I grew up in Bay View — well before the rest of the city woke up and realized the south shore was just as lovely as the north. A creative career took me to Manhattan, where, soaking up the opportunities and sheer variety in the city’s concrete canyons, I morphed into the person I am […]

I grew up in Bay View — well before the rest of the city woke up and realized the south shore was just as lovely as the north. A creative career took me to Manhattan, where, soaking up the opportunities and sheer variety in the city’s concrete canyons, I morphed into the person I am today. In other words, when I returned to Milwaukee, I came back with a bit of attitude.

Readjusting was hard at first. For instance, I was baffled by the shopping boredom and convinced there were plenty of others all over the city just as eager for some shopping spark, something to sit up and take notice of, something to get excited about.

Then suddenly, within the last few years, the city rose up from its slumber, led by entrepreneurs and designers who understand we don’t have to settle for less style at home than we find in our travels. While the Third Ward has been instrumental in shaping this new retail identity, credit also must go to the rest of greater Milwaukee for opening and supporting interesting independent boutiques and luring in national chains that market modern style. All of which means lots of places to consider when choosing the most interesting places to shop. Here, divided by category, is a comprehensive list of my favorite stores. Happy shopping.

Great Style

Aversa: Every fashion season, with unerring success, Aversa offers sensational shoes, jewelry, belts, accessories and fashions culled from international designer collections, so that just about anything purchased is bound to become a favorite wardrobe essential. Bayshore Town Center, 5900 N. Port Washington Rd., 963-9963.

With an emphasis on those special details that separate trend from fashion, Boutique B’Lou celebrates color, style, texture and embellishment in a mix of unique and sophisticated sport, career and evening wear. Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave., 226-0112; 807 Genesee St., Delafield, 262-646-4281; 13410 Watertown Plank Rd., Elm Grove, 262-785-0909.

Got an active lifestyle? Faye’s 1 and Faye’s @ Play have you covered. Besides great-fitting T-shirts and jeans and flattering suits and dress-up wear, expect plenty of those all-important fun accessories. Don’t forget to pick up a free fashion newsletter while you’re there. 1505 W. -Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-241-8386; Galleria West, 18900 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-432-0070.

Years of expertise and superb customer service have clearly defined Peg Bradley-Zita Fashion as one of the city’s premier shops for discriminating women. Whether casual, evening or bridal, the intent is to leave lasting impressions. 211 E. Silver Spring Dr., whitefish Bay, 964-2460.

At GIGI of Mequon, bridal, black tie and after-five fashion have myriad faces, all of them perfect for expressing polished style and poised confidence. 1550 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-241-1123.

Bella Donna has updated day classics in beautiful fabrics and flattering shapes. Dressing your age doesn’t mean sacrificing a sense of style. 5589 N. Diversey Blvd., 962-6330.

Loaded with Lily Pulitzer’s classic laid-back attitude, Pink Whimsy is a mecca for fans of the designer’s bright, cheerful suburban fashions for women, children and the home. 1412 W. -Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-241-8732.

Fresh and Fun to Wear

Overflowing with stylish and affordable stuff, J. Bird Boutique rewards the young and young at heart with cool separates, jeans, jewelry and gifts, along with really special shopping events. Third Ward, 415 E. Menomonee St., 727-6553.

When trends hit the coasts,Hers reflects them in fashions you won’t see anywhere else in town: contemporary day-to-night pieces, designer purses and jewelry. Pregnant fashionistas will find maternity flair to wear right up to delivery. 309 N. Water St., 273-4377.

In a small space, Vieux et Nouveau reveals a big blend of fashion-forward runway trends with an offering of vintage or vintage-inspired pieces and plenty of unexpected one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories. 1688 N. Franklin Pl., 287-9049.

Goldi’s is averitable treasure trove of well-priced trendy, ready-to-wear fashion, home and beauty accessories, shoes, shoes and more shoes. And an in-store coffee bar. 4114 N. Oakland Ave., 431-4832.

