Blending both the downtown energy with Ft. Lauderdale’s serene, beach-town vibe, historic Las Olas has long been a sought after site in South Florida. What’s not to love about a tree-lined strip where you can eat well, grab a drink at a sidewalk cafe, take in a gallery or get your hair done all within steps of each other? And if that’s not enough to entice a visit, between the endless attractions lies some of Florida’s best shopping finds - and we have the scoop on what not to miss.
Start your shopping journey just over the US 1 tunnel and head to Blue (617 E Las Olas Blvd.). With two other locations in Key West and Islamorada, this is a great stop for those looking to glam up a laid back look. The store, like its merchandise, is bright, airy and comfortable and can easily outfit you for an entire beach vay-cay. For daytime, scoop up trendy cotton t-shirts starting at $30, Mystique jeweled sandals, or an array of colorful cotton tanks and tunics. When the sun goes down, choose from several styles of AG or Castle Jeans and James Perse or Velvet tops. And for a night on the town, Blue also houses fashion heavy-hitters such as DVF, Nicole Miller, Rozae Nichols, and Susana Monaco, among others. Accessories are endless and include large Hobo bags, bohemian costume jewelry starting at $40, beaded belts for $29, as well as the elaborate – and more costly - David Symons line featuring rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets for approximately $1200. Whether a day in the sand or a summer cocktail soiree, this boutique will leave you glimmering from head to toe.
Walk a couple doors down and you will be immediately lured into Deborah James (623 E Las Olas Blvd., 954.524.2585). For the sophisticated shopper who doesn’t want to have the same top as the girl next to her, this is a must-see. Owner Deborah James picks up her feminine finds from all over the world and strives to keep her items original. The artistic space, equipped with large antique mirrors and vanities, is lined with equally eye pleasing threads. Walls are filled with vibrant tunics, colorful scarves, beaded peace sign necklaces, jeweled cuffs, oversized belts and gladiator sandals among other items. Flip through the sale rack in the back and you may scoop up a designer dress for up to 50% off. Non-sale items range from $30s and $40s to several hundred.
Across the street, and directly next door to the Cheesecake Factory, is Under Wraps (610 E. Las Olas Blvd., 954.522.2227), a shop for those looking to accessorize “under” their outerwear. And we’re not talking about granny panties. Intimates are bountiful and include both European and American selections. Top sellers include Josie and Natori nighties (that can also double as a dress, just don’t tell anyone), Betsy Johnson’s signature line, Claire Pettibones’s white lacy wedding lingerie and even Le Mystrere, Oprah’s go-to brand. The charming store even has items that can be worn out of the bedroom, including Green Dragon organic linen pants and cotton tanks. The far wall is adorned with designer bathing suits including Huit, a French line that custom makes its colorful tops in bra sizes to ensure “the girls” stay in place. And while the accessories in this shop may not be worn on the outside, they can certainly “pull” an outfit together. Try Matchsticks double-sided tape for your low halter-tops and nippies for your backless dresses. Or for the more daring females, pick up a jar of Chocoholics Body Frosting, complete with a mini paintbrush to apply several coats of this decadent topping on your favorite “treat.”
Stroll a little further down the street, and just over the canal you will find Bohemian Style (1309 E. Las Olas Blvd., 954-759-9144). This vintage consignment shop is truly a hidden gem that recently became more visible. Formerly tucked behind Las Olas Café, the shop has just moved to a new spot directly on the strip, providing more room to peruse its incredible merchandise. From the moment you step through the doors, you won’t know what to pick up or try on first. Carrying everything from vintage Chanel Bags and Prada loafers, to 70s-inspired signature Playboy glasses and Victor Costa vintage gowns, you will literally get lost in a world of dress up. “I’m always on the hunt for new, exciting pieces,” said Owner Carol Touchstone. Touchstone also enlists the help of a few scouters that travel the country, as well as Italy and Paris for her wide-range of eclectic items. She has even opened up her female trendsetter haven to the boys by recently stocking up on worn-in Armani shirts, jackets, and ties all hand picked from Italy but offered at a fraction of the price. Touchstone’s eye for style doesn’t stop at just duds. Also an interior designer, specializing in coastal chic, she scouts out some remarkable home pieces such as hand-made chairs and porcelain floor lamps from Nantucket. Prices start anywhere from $8 costume jewelry, to upwards of $4,000 for vintage designer frocks or custom-made pieces.
Whether there to browse or buy, you are sure to leave inspired - and maybe even with a great new bag.
Foto: Mariana Rivas.