Best of San Francisco 2010: Fashion + Beauty


We’ve got Euro boutiques and bikini parties, stylist hand-me-downs and hidden spas, A-list colorists and heavenly facials, Brooks Brothers redux and on-the-go blow-drys. Here in San Francisco, skin deep never looked so good.

Hottest Hardware

With so many talented local jewelry designers, it's hard to pick a favorite, but Kate Ellen Metals always makes the list. From the self-taught metalsmith's sterling silver branch necklace with gold-fill bullets to her delicately hammered brass bracelets, the one-of-a-kind pieces are spontaneous and experimental in the best way. Her inaugural men's line features retro tie clips made from mangled brass tubing and cuff links of perforated sterling, redefining what it means to adorn ourselves. Available at Cocoon Day Spa, 330 First St., 415-777-0100,

Best Bet for Blonding

Foils are so 2009. If you're looking to lighten your hair, go for a subtle, sun-kissed look at Kim Vo Salon. Using a French technique called balayage, the Union Square salon—opened late last year by celeb stylist and Shear Genius judge Kim Vo—skips the foil and uses a hand-painted, freestyle process. This artistic approach, not offered at most salons, yields a soft, natural look. Sip wine and watch episodes of the show while you get goldened. 11 Tillman Pl., 415-421-0888,

Best Leather Fetish

Mulholland opened its business in San Francisco more than 20 years ago, but the luxury leather goods brand only recently set up its own storefront in the city. Located amid Union Square's upscale boutiques, the pocket-sized space is filled with supple, expertly crafted accessories. For work, tote a classic, pebble-grain briefcase; for play, pack up a deerskin duffel or golf bag. And, for that big game hunter in all of us, don't overlook the superlative field sport shell holder, which also doubles as an indestructible lunch box. 372 Sutter St., 415-544-9150,

Best Bikinis

Gather your girlfriends for a private bikini party at Mission swimwear staple Zoë Bikini. With curtains drawn and hostess-provided drinks in hand, partygoers can peruse colorful, custom-designed suits—whether it's a triangle top and a skimpy Brazilian bottom or a sexy push-up and boy shorts. All of Zoe's mix-and-match pieces are crafted to flatter chests and bottoms both big and small. The best part? For every pal who makes a purchase, you receive $15 toward your own suit. Now that's something to celebrate. 3386 18th St., 415-621-4551,

Best Shades

Make like Corey Hart and rock Rare Eyewear's vintage sunglasses day or night. The unique line stocks local boutiques like Harputs Market, Nomads and Villain's Vault with shades from the golden age of hipster fashion—the '60s, '70s and '80s. Expect a selection from a mostly European inventory that's timeless, not antiquated, like Ray-Ban's original Wayfarer in cool yellow tortoiseshell or a funky, geek-chic pair from Germany with rhinestones and clear lenses. 415-346-4111,

Best Secondhand

Bianca Starr recently introduced a new in-store concept that's sure to perk up your ears—a dedicated rack of clothing from a top SF stylist's own personal collection, on sale for you to grab. Think of it as having your own personal shopper. The hip secondhand store features a new stylist each month and celebrates with a first Friday party. The best part? Each piece is a steal—get Marc by Marc Jacobs, Nanette Lepore, Theory and more for well under $100. Make your way to the Mission boutique stat. 3552 20th St., 415-341-1020,

Best Online Shopping

Mission-based Bell Jar has been a staple on 16th Street since 2008. Now, thanks to its newly shoppable site, the boutique brings together the best of both worlds: impeccable, one-of-a-kind finds and the ease of online buying. Bell Jar's visionary, Sasha Darling, is a former art director and self-proclaimed purveyor of all things lovely. Darling travels the world to bring patrons the best in apparel, accessories and unlikely home goods, which are now conveniently available on Bell Jar's gorgeous little website. Though in-person trips are a must, at-work browsing certainly has its perks—especially on Monday afternoons. 3187 16th St., 415-626-1749,

Steamiest Spa

Step into the world's only indoor Tropical Rainforest spa treatment room at Tru, an oasis—founded by former Bliss director Craig Fossella—in the heart of the Financial District. Hidden inside the gargantuan Hilton hotel on Kearny and Washington streets, this spa offers the usual fare, but most noteworthy are the unique treatments you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Try a color light therapy massage custom-coordinated for your needs or—here it comes—the Pair's Polish. The insta-vacation takes you and your honey on an exfoliating journey through steam, rain and waterfalls, all set to jungle-inspired music and topped off with a glass of Champagne. Spicy. 750 Kearny St., 415-399-9700,