At Miss Groove, no matter where you look, you’re sure to spy fun, flirty and just plain wonderful fashion accessories, handbags and jewelry intended to finish off an outfit beautifully. 1225 E. Brady St., 298-9185.

If casual to dressy casual describes most of your wardrobe, check out Garbs Nuvo. Its niche is ultra-trim, contemporary, upscale fashion. 2205 N. Calhoun Rd., Brookfield, 262-780-0909.

Three Graces: Contemporary clothing, shoes and accessories for women aiming to earn high fashion marks. With its move to the Third Ward, it now has an out-of-the-ordinary bridal department. 207 E. Buffalo St., 273 —3350.

With so many jeans available at Moxy’s, if you can’t find a pair that fits and flatters, honey, you’re not lookin’. 2219 N. Farwell Ave., 220-9910.

Encompassing the second generation of women’s street fashion — the stuff that goes from day to evening with attitude — Envy manages to fill a small store with lots of shirts, pants, skirts, tops, dresses, bags and shoes. 2203 N. Farwell Ave., 755-0030.

A boutique loaded with sassy fashions at great price points, Fred is bound to become a shopping destination. Try the monthly “Martinis With Fred” night, and take advantage of extended evening hours, complete with complimentary wine. 524 N. Water St., 273-3733.

Fashionably Expressive

Eclectic with a capital E, Valentina’s daring daywear, cool career choices and glorious evening fashions are designed to be noticed. Some of it is so creative that the shop practically qualifies as a gallery. East Towne Square, 1505 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-241-4122, and Galleria West, 18900 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-789-7759.

Women anxious to stand on their own in a crowd love Lela for zeroing in on the essence of big-city fashion — a mix of cool stuff from national and local designers with the tweak of juicy consignment and vintage pieces. 321 N. Broadway, 727-4855.

Fashionable, comfortable day-to-dress-up fashions featuring the work of talented independent designers and a great selection of jewelry make for some interesting shopping at Lise & Kato’s. Bayshore Town Center, 5900 N. Port Washington Rd., 964-6768.

Along with the sophisticated leather fashions at Heinsight, you’ll find owner Cindy Hein Westin’s stunning custom designs that would be at home in a Madison Avenue boutique. 7609 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa, 456-9211.

Kudos to city shoppers for supporting venues like Fasten Co-op Clothing Gallery (2365 S. Howell Ave., 747-9229) and Fashion Ninja (2671 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 481-3865), which present clothing and accessories from local designers who prompt us to rethink fashion in new, inventive ways.

There’s no problem finding the perfect handbag at Pursenal X’pressions, where you create one that’s right for you by choosing size, style, fabric and embellishments and then having the store’sprofessional seamstresses sew it for you. 638 Milwaukee St., Delafield, 262-646-4464.

For Women of Size

At divna, larger ladies can shop some of the most sophisticated up-to-date casual-to-dress fashions designed for the generously endowed. Jewelry and accessories are also proportioned to flatter. Stone Gable Mall, 1300 Capitol Dr., Pewaukee, 262-695-2266.

A great source for bras sizes 40B to 56J, Voluptuous Secrets offers lingerie, lacy bridal corsets, sexy robes, nightgowns, teddies and even garter belts designed to support the most generous of figures beautifully. 1740 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Dr., 264-7776.

Teens in larger sizes find all of the same must-have fashions as their pint-sized pals do, but sized to fit at Torrid. Mayfair mall, 2500 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa, 259-9470.

Something Personal

What did we do before Blush Beauty brought the city high-end boutique make-up and skin care? As if designer products, professional make-up lessons and terrific store events weren’t enough, now there’s a cool new Brow Bar to shape lovely expressions. 249 N. Water St., 272-1718.

Women of all shapes and ages love Allure’s fun, sexy, sophisticated and beautifully made bras, camis, lingerie, loungewear and sleepwear. And if your cup runneth over or is slightly empty, professional bra fitters will help round out the situation. 1505 W. Mequon Rd., 262-240-0085.

