Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Style insider: Bristol's best boutiques

This is the very first of a feature we hope will become a regular on Chic & Cheerful. Style insider looks at your favourite places to find fashion up and down the country. First up, Martha Cliff has put together an amazing guide on where to find the best fashion in Bristol - let us know what you think!

Ahh, Christmas shopping. If you're anything like me, you've probably found yourself drowning your sorrows with a glass of mulled wine and watch old re-runs of the Vicar of Dibley rather than venturing out into the frozen landscape and traipsing around B&Q for a nail gun for your dad.

The West Country certainly does not carry with it connotations of cosmopolitan heaven, but, as I found on a recent flurry around Bristol’s boutique scene, it has a little more on offer than scrumpy cider and cream teas.
It's not a maze in Maze (and there aren't any terrible puns either)
Located in the affluent area of Clifton, Maze is one of those shops you wouldn’t dare approach if you had just eaten a sticky jam doughnut.

Offering a glorious collection of designer names including Joseph, French Connection and Day Birger et Mikkelsen, its light and airy spaces could be compared with some of London’s tip top shops.

Hannah Holloway, Maze’s owner, assured me that although it all looks very London chic, Maze is more down to earth, “We sell future classics that are made to be worn and loved, Maze customers want to be fashionable without being fashion victims. It's not about being a slave to fashion, but about what looks great and feels right.”

26-28 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4DS, mazeclothing.co.uk

The kitsch interior at ShOp
The name 'ShOp' sounds as inspiring as your local Tesco express but this is one not to judge by its cover, so to speak.

Tucked away in the Christmas steps the ShOp is an Aladdin’s cave of all things vintage, bursting at the seams with all sorts of curious objects for you to spend hours appreciating (or trying to figure out what they are).

It also provides guilt free shopping: the ShOp puts all profits back into community arts projects.

Jayne, ShOp’s owner has a passion for vintage clothing - and not just because of its style credibility, “We believe vintage clothing, by being second-hand, is a more ethical option to the high street. Vintage pieces are one-offs and often the reference point for catwalk trends; you can be fashion-forward without comprising your morals or your bank balance.”

ShOp provides free tea and cake daily so if the stress of Christmas shopping is all getting too much, you know where to head for some yummy treats.

19, Christmas Steps, Bristol, BS1 5BS, shoptheshop.co.uk

Heavenly: 18 boutique, Bristol
18 is just a hop, skip and jump away from its sister store Maze in Clifton Village. You can find yourself in rather a lot more of a tizzy over what to buy in 18 than Maze: it's not just a closet full of clothes, but is also a concept store where everything is for sale - from the lovely Miller Harris candles to the antique French and Swedish furniture.

As well as being style conscious, 18 has a moral conscience too: “We favour a lot of environmentally conscious brands in 18," says Hannah Holloway. "Especially those who produce locally, supporting British industry, using vegetable dyes and natural processes.”

It’s like having the most delicious cake and then being told it’s fat free: you can buy the jacket and feel like you’ve just done a little good in the world. Guilt free shopping heaven.

18 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4DS, 18themall.co.uk

You won't find scraps for sale at Rag trade!
Rag trade
One thing you can be sure about in this charming little boutique is that they are certainly not selling old rags.

Listed as Bristol’s best vintage shop, Rag trade acts as a bring and buy store where customers receive 50% of the profits for the clothes they bring in. Perfect if you're in need of some extra pennies!

Rag trade operates around the idea of sustainability in clothing and, speaking to owner Alison Taylor, it’s clear that she wants pieces that are going to last, “I have a huge problem with Primark, those clothes don’t last. I love a real mix of labels, I truly believe in mixing it up.”

If you just have to have that dream dress for your Christmas party and need a little extra wardrobe space, Rag trade is the place to go.

2 Upper Maudlin Street, Bristol, BS2 8DJ, ragtradeboutique.co.uk

Vintage tie anyone?
Oxfam Boutique
I have to say, charity shops are not my forte. I always try to be one of those people who find amazing things to give a new life to but, let’s face it, charity shopping can be kind of tedious at times.

But, saying that, I could spend hours in Bristol's Oxfam Boutique. I'm pretty sure if it was in Knightsbridge, people would call it luxurious vintage and stick a £100 price tag on it. But this boutique is as reasonably priced as any Oxfam shop.

Just think of the most brilliant dressing up box any of your friends had when you were a kid - but beautifully laid out and carefully displayed. I find I’m always much more adventurous in this shop because you have such fun trying items on and they’re so cheap that even if you wouldn’t usually buy them you can afford to do so.

If you wound up with a serious fashion follower as your secret Santa this year, then hop down to Oxfam and buy a silk scarf and pass it off as vintage couture darling!

77 Park Street Bristol, BS1 5PF

Do you have a style destination to share? Send us an email at thechicandcheerful@gmail.com and you could appear on Chic & Cheerful!

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