Shopping Mall Wing: MOA's First Floor South
Lay down the marble, hang the chandeliers, and the luxury stores will follow. There's been a flurry of openings since Mall of America remodeled its south wing. Desigual, Superdry, A | X Armani Exchange, Michael Kors, and Stuart Weitzman are among the new reasons to shop MOA. As if you needed another reason. mallofamerica.com
Local Fashion Moment: Anne Cramer & Her Iconic Skirt
It's her skirt; we're just wearing it. And wearing it. Minneapolis designer Anne Cramer had a breakthrough year, earning international raves and record orders for her spring Flynn skirt: an A-line with wide stripes in bold colors. Her follow-up fall/winter collection proves that Cramer is no one-hit wonder. She reinvented the Flynn as a floor-length skirt—same flattering style, but in rich neutrals. There are silk shells and cashmere sweaters to match, and true to Cramer's style—classic with a playful twist—she suggests finishing the look with a silk streamer in bright turquoise, yellow, or orange. "You're a gift," Cramer declares. "Wrap yourself up like one." annemcramer.com
Store for Play: kiddywampus
This St. Louis Park toy store feels more like a community center, and loitering is absolutely encouraged. Enthusiastic owner Amy Saldanha is constantly introducing new products, trying a science experiment, hosting story time, or inviting customers to a class that promises to expand a child's horizons. There are play tables, art rooms, and a playroom perfect for groups (or an impromptu hour's worth of parental sanity on a rainy day). Icing on the cake: kiddywampus donates all after-tax profits to charities benefitting children. 4400 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-926-7871, kiddywampus.com
New Retail Concept: dpHUE
Rare is the store that hasn't been done before. dpHUE, which launched this fall in Maple Grove, has single-handedly created a new beauty category: upscale home hair color. In sleek surroundings, customers get an on-the-spot color consult from a licensed colorist and walk out with a custom blend for about $40. It's more pleasant and educational than reading boxes in a drugstore, and it's less expenseive than a salon. We'll buy it. 7808 N. Main St., Maple Grove, 763-447-4727, dphue.com
Men's Salon: Gent
Tasteful surroundings. Upscale products. Quality services. Plus, sports on a big screen, iPads for surfing, and a putting green. Gent Cuts and Grooming, at Victoria Crossing, has created an engaging salon experience for men that doesn't seem gimmicky. 867 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-797-4294, gentcg.com
Beauty Classes: root
Give a girl an updo, and she'll look pretty for a night. Teach a girl to do her own updo, and she'll be camera-ready for every special occasion thereafter. Root's talented team of stylists, led by Jim Koktavy, shares tips and trade secrets. (There's typically a fee, but that includes styling.) Leave looking your best—and stay that way. 499 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-0200; 4289 Sheridan Ave. S., Mpls., rootsalons.com
Enjoy quiche and salad or snack on cookies and tea while surrounded by fresh plants and flowers. Yes, there is a place in Minnesota where you can dine in the garden year-round. Patrick's at Bachman's Minneapolis flagship, is the rare store café that could make you forget you came to shop. 6010 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-861-7600, bachmans.com
Specialty Bra Fitting: La Bratique
For too long, women who needed a D-cup or larger had trouble finding even a basic bra in stores. La Bratique's discrete setting, one-on-one service, and massive assortment of larger-size bras, both fashionable and functional, are a true revelation. Owner and fit expert Tracy Anderson takes the angst out of bra shopping. 5007 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-325-6620, labratique.com
Local Shopping: CorAzoN
We've been fans of this gift store since it first opened in the Warehouse District several years ago. Now resettled in Longfellow, CorAzoN has really hit its stride. Owner Susan Zdon has smartly partnered with local artists and small companies to create goods that are not only made in Minnesota, but are often exclusive to her store. It makes objects bought here that much more compelling. 4646 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-276-0198, corazononline.com
Shopping Districts: The go-to neighborhoods for finding the best stuff.
Boutique Shopping: 50th & France
Long the crown jewel of Twin Cities neighborhood shopping, 50th & France isn't resting on its laurels: This year saw the arrival of knockout intimate apparel boutique Room No. 3, stationery and gift store Paperista, contemporary boutique Drama, and, just in time for the holidays, the Twin Cities' first Athleta activewear store. Add those to the fashion, bridal, home, accessories, and even swimwear offerings already available, and this neighborhood addresses a discriminating woman's every need. Stay tuned: More openings are on the horizon next year.
Vintage Corner: 50th & Xerxes
Antique and vintage hounds have long sought out the intersection of 50th Street and Xerxes Avenue South in in south Minneapolis for its eclectic standbys: hunt & gather, Loft Antiques, and Michael's Lamp Studio. Now things are getting even richer with the recent additions of The Vintage Studio and Piccadilly Prairie, with art galleries, coffee shops, and a salvage warehouse sprinkled between, it's even more of a perfect place to hunt, gather, shop, and play.
Revitalized Corner: Selby & Dale
It used to be a cinch to park at Selby and Dale in St. Paul, because, let's face it, there wasn't much reason to stop—especially between meals. Selby and Snelling has gotten lots of attention for its turnaround, but this commercial stretch deserves some love too. From the exquisitely merchandised men's store BlackBlue—which has added women's clothes!—to trendy-on-a-budget Primp to the latest arrival, Allee Metro Chic and its downstairs partner, home accessories store Assez Bon, this intersection is now a destination.
Girls' Night Out: Excelsior
Fashion shows. Karaoke. Botox on the street. If it's Thursday night, you can be sure there's something going on along Water Street in downtown Excelsior. Cynthia Rae, Omorphia, Brightwater Clothing & Gear—really, all the small retailers in this lakeside town have done a terrific job of banding together to create social shopping events that draw packs of women. The official season runs June through October, with bonus events for the holidays. Each night out has a different theme, with store and restaurant specials, events, and extended hours. excelsiorgirlsnightout.com
Hipster Shopping: North Loop
Long considered a cool address for a restaurant, club, or interior design studio, downtown Minneapolis's North Loop suddenly has much more shopping as well, from menswear at martinpatrick3 to accessories at Askov Finlayson to designer wedding gowns at L'atelier Couture. The merchandise is some of the best in town, and the stores themselves are showpieces—sure to inspire more ambitious retail. We hope.
Ten Local Stores We Love:
Designer Fashion: Bumbershute
Men's Tailored: Heimie's Haberdashery
Trend Apparel: Covered
Shoes: Pumpz & Co.
Denim: Len Druskin
Office: russell + hazel
Baby Gifts: Pacifier
Mini Department Store: General Store of Minnetonka