Miss Groove Intimate teases women (right along with their men) with beautiful, sexy, fun designer lingerie and at-home wear designed to make them look and feel their feminine best. 1224 E. Brady St., 298-1694.

For the Guys

Resonating with flawless good taste, the -casual, business or black tie fashions at Roger-Stevens provide discriminating men with the perfect excuse for a business trip into the city. Pfister Hotel, 428 E. Wisconsin Ave., 277-9010.

With generations of exceptional clothing, excellent service and customer loyalty under its well-crafted belt, Harleys the Store for Men is still offering inspiring styles. 4009 N. Oakland Ave., 332-3404.

Creating a classic men’s wardrobe with the best of today’s taste is something Mark Berman & Son does well. And they don’t stop there — they do it for women, too. 11920 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, 262-241-8010.

Brooks Brothers, America’s first clothing retailer, currently operates a satellite shop in the airport terminal. Mitchell International, 5300 S. Howell Ave., 489-1568. An even broader selection of its traditional fashion will soon be available in a larger store opening in November at Bayshore Town Center, 5900 N. Port Washington Rd.

MPtwo: for the urban, upwardly mobile guy with polished, up-to-the-minute men’s fashion that includes high-end designer jeans, sleek Italian suiting and modern, sophisticated casual sweaters, shirts and slacks. 825 N. Jefferson St., 272-4672.

Meeting the increasing demand for modern sport and casual metro fashion style, Detour makes a point of presenting hot trends as soon as they hit. Sendik’s Towne Center, 18915 W. Capitol Dr., 262-783-5146; 1300 E. Brady St., 273-5156.

Aala Reed inspires fashion confidence with a signature blend of traditional and innovative casual-to-evening options taken from the best of Italian and American design. 1320 E. Brady St., 226—2252.


While comfort may reign supreme at A Shoe Affair, style doesn’t lag a step behind. The idea is your feet should feel as good as they look. 1400 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-240-1097.

Kick it up a notch at Sweet Kicks, where young, brash, fresh footgear intended to make big trend statements won’t take a big bite out of your wallet. 2327 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 727-7800.

It’s easy to understand the women and shoe addiction thing given the gorgeous creations at Picardy Shoe Parlour. Honestly, some pairs are pretty enough to be framed and hung on the wall. 18900 W. Blue Mound Rd., 262-784-3434; 11035 N. Port Washington Rd., 262-241-5578.

(shoo): artful design with a wonderfully edited collection of well-made, often hand-crafted ultra-modern shoes gathered from designers the world over. 241 N. Broadway, 765-2355.

Funky and fun, packed to the gills and with prices that can’t be beat, Mr. Shoe is definitely worth a stop. 1533 N. Farwell Ave., 277-0660.

With the country’s most distinctive handcrafted men’s casual and dress shoes made right here at Allen-Edmonds and offered atsensational seasonal blow-out sales, well-heeled fellows can afford to pick up a pair (or two or three). Galleria West, 18900 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-785-6666; 11043 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, 262-241-4266.

Something Childish

Thanks to goo goo gaa gaa’s fun and classic furniture, bedding, toys and accessories, the world of little ones gets even cuter. 8905 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield, 262-790-6890.

Big, bright and loaded with swell clothing, creative toys, fun gifts and kid-size “adult” furnishings, Sprout is an urban mom’s dream. 241 N. Broadway, 289-0844.

Shoppers don’t come to freckle face for cute. They come to make statements of style — kid sized — with designer clothing, bedding, gifts and fantastic footwear unavailable anywhere else in town. 407 E. Buffalo St., 298-1488.

When girls aren’t kids anymore but not yet teens, B’Tween Friends bridges the gap with age-appropriate, fun fashions, books, accessories and craft activities. 2223 E. Capitol Dr., 964-5701.

