Plan on spending a day on Coral Gables’ tree-lined Miracle Mile. Between the little
cafes, quaint side streets, a major bookstore (Barnes & Noble) and shops galore, there’s something for every stroller, especially women. A helpful site before you embark: shopcoralgables.com, a blow-by-blow guide to the scene.
Essence: They couldn’t be friendlier at this 2-year-old boutique, owned by Rollan
Alzérraca, hubby of 2003 Miss Universe Amelia Vega. Prices are as appealing as the trendy, colorful clothes, with a 50 percent off rack in back. "This store is for young, happy people," says manager Sandra Moreira, Rollan’s mom. "They come in and say, Dress me I’m going to a party. Look out for hot shoes by Miami’s Sergio Zelcer as well as Steve Madden, Mystique and Jessica Simpson. Other designers in the lineup at this upscale Forever 21: Sugar Lips, Una Luna and Karina Grimaldi. Prices: $10 for a plastic necklace to $300 for a princessy dress. No. 78, 305-448-6777, www.essenceboutique.com.
Cybele: It’s all about the customer service at this streamlined, well-edited shop. Owner Adriana Salcedo takes great care in selecting pieces from all over the world — Brazil’s Tufi Duek, UK’s Sue Stemp, Boudoir from Thailand and Israel’s Nili Lotan (now in New York). "We’re super honest here," says Salcedo. "If you come out of the dressing room and those stripes don’t look good, I’ll tell you." Then, she says, "I’ll bring you something that does look good." Prices: $10 for small earrings to $2,000 for a long coat. No. 223, 305-774-0050.
Aura: The spot for It jeans — there’s an entire wall of them by the door. Pick from
established names like True Religion and Chip & Pepper and lesser-known labels like Harlan and Grass (all in the $200 and up range). Also: frilly baby dolls, shorts ensembles and beachy caftans in an airy, comfy pod of a place (prices up to $1,000). Don’t forget to peek in back at what’s on sale. $40 for a bracelet to $1,000 for an evening dress. No. 257, 305-444-6744.
Capricho: This storefront is a shoe-lover’s idea of heaven on earth. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, go barefoot. All the fabulous suspects are on board with the most fashion-forward and perilously high of heels — Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney and Michael Kors. Capricho also stocks smaller, supercool Euro brands like Corso Como and Barbara Bui. Prices: $75 for flip-flops to $500 for leather sandals. No. 269, 305-774-0110.
Curves and Waves: Bless his heart: Owner Joey Vitucci packs this Miracle Mile standby with as much fashion as he can. Skimpy swimsuits share real estate with silky kimono dresses, everyday jean skirts, distressed T’s and swirly bat-wing tops by the likes of Vivienne Tam, Ed Hardy and Ella Moss. Seek and ye shall find. Prices: $50 for a T to $500 for a long halter dress. No. 275, 305-442-1430.
Hip-é: Pronounced "hippy," this newcomer fits in nicely with its tony neighbors and stocks "a little bit of everything for everybody," says Mari Alarcon, owner. "We look for things that are contemporary, casual but in style." That means summery peasant dresses, beachy tunics and top-bottom ensembles by smart, sophisticated designers like Casting, Walter and Poleci. Prices: $75 for a tunic to $800 for a seasonal coat. No. 359, 305-445-3693.