Best of the City 2009: Fashion


Best Children's Wear Collection: Modaspia

Modaspia’s new children’s wear collection—handcrafted by local designer Ursula Dean as a spin-off of her breezy line of women’s dresses, blouses and skirts—is so adorable you won’t be able to resist turning your 3-year-old into the ultimate Mini-Me. Look for the teeny sundresses (the Fiji has a matching grown-up version, if you must) that come in an array of sweet prints and are made from the softest eco-friendly fabrics. Insert “awww” here.

Best Threading: Lucid Beauty

If waxing and overzealous tweezing have left a permanent expression of concern on your face, we suggest booking a top-notch brow threading at Lucid Beauty’s new location in Hayes Valley. Owner and aesthetician Cheryl Lucid will coax brows into perfect condition by prepping the skin with mineral powder, extracting even the finest of hairs using a precise threading technique, and finishing with a brow trim and soothing application of clove oil. 427 Hayes St., 415-252-9591.

Best Flats: Kartell

Leave it to the design gurus at Kartell—the Italian firm better known for furniture than footwear—for coming up with the fashion equivalent of Philippe Starck’s iconic Louis Ghost chair in their new plastic Glue Cinderella shoe (pictured above). Glossy, utilitarian and sleek, this modern update on the standard-issue ballet flat could just as well be displayed in your living room as a wearable work of art. 501 Pacific Ave., 415-839-4025.

Most Painless Brazilian: Zindagi Salon

Finally, a Brazilian that doesn’t hurt. If even Japanese hair straightening has failed to tame your curls, head to Zindagi salon in Union Square for co-owner Kellie Little’s expertly executed Brazilian Keratin semi-permanent hair straightening—a hard-to-find treatment that leaves your unruly locks shiny, silky and utterly frizz free. Bring on the summer humidity—you’re ready. 55 Grant Ave., Third Floor, 415-989-9463.

Best Sunscreen: Bare Escentuals’ Natural SPF 30

For the beauty buff who has endured the horror of watching her spendy tub of face cream get dumped at airport security, we suggest Bare Escentuals’ new Natural SPF 30. Packaged in a spill-proof bottle with a buffing brush applicator, the oil-, preservative- and fragrance-free mineral powder not only protects against harmful UVA and UVB rays, but also doubles as a blot powder, freeing up precious real estate in your already overstuffed Ziploc bag. 845 Market St., 415-357-9804.

Best Adornments: Litter SF’s Summer Shoe Jewels

Problem: Your closet filled with last season’s flats is causing total boredom south of your ankles. Solution: Litter SF’s new summer shoe jewels for sandals and flats, made from repurposed metals. We especially favor the stainless steel Beach Walk jewels, made from vintage belt parts, and the gold-toned Walk Away adornments crafted out of old chains and vintage costume jewelry. 2161 Union St. #1, 415-932-6361.

Best Quickie Facial: Spa Radiance 30-minute Mini Luxe Facial

When lunch is your only chance to breathe—or you need a quick pre-party pick-me-up—head to Marina fave Spa Radiance for its 30-minute Mini Luxe Facial: a top-notch custom facial that usually includes a light peel, steam, extractions, mask and neck and shoulder massage, leaving you and your skin refreshed and glowing for days. 3011 Fillmore St., 415-346-6281.

Best Men's Shoes: Michael Toschi

Even those with two left feet may be inclined to hit the dance floor after seeing a pair of men’s shoes by Bay Area–based Michael Toschi. Constructed with flexible in-sole suspension pillars and shock-absorbing gel-pad foundations for the ball and heel, this line melds the comfort of a high-tech orthopedic with the style of a dress shoe. We especially love the crisp, white, lace-up G3 golf oxford with its striking red sole for both on and off the green. They’re as easy on the eyes as they are on the feet. Available at Arthur Beren Shoes, 222 Stockton St., 415-397-8900.

Favorite Boutique: Anica

Why we adore Anica’s debut private collection: 1. The tie-dyed velour Velourbit dress and the sheer, cropped Meteor tank appeal to our cosmic senses.2. There are only two summer pieces, making it easy to choose (we’ll take one of each, please). 3. Additional pieces due to roll out for fall mean we’ll have to go back to one of our favorite Russian Hill boutiques for more. 2418 Polk St., 415-447-2878.

Easiest Shift from Day to Night: JulesElin Organics’ Jenny Dress

We’re always looking for ways to avoid the embarrassingly frantic work-wear-to-after-5-outfit-overhaul in 7x7’s ladies’ room. That’s why we’re fans of JulesElin Organics’ Jenny dress: Made in SF from supercomfy organic cotton, the form-flattering, cinched-waist sheath by local designer Julie Burnbaum can be worn over a pair of skinny jeans and paired with flats by day. Shed the denim, slip on a pair of stacked platform heels and a chunky cuff and you’re instantly party-ready—without ever having to leave your desk. Available at Ladita, 827 Cortland Ave., 415-648-3497.

Best New Store Opening: Diesel

With major store openings as rare as a sunny summer day in the SF fog belt, it’s music to our ears to hear that Diesel is moving its Post Street digs into a sleek, new two-story flagship store on Market Street next month. The historic California Savings Bank building will get a welcome facelift, and be outfitted with a winding copper staircase and Italian furnishings. Inside, shop for the entire range of Diesel’s offerings, from fragrance to the brand’s trademark five-pocket jeans. 800 Market St.

Best Fashion Poster: Stefan Sagmeister's Levi's Posters

A refreshing take on the ubiquitous distressed denim trend: Levi’s collaboration with New York City artist Stefan Sagmeister. He’s created a limited-edition, museum-quality print by deconstructing—then reconstructing—a pair of Original Button-fly 501 jeans. Snag a free poster with any Levi’s purchase at American Rag, 1305 Van Ness Ave., 415-474-5214.

