I spent some hours on Upper Queen Anne recently checking out the apparel shopping. Queen Anne residents always knew it, and I can now confirm, that Upper Queen Anne is worthy of destination shopping status for women's clothes. Parking can be a drag, but I've organized this boutique list so that you should only need to park twice to cover all the shops. The first two shops on the list (numbers 1 and 2) are on opposite ends of the retail area on Queen Anne Avenue North. I recommend parking near Queen Anne Dispatch (number 2) and walking south to Skookum (number 1). On the walk back to Queen Anne Dispatch, there are numerous great shops to peruse for books, gifts, and chocolate. You must stop at El Diablo Coffee for one of their amazing mochas made with authentic Mexican chocolate — divine.
After stops 1 and 2, you will probably have used up your limited street parking time, so drive six blocks west on W. McGraw Street. Once you've secured parking, you can easily pop into P.W. Kerr's (number 3) and then walk one block to the shops (numbers 4-7) on charming W. Crockett Street. If El Diablo relocated its coffee house down to this hidden enclave, I might have to move. This adorable tree-lined street has some fun shops nestled in a residential area. Back near your car on W. McGraw, pay a visit to Macrina Bakery for a late lunch and to rest those tired feet before you head home.1) Skookum Clothing
1629 Queen Anne Ave. North
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10-6; Thursday 10-8; Sunday 11-5
Best for: slightly upscale, casual clothes for fashionable grown-ups.
This boutique specializes in apparel and accessories for classic, fashionable women 30-plus years old. Skookum Clothing carries one of my favorite lines Nic & Zoe. It's a reasonable quality, well cut line that's classic with youthful air. They also carry Jag Jeans' denim and cords, which is a favorite label of my clients who are curvier in the hip area. This is a boutique where it pays to check back fairly often because they tend to run out of sizes quickly.2) Queen Anne Mail & Dispatch (also formerly known as "Undies and Outies")
2212 Queen Anne Avenue North
Hours: Monday-Friday 8-8; Saturday 9-6; Sunday 11-5
Best for: graphic and comfy shoes, hip casual clothes, and quality, non-fussy accessories.
This is actually a boutique and a mail dispatch. The wall of wooden post office boxes is a quirky, fun touch to an otherwise hip boutique. My favorite section of this boutique is the shoe section. For the most part, the shoe selection really marries "form and function." They carry shoes with artsy graphic details, but are made to be comfortable as well. The selection of apparel is always interesting. The clothes are trendy and hip, but with a slightly more sophisticated touch. I find the prices to be reasonable ($48 for a graphic T-shirt), considering the piece you buy will be truly unique. The cut of most of the merchandise is pretty narrow, so curvier gals may struggle a bit here. They do have the occasional XL (equivalent here to a misses size 12/14) thrown in, but they are few and far between. As their former name suggests, they also have a section of super sweet and elegant lingerie, as well as cards and gifts.3) P.W. Kerr's
610 West McGraw
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10-6
Best for: colorful, super-sized sun hats from Madagascar.
This eclectic boutique carries household items, apparel, and accessories. P.W. Kerr's carries a large selection of Hobo brand handbags, so if you're a fan, it is a good stop for you. The owner, Seattle native Penn Kerr, also features a cool variety of pewter jewelry from France and some fun loungewear. I went crazy for some super-sized sun hats for $55. The 100 percent raffia hats (and some totes and slippers) are crafted in a village in Madagascar and come in an array of beautiful colors. They supply great coverage, and the wide brims can be molded either up or down.4) Pink Ginger
610 W. Crockett Street
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10-6
Best for: inexpensive trendy pieces in misses and plus sizes, Redmond-based Blue House Drive/Christopher Blue Jeans, and locally (and impeccably) made Deanna Dibene fabric hats.
Tina Christou (Seattle native and formerly store manager of Damsalfly in Ballard) opened her own boutique last month. Her tagline is "fashionable clothing for the curvy woman," and she carries sizes 6-3X. In general, these are not high-quality garments, but they are fun and inexpensive ($24-50 for tops, $45-$125 for dresses). This would be a great stop for someone wanting to buy a few trendy items, designed for a curvier frame. Pink Ginger also carries accessories and lingerie.
5) Beverly Hunnicutt Custom Design and Tailoring
608 West Crockett Street
Hours: Wednesday-Friday 10-5; Saturdays 10-4
Best for: Asian-inspired handbags
Beverly's reputation for alterations is impeccable. Although the primary business here is custom design and alterations, there is a small boutique in the front that carries kimonos, kimono fabric handbags, scarves, and hats. An Obi Evening Bag would be a whimsical addition to any little black dress. She also carries a full line of Blue Canoe organic yoga wear.
606 West Crockett Street
Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 11-5; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10-6
Best for: vintage costume jewelry ranging from funky to classic.
Buying "green" is all the rage now, but this boutique has been focusing on recycling jewelry for more than 20 years. There is an amazing amount of vintage costume jewelry on display here. Even though there are thousands of pieces, they all seemed to be in remarkable condition and displayed in a very digestible way. There is also a small rack of vintage suits and jackets that sport hand stitching and old labels like the Bon Marche and Frederick & Nelson's. In addition to jewelry, they also carry a selection of vintage ties, handbags, and gloves. There is a workshop in back, and the friendly staff will do costume appraisals and repairs.
7) Design in Fabrics
604 W. Crockett Street
Hours: by appointment
Best for: highly deconstructed designs
This shop is a mish-mash of clothing and bolts of fabric, but stand still, look around and soon you will notice the eclectic clothing displayed around the shop/workroom. The few pieces for sale are designer Renate Gehrig's own designs. The pieces that stood out for me were the long dresses that were deconstructed and seemingly made out of upholstery fabric. Think Project Runway meets fancy art museum benefit. I found them intriguing in design and impracticality.