Lucky for moms and grandmas, the city is ripe with small-scale fashions at the following shops: WhimsiKidz(12898 W. Blue Mound Rd., Elm Grove, 262-785-9012), Bark River Kids(808 Genesee St., Delafield, 262-646-2824), Tadpoles(708 Genesee St., Delafield, 262-646-5556), Boutique Bebe(2630 N. Downer Ave., 964-2323), The Snappy Turtle(1350 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-241-8680), Just Kidding(318 E. -Silver Spring Dr., 962-2524) and Juxt home·baby(1504 Underwood Ave., Wauwatosa, 257-1710).

Making a House a Home

Across the country, GeorgeWatts & Son has been recognized for generations as a premier source for fine china, crystal, silver, linens and gifts. And great service — if it’s out there, they’ll have it or get it. 761 N. Jefferson St., 290-5700.

Unlike the disjointed jumble of over-crowded furniture showrooms, Jamie Wilke Interiors offers an inspiring walk through a decorative maze of sophisticated fine furniture and accent pieces. 203 E. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc, 262-569-7594; 803 Genesee St., Delafield, 262-646-4046.

Distinctive dinnerware, accent pieces, fine linens and luxurious bath products makes shopping Past Basket like visiting a well-appointed home. 383 W. Brown Deer Rd., 247-9976.

Motif Home Decor: Freshen up -traditional, contemporary or eclectic interiors with furnishings, rugs, custom upholstery, window treatments, home accessories and gift items chosen with a discerning yet clever eye. 690 Westfield Way, Pewaukee, 262-691-1500.

If you’re building or renovating, Colleen -Horner Kitchen•Bath•Tile•Stone is one of the best home design showrooms in the city. If you’re not, it’s a great place to daydream or shop for bath and kitchen gifts and accessories. 191 N. Broadway, 298-9969.

With bolt after bolt of elegantly sheer, brilliantly colored, incredibly embellished, wonderfully patterned fabrics, Manhattan Textiles scores high with decorators. It also has great rugs, trims and window treatments. 10505 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, 774-5858.

Peabody’s Interiors not only presents furniture from America’s finest manufacturers — many exclusive to the city — but also a highly qualified, ASID-certified professional design staff. 133 E. Silver Spring Dr., 962-4550.

The spacious, stylish environment at Cranston is perfect for presenting updated traditional home furnishings, rugs, lamps, tableware, accessories and gifts. 250 N. Water St., 289-9880.

With so many homes and condos opening up to the out of doors, On The Deck is a great resource for furniture, fabrics, grills, dinnerware and fun stuff designed to withstand the elements. 124 E. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc, 262-567-1155.

The public showroom at Haven reflects the city’s increasingly confident sense of style, raising the bar with lots of new lighting, fabric, furnishing and design options. 1457 N. Farwell Ave., 765-2350.

Need a rest? European Comforts has enough plush towels, luxurious bed linens, stylish robes and slippers, unique bathroom and bedroom hardware, soothing soaps, lotions and scents to turn any bath or bedroom into a private retreat. 890 Elm Grove Rd., Elm Grove, 262-797-8004.

With a team of interior designers to guide you, no style decision is too big or small for –Bazaar Home Decorating Center. Check out the huge fabric clearance area before continuing on to a great selection of well-priced upholstery and drapery fabric, furniture, accessories and custom window treatments. 21950 Watertown Rd., Waukesha, 262-784-2448.

Rubin’s was modern before anyone else was, and by allowing customers to order from full furniture lines, it’s still the city’s most comprehensive source for contemporary interiors. Third Ward, 224 E. Chicago St., 278-8100.

Flanner’s Home Entertainment offers lots of inspiration on seamlessly synching technology into your life, as well as some of the coolest home theater furniture around. 16220 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-789-1195.

Expressive Interiors

The artfully displayed organic shapes, textures and beautiful color palettes of dinnerware, linens and gift items at Xenia make for a truly Zen-like shopping experience. 1515 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-240-1480.

