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Best of San Diego 2015: Fashion & Design

The best in fashion, beauty, and decor, with a roundup of our favorite home tours from the year


Best Jewelry: Shel. Couture | Photo by Travis Duke

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Shel. Couture

Combining bohemian and island flair, the San Diego-based line of handcrafted pieces ranges from necklaces, bracelets, and rings to prayer beads and cufflinks. Founded in 2007 by interior designer Shelly Duke, Shel. Couture is devoted to sustainability, pledging to never use real coral in designs. In fact, for every Coral necklace (above, $2,500)—a sterling silver piece ornamented with turquoise and five layers of 14-karat gold—the brand sells, Shel. Couture will adopt a coral tree nursery from the Coral Restoration Foundation.


Azzurra Capri

Kaftans, chic denim, and bright bikinis are all on rotation at this sunny Little Italy boutique, but it’s Azzurra’s sandals that set the shop apart. Made with genuine Italian leather and certified Swarovski crystals—color and type selected by the customer—the sparkly sandals are handmade. At about $300 per pair, they’re an investment, but rest assured, the look is molto chic.
1840 Columbia Street, Little Italy; azzurracapri.com


Mimi & Red

The clothing and accessories boutique recently stretched its sartorial wings to new digs in the same home-base nabes. At both new North Park and Bird Rock stores, shoppers will find the signature mix of beachy, bohemian styles, but in larger spaces. That means extra room to twirl in your maxi dress.
3041 University Avenue, North Park; 5680 La Jolla Boulevard, Bird Rock



Located in the new, hipper Flower Hill Promenade, Boutonné offers handcrafted leather accessories in gender-neutral, everyday styles meant to stand the test of time. Not only is founder and self-taught designer Erin Pechtel from San Diego, but all of her materials are sourced from Southern California, too.
2690 Via de la Valle, Del Mar


Gym Standard

The eclectic North Park boutique houses footwear, magazines, plants, and more in a sparse, Zen-like space. Its location may scream uber-hipster—it’s sandwiched between Coffee & Tea Collective and The Homebrewer—but owner Edwin Negado keeps the place from feeling too-cool and welcomes customers with open arms and friendly conversation.
2903 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park

Supporting local artisans may be au courant, but Make Good has been in the game since 2008, with giftables made by San Diego and Tijuana makers. The shop’s recent makeover, courtesy of American Express OPEN, Etsy, and Rue magazine, has given it a brighter, sleeker look.
2207 Fern Street, South Park


Rylee & Cru

Illustrator Kelli Murray’s line of adorable onesies, dresses, tanks, and bandanas could bring out the “aww” in even the most curmudgeonly of adults. Hand-dyed and made in the U.S., the pieces, which feature Murray’s signature feminine-bohemian prints, are stylish without feeling too precious.

Designer Deal

Barneys Warehouse

We’re still mourning the loss of Barneys Co-Op at Fashion Valley, but Barneys Warehouse in Carlsbad’s Premium Outlets is stocked with racks of Rag & Bone, Cynthia Vincent, Joie, and more. You’ll have to dig, but you may even find a Lanvin or Chloé to add to your repertoire.
5620 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad


Ollie & Me

Past events at the Carlsbad baby boutique have included “After,” a monthly gathering hosted by parenting mag The Village focusing on life after birth; and “Nourish,” a soirée that offered mamas comp’d brow shaping, snacks from A MIHO Experience, and shopping exclusives featuring Farra Mirón’s Hostess Haven table linens.
2965 State Street, Carlsbad


Elle Bridal Boutique: Gown-hunting at the gilded, chandelier-adorned shop feels straight out of a fairy tale.


Elle Bridal Boutique and Dress Theory

Saying yes to a dress just got a whole lot easier, thanks to these two highly curated gown shops. The former is housed in an industrial-meets-sparkly downtown studio, while the latter is located in a Craftsman home. Both make for such intimate dress-hunting experiences that you’ll forget you’ve left the house.
1133 Columbia Street, downtown; 1525 West Lewis Street, Mission Hills


Bink & Boo Booties

Put down the ducky socks. These locally made booties are the most stylish way to keep your littles’ toes from being chilly. Designed and created by talented mommy of two Bianca Wickers, the booties are made with vintage and found fabrics from flea markets, unique textiles, and other gorgeous materials and turned into coveted footwear for babies. Not only do these cozy booties look adorable, they stay put, too. We dare you to only order one pair. Tip: Her collection of up-cycled comfy pants, Ankle Biters, made of vintage t-shirts, are a hit with toddlers.

