Let's face it-you don't visit Santa Fe to go to the Gap. In the City Different you seek the unique, the eclectic and the sinfully fabulous. If you're a local, you're missing out when you forego downtown's cozy shops for the cheap thrills of the mall. Whether you're here for three days or 365, set aside an afternoon to browse your way through downtown Santa Fe. Don't forget your wallet!
Start a block north of the Plaza on Marcy Street. Pop into Wearabouts, a small women's clothing store carrying specialty designers like 3J Workshop and Burning Torch. You'll appreciate snazzy details like flowers delicately embroidered on a plaid wool-blend blazer or snap pockets sassily placed on a brown velvet skirt. As the sales assistant advised, consider the pricier pieces collectors' items and purchase one a year to enhance your wardrobe. While you're at it, pick up a pair of always-in-style Frye boots.
Across the street is the wildly eclectic Mira!, where you can buy anything from folk art to patterned oilcloth-and, happily, an always-surprising array of casual designer duds. Japanese pop-inspired T-shirts by Tokidoki sit next to Rocket Dog shoes and boots, accompanied by a tasty selection of jeans by Marlow, Virtue, Buffalo Jeans, and more. A 50%-off sale rack perennially resides in the back, with a rotating selection of skirts, jeans, dresses and tops. A tiny "men's section" includes mostly T-shirts.
For the more upscale male shopper, hike around the corner to Robert R. Bailey on Washington Street. Owner Stephen Bailey loves what he does, and it's obvious. A sumptuous array of ties dazzles, and you can also opt to have one custom made with your choice of fabric and design. Feast your eyes on gorgeous shirts by designers like Equilibrio Italia and Brioni, with eye-poppingly bright colors and patterns for the adventurous, and more subdued hues for the conservative-minded. Sport jackets, suits, shoes, handkerchiefs-he offers everything a guy needs to look and feel like a million bucks.
Next, take your time to stroll the streets around the Plaza and enjoy the bevy of boutiques, including Goler, Uli's, Indigo Shoes, Dust in the Wind, Harry's for Men and Women and Sign of the Pampered Maiden. For the woman seeking her "inner goddess," float down West San Francisco Street to Origins. The sheer volume and variety of the flowing, feminine velvets, silks and lace will take your breath away. Most of the pieces are handmade by local and regional designers, and it shows. The store boasts flattering clothing for every body, age, and taste, as well as personalized service. You will truly feel like a goddess as you allow yourself to be swept through rack after rack of embroidered and sequined luxury.
For a different kind of luxury, visit Eternity on Water Street. Owner Khaldoun Sassila makes regular buying trips to Paris, where he scoops up custom made, one-of-a-kind women's outfits. He and his highly trained staff will act as your personal shoppers and dress you to sophisticated perfection in the private changing area of the small, elegant store. "My philosophy is to dress you, not sell you," says Sassila. You'll love his attitude and his exclusive shoe collection, featuring Calvin Klein, Stuart Weisman, Gucci, Givenchy, and Christian Lacroix.
Next, dash off to the Sanbusco Center in the Guadalupe District. New shoes pinching you? Budget plenty of time for On Your Feet, the ever-popular shoe store featuring comfortable European and American style for men and women. Gorge yourself on the plentiful foot-friendly options by Dansko, Ecco, NAOT, Birkenstock, Josef Seibel, Clarks, Merrell"¦and much, much more. The friendly staff will help you navigate the dizzying array of choices. While you're at it, visit the attached affiliate store, Get It Together, for a fun selection of socks and tights, or maybe a hat and a cotton skirt to complement your new Ariat cowboy boots.
Finally, pop into the main entrance of Sanbusco Center to the local treasure Bodhi Bazaar. Ooh and aah over their collection of wrap dresses by the great Diane von Furstenburg, as well as clothes by Annette Lepore, BCBG, Max Azaria, and Missoni. Don't ignore the back of the industrial-chic store or you'll miss the artfully displayed True Religion jeans. And if you are still aching for more shoes, you can find a hip, not-so-comfortable pair here.
Whew! You've completed Round One of your whirlwind shopping spree-but there's still so much to see and so many more stores to visit. Better have a margarita at the Cowgirl on Guadalupe Street to fortify you for further shopping adventures.