Shoestring Home: Expressive home style mixing vintage and hand-crafted furnishings and accessories against sleek design and colorful patterns. 330 W. Broadway, Waukesha, 262-548-9255.

Kowata Tree underscores global style with a variety of unique décor accessories and accent furnishings from around the world. Sendik’s Towne Center, 18905 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield, 262-373-0141.

There’s a sense of terrific taste in the unique urban and textural home style seen at –Anthilia. It’s a look so distinctive that the store added an interior design service to meet customer demand and represents a full line of elegant minimal furnishings.1442 Underwood Ave., Wauwatosa, 727-5511.

The objective at urban abode is to inject mega individual style into scaled-down interior spaces with statement-making accent pieces, unique home accessories and lots of current custom upholstery options. 336 W. Main St., Waukesha, 262-446-0140.

The Finial’s huge selection of high-end fixtures, faucets, accessories and frankly fabulous hardware fulfills the promise of dream kitchens and indulgent baths. 7555 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-242-9335.

The wares at Nana’s Imported Arts & -Textiles are culled from the owner’s annual trips to Africa, where she chooses fabrics, carvings, baskets, jewelry, sculpture and artwork representing the various African cultures. Along with the largest array of South African wines in the city, the store also boasts great books on African art, history, religion, philosophy and cooking. 6440 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, 774-3073.

Specialists with Big Selections

BILTRITE’s spacious new showroom has tables, chairs, upholstered furniture, desks, entertainment centers, beds and bureaus sized to fit small home, apartment or compact condo living, including furniture specifically built to come apart for delivery, making easy work of awkward tight hallways, doors and stairs. 5430 W. Layton Ave., Greenfield, 238-2020.

The hunt is half the fun at BBC Lighting. Then there’s the great deals you get on all manner of chandeliers, light fixtures, lamps and ceiling fans for every room in the house. The free popcorn isn’t bad either. 2015 W. St. Paul Ave., 933-0808.

Mad for mid-century modern? Moderne-aire is filled with decorative home furnishings, books, videos, art and posters of the period, plus a Retro Lounge, where customers can park themselves at computer stations to shop on-line sources or browse through special-order catalogs. 170C S. First St. (above Alterra), 223-0717.

Brass Light Gallery does everything with style — from showrooms displaying some of the best hand-crafted architectural interior and exterior lighting fixtures available in the country to its fabulous vintage and antique lighting collection. 131 S. First St., 271-8300.

If your walls are begging for cover, head to Wallpaper Wallpaper for more than 500 in-stock designs and literally hundreds of pattern books from which to order. More than you’ll find anywhere else. 9126 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa, 258-8640.

Be amazed, very amazed at Knob Gallery’s sheer selection of knobs, pulls and cabinet hardware designed to complement any conceivable style. 18900 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-782-7788; Third Ward, 241 N. Broadway, 262-782-7788.

More leather than a dude ranch and a move to the Third Ward makes Dinesen’s Leather Only the biggest draw in the city for leather sofas, chairs, sleeper sofas, recliners and sectionals. 231 E. Buffalo St., 277-7747.

The whirl, chime, tick and tock of the city’s largest offering of American and imported grandfather, cuckoo, wall-mounted and mantel clocks and wrist and pocket watches at Little Swiss Clock Shop have marked the passage of time for generations. And the store’s expert on-site repair department is as good today as it ever was. 270 W. Main St., Waukesha, 262-547-2111.

Well-Aged Beauty

It’s not often that you are offered this many interesting and beautifully made English furnishings in one place, so stop in at Marsh Hill Antiques and look around. You’re bound to end up loving something. 2045 W. St. Paul Ave., 933-1061.

Having already survived generations of use in Europe, all of the rustic chests, bureaus, cabinets and armoires at Antique Boutique sit stripped and ready for a new life. 637 E. Erie St., 273-6656.