On the spectrum of charming stationery stores, Sweet Paper continues to dominate, with a wide selection of options, seamless ordering, excellent service, and a shop of must-have gifts.
7660 Fay Avenue, La Jolla

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This new miracle facial, available at Paradise Point Resort and Spa, is the latest obsession of stars like Kate Winslet, who reportedly takes the treatment. Using a Vortex-Fusion technology, the brightening, hydrating, fine line-smoothing, and pore-shrinking results are immediate and there’s no post-treatment peeling or rash.
1404 Vacation Road, Mission Beach


Beauty By Dolly

The eyebrow trend is real, and if you weren’t blessed with Brooke Shields-worthy brows, Beauty By Dolly, with locations in Hillcrest and Carmel Mountain, needs to be in your phone’s Favorites. Each of their skilled brow-techs, armed with nothing but thread (and occasionally some snipping shears), can turn wild into refined, overworked into sleek. And yes, we’re talking about eyebrows. Our go-to gal? Natasha—she is a brow goddess. Tip: If you’ve never threaded before, be excited for a non-red post-brow glow. Waxing is so passé.
3650 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest; 9550 Black Mountain Road, Carmel Mountain



The Carlsbad-based mineral comsetic brand must’ve had locals in mind when creating its collection of sun protection-packed products. Some of our favorites include the Even Up sunscreen, which protects, primes, and lends color, and the carry-on-friendly Sunforgettable collection, which includes SPF-packed mineral powders, lip shines, and “eyescreen,” along with a vitamin E face mist that’s a savior for sun worshippers.


Blo Blow Dry Bar


Blo Blow Dry Bar

The successful salon chain, backed by Gwyneth Paltrow and celebrity hairdresser David Babaii, recently debuted a downtown location, and with it comes blowouts with cheeky names like High Society (a polished top knot) and Executive Sweet (a stick-straight ’do), as well as bridal-specific offerings. Beyond the blow, the salon also does manicures, pedicures, facial waxing, and makeup application. The gel manicure, in particular, is one of the best in town.
435 Island Avenue, Gaslamp


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Nok Nok Living

The chairs, credenzas, and other home effects in this shop, located in the former Nest Vintage space, are a primer in midcentury Modernism. Eames, McCobb, Wegner, Saarinen: There’s a good chance their work is in stock and ripe for bogarting.
850 25th Street, Golden Hill


Nic Roc Designs


Nic. Roc. Designs

Summer is synonymous with parties, and designer Nic Roc (Nichole Rocero) will help kick your soirée up a few beautiful notches. Her line of party accessories spans laser-cut cake toppers and drink stirrers in the shape of words, numbers, and flamingos to colorful napkins stamped with gold foil pineapples. Party on!


Pigment: Black thumb? Beyond the succulent station, the North Park boutique also offers a hefty selection of air plants. Look, ma! No soil!



Now that the trendsetting shop has an indoor potting area, customers can pick out succulents and containers, then plant on site. Soil, colored sand, pebbles, and other materials are also available. FYI: How much you add figures into the final cost. Getting your hands dirty has never been so hip.  
3801 30th Street, North Park



This September, local interiors icon Paul Basile is launching an e-commerce site, featuring custom pieces, as well as furniture, lighting, bar accessories, and more from some of BASILE Studio’s best-known projects, like Craft & Commerce and Broadstone Balboa Park.  


A House in the Hills

Local photographer Sarah Yates Mora’s blog is a colorful mix of fashion inspiration, healthy recipes, and home décor projects, with a hard-to-achieve balance of aspiration and real talk. Her current home renovation—Mora recently moved from Palm Springs to an enviable Spanish-style stunner in San Diego—is instant clickbait.

Housed in the first cottage built on historic Cedros Avenue, Bixby & Ball specializes in coastal chic decor. That means coral hues, crisp whites, and John Robshaw textiles.
214 South Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach  

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More in Best of San Diego 2015:

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