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    The very word “boutique” has fabulous roots, as it comes from the French word for “shop.” Boutiques traditionally specialize in elite and fashionable items such as clothing and jewelry. The term entered into everyday English use in the late 1960s when, for a brief period, London was the center of the fashion trade. Carnaby Street and Kings Road were the focus of much media attention, as it was home to the most fashionable boutiques of that era.

    In today’s era here in Cincinnati, fashionable boutiques call Madison Rd., Erie Ave., Observatory Ave., Hamilton Ave. and Miami Ave. home. But there’s a lot hidden in between. Here’s a rundown of where to find the best boutiques for every need (and lusty want) your heart desires.


    It’s only natural to start with fashion when talking about boutiques. Check out this week’s fashion story for our fashionista’s review of all the local fashion boutiques in town. But here’s a few tried and true favorites:

    2651 Observatory Ave.
    Cincinnati, OH 45208

    This boutique truly lives up to its “from black tie to blue jeans” motto. Divulge in their denim wall, or drool over a Nicole Miller ruffled silk shift dress. You can have it all.

    2732 Erie Ave.
    Cincinnati, OH 45208

    You feel a little spunkier just walking by Snap. It always has the best eye candy for window shoppers. But walk in and you’ll see it’s just brimming with fun, funky and fresh items. Spring arrivals include great tops by LA Made, shorts and capris from Billy Blues, fun fashion by Hardtail and Miss Me. And don’t miss their Kandi Swim line, which comes in various “flavors,” such as cupcake, milkshake, ice cream sundae or smoothie suits.

    3456 Michigan Ave.
    Cincinnati, OH 45208

    This unique shop – specializing in unusual pieces from emerging designers, avant-garde European designers and perennial lines – once called Ludlow in Clifton home, but it’s now nesting on Cincinnati’s very own Michigan Ave. The name – Japanese for “I like” – is fitting, as there’s plenty to like in Suki!

    Alligator Purse
    2701 Erie Ave.
    Cincinnati, OH 45208

    Walk by Alligator Purse in East Hyde Park, and you’ll likely see incredible dresses, fashionable accessories and, yes, maybe even an alligator purse. But the untrained eye won’t catch this boutique’s true calling: denim. Lovely, gorgeous, yummy denim. So, make sure you walk to the back and find its display of jeans by Paper Denim & Cloth and Citizens of Humanity hanging neatly from giant silver pegs. You’ll be so happy, you’ll shed crocodile tears.

    0408OAKLEY.gif Denim
    3212 Madison Rd.
    Cincinnati, OH 45209

    Speaking of denim, go to the place that calls it like it is: Denim. In the heart of Oakley, this shop is heaven to the denim worshiper. With every designer you can dream of, and a knowledgeable staff that knows how to find the perfect pair, they make jean shopping actually enjoyable. Imagine that.

    Plum Diore
    6099 Montgomery Rd.
    Cincinnati, OH 45213

    Add an ounce of urban, a dash of funky, a sprinkle of bohemian and fold in fashionable. What do you get? Plum Diore, of course. This shop specializes in functional fashion. The cuts are unique and fashion-forward, but the fabrics are comfortable enough to wear all day. The shoes are on trend, but won’t put your podiatrist on speed-dial. You get the gist.

    The Wardrobe
    6910 Miami Ave.
    Madeira, OH 45243

    This shop is owned and operated by a woman that once helped Patricia Fields wardrobe the Sex and the City ladies. Need we say more? She has a high-end, high-fashion eye that will make you shine here in the Queen City. Check out her brand new shop in Madiera!

    Spice up any outfit with an eye-catching necklace, or super-sexy shoulder-sweeping earrings. Here are a few places where you can find the perfect piece of jaw-dropping jewelry:

    3408 Telford St.
    Cincinnati, OH 45220

    If you like posh, simple and unique, this place is for you. Tucked away on Telford in Clifton, this modern jewelry boutique is class all the way. You can find a hand-crafted item in the store, or talk to one of the designers or metalsmiths on staff and have something custom-made to perfection. Or make something new from something old by bringing in your unwanted jewelry and having their experts recycle, reuse and redesign!

    Elizabeth’s Closet
    934 Hatch Street

    Cincinnati, OH 45202

    Specializing in the jewelry (handbags and accessories – oh my!) you won’t find in a department store, owner Elizabeth Cook says her shoppers come to her because of her unique jewelry and handbags from all over the world. And because it’s upstairs from Daveed’s in Mt. Adams, it doesn’t have your typical boutique hours (2pm-11pm). Other perks of Elizabeth’s Closet include enjoying a glass of wine while shopping or hosting a Tapas event.