Scheduled for its grand opening on June 1, French Country Pine & Design promises to lure shoppers in with antique cottage and garden pieces, complementing home accessories and lots of expressive design inspiration. 1423 Underwood Ave., Wauwatosa, 262-853-1086.

Homestead Lighting and Décor is a little jewel of a showcase for beautiful antique and vintage chandeliers, wall sconces, lamps and mirrors. Especially impressive is a selection of more than 135 styles of lampshades available in more than 150 fabrics. 163 E. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc, 262-567-6543.

No, you may never get to China, Tibet, Nepal or Mongolia, but visits to Artasia(159 N. Broadway, 405-0670), Elements East(109 E. Silver Spring Dr., 332-3530) and From Afar(1134 S. First St., 647-9652) will expose you to enough incredible furniture, architectural relics, jewelry and decorative art to enrich your sense of global cultures.

Great Gifts

Before anyone knew where the Third Ward was, Private Gardener was establishing the shopping district’s sense of style with innovative fresh flower arrangements, antique artifacts, unique pots and garden and patio furnishings. 190 N. Broadway, 223-4747; Mequon Court II, 1380 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-241-0909.

Accentrics: bright and captivating with lots of colorful glass, expressive ceramics and artful jewelry. 1505 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-241-9292.

Funky, fun and easy on the pocketbook, Dragonfly offers new and retro personal and home accessories, along with a well-edited selection of vintage clothing. 1117 E. Brady St., 271-1244.

Room upon room filled with fabulous gifts and home accessories tucked in an explosion of faux flowers makes shopping at Moorehead and Rhodes simply joyful. 10505 N. Cedarburg Rd., Mequon, 262-242-7728.

No matter the season, things always feel fresh at Blue Iris, where beautifully expressive home and garden accessories, gift items and children’s wear just seem to inspire good cheer. 600 Milwaukee St., Delafield, 262-646-4747.

Small as it is, The Blue Lapin has lots of loyal customers stopping in for that special garden-inspired little something to give away or treasure. 7532 W. State St., 443-0977.

A Leap of Faith: When you’re looking to reach out and touch someone or just send along the gift of hope, this store has countless cards and gifts, as well as books, candles, CDs, jewelry and keepsakes radiating positive energy. N70 W6340 Bridge Rd., Cedarburg, 262-376-9490.

For wrapping presents, inviting people or thanking friends, you’ll find a bonanza of well-designed cards, journals, albums, stationery, wrapping paper, ribbon and gifts at Broadway Paper. 191 N. Broadway, 277-7699.

More shops supporting the art of correspondence in a text-messaging world are Papél (5676 Broad St., Greendale, 421-8664), Touch of Whimsy (620 Milwaukee St., Delafield, 262-646-8915), GiraffeLtd.(527 E. Silver Spring Dr., 332-8900) and Paperwork(2622 N. Downer Ave., 963-0555).

Hoping to make impressions with handmade accessories, ceramics, glass, jewelry, metalwork or art pieces from local, national and international artists and artisans? Visit shops like Atypic Gallery(Audubon Court, 333 W. Brown Deer Rd., 351-0333), Mio Bella (Sendik’s Towne Center, 18905 W. Capitol Dr., 262-781-6707), Underwood Gallery (1430 Underwood Ave., Wauwatosa, 476-1255), John Red’s Ltd.(Cedar Creek Settlement, N70 W6340 Bridge Rd., Cedarburg, 262-377-2995), Argosy Ltd.(Galleria West, 18900 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-821-6900), Barclay Gallery(Walker’s Point, 158 S. Barclay St., 347-0500) and 3rd Ward Jewelry(241 N. Broadway, 289-0886).

Arts, Cooking, Crafts

Gourmet Outfitters caters to cooks with high-end cookware and knifes, small electrics and all of those great gadgets that trim tedious prep time. 11036 N. Port Washington Rd., -Mequon, 262-241-9799; -Sendik’s Towne Center, 18905 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield, 262-781-6019.

