito’s upper village is much more upscale, Pierre Lafond Sportswear is casual as the name implies and Upstairs (literally up the stairs from those two) is one of my favorite places to shop for gifts with its delightful mix of notecards and paper goods, table wares and home accents. Located on Coast Village Road, Angel is the fifth store in the line-up and is similar to the State Street boutique.
Susan Pitcher is another dynamic fashion maven in town with her two Montecito boutiques, dressed and ready. I’d venture to say she’s curated the most daring, fashion-forward line-up. Dressed is the more “dressy,” high fashion of the two (Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, The Row), while ready is more accessible (3.1 Philip Lim, Twenty8Twelve, Haunt Hippie). They are neighboring shops so you must visit both if you’re in the ‘hood!
I know chain stores can be found everywhere but it’s all about the sales and the filter of local buyers. I’m a devoted Anthropologie gal, and I also frequent Nordstrom. I was very excited to learn that the Savvy department (2nd floor) at our Nordstrom recently incorporated via C offerings, adding brands like T by Alexander Wang, Milly and Rag & Bone to the mix. A much needed improvement to what was often a rather bland, hit-or-miss selection! Of course, Nordstrom’s shoe department can do no wrong. Saks Fifth Avenue is another department store worth perusing. In my opinion, it’s an under-shopped store which translates to excellent sale selections. I’ve walked out of there with Tory Burch, tibi and Milly dresses for under $50! Be warned, they close early (6pm every night but Friday, when they close at 7pm).
Consignment and vintage are not for everyone but they certainly are for me! I found a dreamy vintage 1970’s cream mink and leather coat at Renaissance Fine Consignments, and The Rack at the Music Academy of the West has even more fabulous vintage furs and gently worn designer clothes. The Closet is the best consignment shop in SB (brand new Rich & Skinny jeans with the Nordstrom tags still on for $30!). Lola Boutique is a new consignment shop I haven’t been to yet but is on my to-shop list!
Happy treasure hunting, my shopping comrades!