Best Salon: Salon

Maybe it’s because it’s a salon named Salon. Or because it has only four chairs. Or maybe it’s that the tiny place reminds us of a chic little find in Europe. Whatever it is, we love local proprietor Sherri Ziesche’s Salon in Russian Hill for its personalized service (courtesy of an always-friendly crew of stylists), impeccable haircuts, highlights and blowouts, and the fact that you can enjoy it all while sipping complimentary drinks. 2259 Polk St., 415-567-8740.

Best Stress-Reliever: SenSpa

For those who think money can’t buy happiness, think again. At SenSpa in the Presidio, $265 gets you a blissful three-hour retreat (a.k.a., the stress-reliever bundle), which begins with a 30-minute life-coaching and nutrition consultation, followed by a 30-minute aromatherapy facial and scalp massage using geranium oil, known for balancing the mind. You’ll be lulled into a further state of calm during a 60-minute Swedish Esalen full body massage that combines long, rhythmic strokes with lymphatic work and guided deep-breathing exercises. This kind of peace of mind is well worth the price. 1161 Gorgas Ave., 415-441-1777.

Best Budget Bridal Gifts: Adrienne Lee Wiley's Frolick Bridal Collection

You’ve coerced your bridesmaids into wearing pink ruffled taffeta concoctions for your fantasy wedding. Now you really owe each of them a great gift. For accessories they will appreciate wearing on your big day and beyond, local jewelry designer Adrienne Lee Wiley of the vintage-inspired line Frolick offers up Frosting, her gorgeous, new bridal capsule collection. The affordable, customizable 14K gold, sterling silver and precious gemstone pieces are handcrafted at Covet, her new shop and studio in the Richmond District. 391 Arguello Blvd., 678-860-5613.

Best Graphic Design Clothing: Loyal Army

In Loyal Army land, cupcakes are smiling, sushi is toothy and storm clouds have fangs. The San Francisco–based tween apparel brand known for the quirky-cute graphics on its T-shirts, hoodies and bags makes gift-giving for that hard-to-please kid so easy and—dare we say—fun that you may even find yourself trading in your reusable Trader Joe’s grocery sack in favor of Loyal Army’s fetching “Don’t Panic I’m Organic” summer tote. 1728 Haight St., 415-221-6100.

Best Reason to Stop Borrowing from the Boys: Nice Collective's Women's Wear Line

Given that Ian Hannula and Joe Haller, the duo behind SF menswear label Nice Collective, have been designing the occasional women’s pieces since the inception of their brand in 1996, it only makes sense they would launch a women’s wear line for their eager ladies in waiting. The result? The Vaudeville-inspired Voix de Ville collection of dresses and separates stamped with the trademark Nice Collective aesthetic: undone, nonchalant and understated. Available at Azalea, 411 Hayes St., 415-861-9888.

Best Nerdy-Chic Menswear: Distilled

Guys daring enough to step out of the box of grays, browns and blues will appreciate Distilled’s canary deck blazer from its military-inspired spring/summer line, with its utilitarian, adjustable toggles and lightweight nylon fabrication in a brilliant shock of color. Manufactured in the Mission District, just two blocks away from its Capp Street headquarters, Distilled’s nerdy-chic men’s wear is still one of our favorite reasons to shop local. Available at Bloomingdale’s, 865 Market St., 415-856-5300.

The Homecoming Queen: Julie Chaiken, Founder of Chaiken Clothing
Since relocating her eponymous women’s wear line to SF last summer after a decade of living bicoastally, Julie Chaiken hasn’t been nostalgic for the Big Apple one bit. The designer has been too busy spending time with her two sons and planning her line of Chaiken pop-up shops—the first has already opened in Mill Valley—which carry the full Chaiken collection, from her expertly tailored pants and crisp trenches to maternity wear to sunglasses. “The move was a long-overdue shift because this is really my home,” says Chaiken. Read More...

Best Virtual Shopping Community:

Social-networking shopaholics: We’ve discovered your ultimate match. Founded by local entrepreneur Jeany Stein, is the first-ever mobile and social shopping community (think Facebook meets Twitter meets Amazon), which has grown to 1.8 million members and counting since its beta launch last November. The site allows users to create their own showrooms, grab images off the Web so that a search engine can find out where those pieces are available at the best prices locally, and upload photos of an outfit from their mobile phones while asking friends for feedback in real time. In other words, it’s like your very own personal shopping service, without the department store.

Best New Accessories: Edition by Banana Republic

Banana Republic’s new Edition by Banana Republic store, which opened in the Westfield SF Centre last month, is hyper-local: So far, there’s only one in the world. Edition sells accessories—shoes and eyewear plus handbags and jewelry, many with runs of only 50 to 100 pieces produced worldwide (which won’t be sold online). Since most items are priced at less than $100, everyone can get in on the deal—as long as you live here, that is. 865 Market St., 415-896-9670.

Best Garment Bags and Pouches: Jendarling’s Summer Vagabond Collection

Even if you weren’t planning on a summer trip, you’ll reconsider with one look at SF-based Jendarling’s limited-edition summer Vagabond collection of eco-friendly garment bags and pouches. We adore the Ikat-print Capri Violet shoe bag, which can be used as a dirty laundry sack in a pinch, but our favorite is the Eco-traveler Clutch (above) made of recycled leather, organic cotton and hemp. It can go from passport holder to chic evening bag in a New York minute. Available at Eco Citizen, 1488 Vallejo St., 415-614-0100.

Check out our other 2009 Best of Picks

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