I know it has been quite a while since I last wrote. This has been a strange and complicated year and although I have written tons of blogs (and part of a book) in my head the last six months, I haven’t managed to find the time to get the words down on paper. So, to make up for my break, I am going to give you a blog that will help you step outside of the mall and into the amazing little stores that make Toronto so special.
Today, I am going to help you discover the best Toronto boutiques for you to shop in based on what mall stores you tend to frequent.
Knowing where to shop is half the battle so hopefully having a few more stores or brands in your repertoire will help cut down on your frustration of not knowing where to go, or worse, looking like a catalogue from the big box stores you buy all your clothes from.
So here we go!
If you like ________ store then try __________ boutique/brand.
If you like Theory – then try Grayes
Theory is known for it’s classic cuts, amazing materials and minimalist style. If that is your style then try the brand Grayes. Their blazer dress is one of my all time favourite pieces. All the pieces capsule perfectly and the quality is fantastic, especially at their price point. Not an online shopper? No problem, they have pop ups all the time.
If you like James Perse – then try Franc
You like James Perse because it washes amazing, feels like a dream and looks super cool. Those are the same reasons I like Franc. Only I like Franc’s price tag better. I also love that it is totally local and that they use bamboo in their tees. You may also recognize this brand from the winner of my favourite white tee.
If you like Loft – then try Smithery
It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Smithery. Sometimes I think I they are just a figment of my imagination since the whole company’s philosophy is so in line with my own. Why should you try Smithery if you usually head to Loft? You probably shop at Loft because it is casual, but still interesting. It has better, more current, styles than Gap and the quality is good too. Well, those are also true of Smithery, except you also have the benefit of walking away understanding your body type and how to dress it, you get your daily dose of self confidence and body positivity from the staff and you get to buy original amazing pieces that will make your friends ask you where you have been shopping.
If you like Banana Republic – then try Somewhere in Between
This is not necessarily true if you head to Banana for the Suiting, but if you head there for your casual pieces or your business casual then check out Somewhere in Between. You won’t need to fight for a change room or search your email for a 40% off coupon here. Also, unlike Banana, Somewhere in Between has an app called My Design that allows you to customize your clothes with a variety of styles and fabrics in dresses and tops.
If you like Aritzia – then try Thursday
Aritzia is a Canadian company, so when you shop there you are supporting local; however if you are interested in a more boutique experience, then try Thursday on Yonge. I never go in there without adding another piece to my wish list. The manage to bring in pieces that feel cool and effortless without being boring or generic. The also carry more shoes than Aritzia, so that wins them an extra point.
If you like Zara – then try Siistar
Zara is filled with fun fashion forward pieces that allow you to wear inexpensive little pieces of art. Unfortunately the store can be overwhelming for most non shoppers and the customer service is non existent. If you are looking to find cool pieces at great prices check out Siistar on Queen. There accessory section is one of the best in the city and they have Just Black denim in case you need a quick denim fix.
If you like Lululemon – then try Miik
I think Lululemon is so successful because it was the market leader in creating workout wear that felt like casual wear. Well, Miik one ups that. It creates pieces that are as comfortable as your workout gear that look dressy enough to wear to work. Their bamboo blazers are definitely one of my favourites. If you want to try them in person check out Logan and Finley and say “hi” to Julie for me.
If you like Browns – then try Heel Boy
Other than in department stores, I find the shoes in malls so boring! If you want a great selection of shoes step out into the fresh air and try Heel Boy on Queen. It is local and lovely. Your feet and style will thank you.
If you like Ted Baker – then try La Muse
Ted Baker makes beautiful dresses and blouses and suits. They really do make beautiful pieces; but if you want to find a store that won’t have you walking into work wearing the same thing as the person beside you, then try La Muse on Bayview. The owner fills the store with beautiful and interesting pieces that will definitely have you bookmarking the address for a second visit.
If you like foot locker – then try Groovy
Like I said, mall shoes are boring! Pop into Groovy on Queen or walk down the road to Get Outside. With the amount of time we spend in sneakers in Toronto, it only makes sense to invest in a good pair.
If you like M by mendocino – then try Zumel
M is filled with sexy, fun, inexpensive pieces. If you are looking to branch out from the ever popular M, try one of the two locations that Zumel has in Toronto. Whether it is a fun party dress or an interesting sweater you can find something here.
If you like Oak and Fort – then try Meg
I know that Oak and Fort is Canadian, but their clothes are made far away. Meg, on the other hand produces it’s clothes locally, is totally women run and the love is evident. The quality is great and the style is still as geometric and drapey as the Oak and Fort cuts.
If you like Massimo – then try Poa
I love Massimo Dutti. I really do. But I love Poa more. Catherine, the owner, is a as nice as she is beautiful. She recently opened a second location on Parliament that transfers you straight to Paris when you walk in. Just like Massimo, the clothes are made with high quality fabrics and the price points are great. If you are looking to add some French flair into your wardrobe, you should definitely stop in or make an appointment.
If you like Honey – then try PLRG
While I don’t make it into Honey very often, I know why people would want to go. It is a filled with sparkly Vegas appropriate dresses. If you are looking for a more subdued version try Poor Little Rich Girl on Yonge. It still have a great selection of dresses, but you won’t be shopping beside a 14 year old (hopefully).
It’s no secret that I’m not really a fan of Victoria’s Secret. Their marketing has always promoted dangerous and unrealistic expectations for women and even as a teenager I knew there was something wrong with a company using a women’s airbrushed body to sell things. It was part of the reason I majored in Sociology and Gender Studies at U of T (that is a different blog though). There are so many other options in Toronto for boutiques that do proper bra fittings in spaces that actually make you feel good about your body. Secret’s from your Sister is one. I also recommend Broad on the Danforth to any of my East end clients. It specializes in D+ bras.
If you like Eileen Fisher – then try Sympli
If you are into Eileen Fisher’s simple, casual and elegant basics then try Sympli on for size. While they don’t have a stand alone store in Toronto they do sell at quite a few retailers in and around Toronto. The pieces are designed and manufactured in Canada. Which for such an established brand is hard to come by!
If you like Club Monaco – then try Collab Collections
If you like Club Monaco then try popping into the little shop on Queen called Collab. The pieces are well made and have a great mix of current styles with a touch of edge.
If you like Addition Elle – then try Maurices
Okay so Maurice’s isn’t local, in fact the closest one to Toronto is Belleville or Georgetown, but I think that is what makes it great. Plus, the store sells sizes 2-24 in the same styles which automatically gets them extra points in my book. I just wish there were more local human sized boutiques in Toronto that I could recommend!
If you like Torrid – then try My Big Sisters Closet
One of the few stand alone above average boutiques in Toronto, My Big Sister’s Closet on Dundas is filled with flirty pieces that are as cute as they are reasonable. Their social is filled with real women in a variety of body shapes to let us see what they are actually going to look like on. If you can’t make it into the store they offer free shipping over $100 with free returns in store.
Those are the first ones that come to mind. If you have another store that you frequent that you would like to know it’s twin boutique option email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Instagram @your_shop_girl
p.s. Keep your eyes open for another blog I am drafting called “If you like this brand you’ll love this online store”