    Pizazz Studio
    122 West Loveland Ave.
    Loveland, OH 45140

    Pizazz is a good name for this shop because it has a whole lot of it. Chunky beads, shiny metals, loud colors, they have it all. Pizazz has your typical Trollbeads and Pandora Beads, but also offers super cute “HeartStrings” monogrammed silver jewelry and Annaleece fashion jewelry.

    One in a Million
    8740 Montgomery Road
    Cincinnati, OH 45236

    While One In A Million features unique gifts, extraordinary handbags, fashion accessories and home décor, the designer jewelry is the star of this shop. Their collections include: Davide Bigazzi (a former designer with Gucci), Gena Hoshihara (featured by Saks), Michael Spirito, Lucia Antonelli, Haim Becker, Stella Sarmiento, Reba Engel, Mummy’s Bundle, Elle, Amy Kahn Russell, Mars and Valentine, Lilly Barrack, Charles Albert…just to name a few.

    Another word with a French heritage, lingerie, has a way of letting us be fashionable and fabulous from the inside out. So, if you take the time to shop at the above boutiques, start at these first to get a good “base coat”:

    Knickers of Hyde Park
    2726 Erie Ave.
    Cincinnati, OH 45208

    Knickers is one of the first businesses to put bras up in the window in conservative ol’ Cincinnati. If that’s not reason enough to buy things there, their flirty, fun selection of “knickers” certainly will. While they don’t have the largest selection in the world (real estate is expensive in Hyde Park, come on!), they do have a helpful staff that will get the girls fitted like a pro.

    La Silhouette Lingerie
    6914 Miami Ave.
    Madeira, OH 45243

    It’s all about the atmosphere at La Silhouette. Swedish-native owner, Britt Cruikshank, brings a European flavor to everything from Parisian decor and luxurious European lingerie designers to the tea and cookies you can share with Britt as you shop. Cruikshank shares advice about opening one’s own boutique in this week’s career story.


    Multiple locations
    Specializing in everything bed-related, lingerie is just one of the things they offer at Gattle’s. But if you’re going to get pretty lingerie, you might as well get the monogramed bed linens to match and an intoxicating fragrance to lure him in.

    They say “If the shoe fits, wear it,” but what if it’s not a cute shoe? There are a few options in town to save the day:

    Azzini Shoe Warehouse
    7235 Algonquin Dr.
    Cincinnati, OH 45243

    While they aren’t exactly a boutique, they do have a “shoe-in” with a very niche audience. Blue Ash-based wholesalers during the week, they invite the public in on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to check out their hot trends at big discounts and up to size 12. They specialize in the larger-sized shoes and smaller-sized prices you can’t find elsewhere.

    Shoe Topia
    4044 Hamilton Ave.

    Cincinnati, OH 45223 

    In case you missed our shoe issue a couple week’s ago (living under a rock, much?), you shoe-o-holics might not realize there’s a mighty fix nearby in Northside. This shop is “sole food” for the unique shoe lover, as its forte is in its unconventional and conversation-starting, yet trendy and on-trend designs.

    Unique Gifts
    For those of you who secretly get a little too much pleasure from giving the funniest card and most unique gift at the party, you need to check these places out:

    3446 Michigan Ave.
    Hyde Park, OH 45208

    Gift-giving Gods smile happily on Poême in Hyde Park. They carry everything from a “Happy F***ing Christmas” card during the holidays and a high-end Homer Simpson writing pen to super chic corporate gifts and expertly-designed stationery. But be it known, Poême’s forte is their writing accessories, from handmade sheets of paper to personalized wax seals.

    1213 Vine st.
    Cincinnati, OH 45202

    “Objects for your life” is Metronation’s motto, and – if scented candles, hand-crafted jewelry, unique greeting cards and home accessories are a big part of your life – that’s exactly what they deliver. They also feature a hard-to-find collection of colorful Storm watches.

    Park + Vine
    1109 Vine Street
    Cincinnati, OH 45202

    Right down the street from Metronation is Park + Vine. They have a similar motto too, but it’s more like “objects for your eco-friendly life.” And since green is the new black, this place is quite the hotspot. Get everything from apparel and footwear to biodegradable home goods and earth-friendly home improvement products. The owner, Dan Korman, takes it a step further than the products and hosts occasional lectures and discussion groups, such as “Recycling 101” and OTR revitalization initiative think tanks. Check out the Park + Vine event page to see how you can get your life a little greener.



    Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography
    Location: Gateway Quarter
    Model: Shavaughn Byrd
    Makeup Artistry: Jocelyn Sparks, Zoë Custom Cosmetics