Best Deal for Staying Smooth

Clean, calm and unpretentious—Haight Street Nails is the place to go for under-the-radar manis, pedis and waxing in the friendliest of atmospheres. The simple, stylish space—replete with fresh flowers, a long white-and-kiwi green couch elevated above a row of foot-soak tubs, and Andy Warhol art on the walls—is the perfect alternative to no-frills nail dives and stuffy salons. But what really keeps customers coming back is the oh-so-affordable price list. Mani/pedis are the standard $30, a regular bikini wax goes for $25, and Brazilians are only $40, way under market value. 1795 Haight St., 415-221-8928

Best New Boutique

One step inside La Boutique's bright, airy space in Jackson Square and you'll feel like you're in Berlin. The shop is the only one of its kind in the Bay Area to carry designer favorites from Switzerland's Collection 66, Belgium's Maison Martin Margiela MM6 line, Germany's Firma, and the more widely available Vanessa Bruno. While owner Carole Harari's handpicked finds don't come cheap, these brands are notoriously difficult to find in the US outside of New York, so anyone with a taste for foreign matter will want to add this to their go-to list and start saving now. 414 Jackson St., 415-693-9950,

Smallest Top Shop

Finally, someone has answered the call of small-breasted women in the Bay Area. Frustrated by a less-than-fruitful search for a stylish, fitting bra, Ellen Shing decided to become her own resource and started a line of petite lingerie. Lula Lu offers a wide selection of bras, panties, lingerie and sleepwear in sizes as small as AAA—that's bras, not batteries—and you won't have to worry about dodging D-cups to find what you're looking for. Think affordable Victoria's Secret prices and subtly sexy Cosabella styles. Show your honey that hot things do come in small packages.

Best New Salon Digs

Formerly located in Gump's, the Joseph Cozza Salon has recently moved into a space of its own just around the corner. Expect a full-service menu offering cuts, color and a new list of spa treatments. Check out the Genius Bar-esque beauty counter, where salon experts will recommend products for your hair type. On a budget? Call about free, weekly hair modeling sessions. 77 Maiden Ln., 415-433-3030,

Best Two Birds With One Stone

Part boutique, part understated gallery, Revolver is an ideal one-two punch for both guys and gals. The shop's owners call it an evolving retail project, but we'd call it perfect, as in the perfect place to find handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces that'll spruce up any wardrobe. Shop brands like Denham, Volta and Revolver's own eponymous line. Because the focus is on providing genuine, top-quality clothes, accessories and art pieces, you can take as much pride in Revolver's artisan-crafted goods as they do. 136 Fillmore St., 415-871-0665,

Clearest Conscience

While we may be sick of hearing about green, one thing's for sure—it's not going away anytime soon. The Bay Area's own Global Action Through Fashion is keeping eco-friendly fun and relevant with fashion events featuring stylish, socially responsible labels such as Pact, Stewart + Brown, Indigenous and Vagadu. Talk fair trade and local designers against a backdrop of organic cotton, live music, biodynamic wine and seasonal bites. The nonprofit do-gooders offer educational workshops and networking events as well, so keep your eye on their calendar and know that you've done your part to create a healthier world.

Best Quality Face Time

If the typical day-spa setting makes your skin crawl, consider the down-to-earth services at Stork's Skin Therapy. Forgo the usual front desk formality at this cozy studio, where you'll be greeted by owner Caroline Stork herself, who has more than seven years of experience as a licensed aesthetician and hails from Spa Radiance. From pre-wedding treatments to a simple after-work facial, all services begin with a personal consultation and skin analysis, followed by a fully customized skincare overhaul that includes deep cleansing, exfoliation, enzyme application, extractions, oxygen treatment and mask. Trust us—you won't just glow, you'll beam. 3150 18th St., 415-864-0447,

Best Preemptive Strike

Developed by Bryan Meehan and Ali Hewson, NUDE Probiotic Skincare is the natural way to stave off the aging blues. The pioneering skincare line—which recently set up shop in the Financial District—comes in super-mod, velvety bottles that mirror the highly nutritive ingredients they contain, like pre- and probiotics, those good-for-you bacteria that protect and nurture skin. For those serious about staying bright-eyed and youthful, try the Advanced Eye Complex, a lightweight cream that lifts and firms. Filled with antioxidants and Omega acids, the Replenishing Night Oil is the perfect bedtime serum. Available at Sephora, Barneys, Whole Foods and online at

Most All-American

If you're a fan of much-lauded designer Thom Browne's award-winning menswear collections, then welcome to Black Fleece—the newest Brooks Brothers offshoot where he's serving as inaugural guest designer. The spring/summer collection for men and women channels the opulent eras of the past: cotton seersucker and summer-weight wool, nautical-themed everything, plaid suits, argyle and enough red, white and blue to outfit an entire Fourth of July party, dockside. The newly opened Fillmore Street retailer also carries a cohesive collection of wallets, silk scarves and shoes, like their rubber-soled, white leather sneakers, all perfect accompaniments for those summer days on the yacht. 2223 Fillmore St., 415-931-2203,

Check out our other 2010 Best of the City Picks >


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