Applying a fresh approach to a centuries-old craft, Loop Yarn offers hundreds of fanciful fiber yarns and accessories and classes for beginners to old pros. 2900 Delaware St., 481-4843.

All you need to pursue just about anything artistic is offered at Artist and Display— even the classes to teach you how to do it — along with lots of imaginative and creative gift items. 9015 W. Burleigh St., 442-9100.

Serious cooks will enjoy poking around Fein Brothers and buying the same cookware, kitchen equipment and culinary supplies as professional restaurant chefs do. 2007 N. Martin Luther King Dr., 800-222-8789.

Stencil Store: Devotees of this craft will find everything they need, and on the off-chance they don’t, there’s a slew of pattern books from which to order. Lake Country Market, 690 Westfield Way, Pewaukee, 262-695-4224.

Legacy Scrapbooks supports America’s number-one hobby with an astounding selection. There’s even a well-equipped, well-lit workroom where customers can work on their masterpieces or host scrapbooking parties. W62 N542 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, 262-377-3642.

Endlessly self-expressive, beading remains phenomenally popular. Lucky for practitioners, shops like Nottingham Beads(630 Milwaukee St., Delafield, 262-646-8535), Midwest Beads(15780 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield, 262-781-7670) and Eclectica(Galleria West, 18900 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-641-0910; 11049 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, 262-241-0911) stand stocked and ready with thousands of new and vintage silver, glass, stone and imported beads, plus classes for all levels of expertise.

Very Specific Shops

Daly’s Pen Shop welcomes a steady stream of loyal local and out-of-town customers who’ve fallen under the lure of the shop’s fine writing instruments and accoutrements. Grand Avenue, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., 276-8900.

Kaehler Travel Works(415 E. Silver Spring Dr., 332-4848) and Landmark Luggage & Gifts(East Towne Square, 1515 W. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262-241-5211) are good destinations for luggage built to last and ingenious travel accessories.

The extensive offering of authentic handmade Native American jewelry, musical instruments, pottery, paintings and wall hangings at Silver Eagle could give shopping in the Southwest a run for its money. 183 E. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc, 262-569-9595.

Handling matters of sensuality with a frank, fun, safe and educational openness, A Woman’s Touch stocks enough massage lotions and potions, instructional and erotic books and videos, sexy lingerie and gifts, safe-sex toys and tools to keep all parties inspired, involved and satisfied. 200 N. Jefferson St., 221-0400.

The be-all end-all source for standard and deluxe skateboarding needs, Moda3 also the city’s most comprehensive source for ultra-urban streetwear, footgear and accessories. Third Ward, 320 E. Buffalo St., 273-3333.

Workers with home offices head to Interior Investment for desks, lighting, filing systems and chairs that are smartly designed. Expert design services ensure ergonomic balance. 756 N. Milwaukee St., 287-0000.

Shoppers enamored with the romance of the past find an utterly lovely selection of discriminating antique jewelry at Nouveau. W62 N594 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, 262-375-4568.

Have you had it with java? The Windowbox stocks tempting teas from around the world, plus enough pots, cups, saucers, cozies, strainers, gifts, shortbreads, cookies, chocolates and truffles to sweeten the switch. W359 N5002 Brown St., Oconomowoc, 262-244-0055.

As baby boomers’ eyes begin to blur, few are taking passes on glasses. Across the city, they’re finding flattering options on optics at Metro Eye(Third Ward, 301 N. Water St., 727-5888), Optix on Downer(2616 N. Downer Ave., 964-3125), Brookfield Vision -Center(19035 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield, 262-754-4880), EYEopenerZ(Grand Avenue, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., 272-0313; 18110 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-796-2020), Innovative Optique(Audubon Court, 333 W. Brown Deer Rd., Fox Point, 228-9873) and Eyez Boutique(4314 N. Oakland Ave., 481-0868).

Shopping with a Conscience

Instead of flashy merchandising, the emphasis at Plowshare Center’s “fair trade” gift shop — which sells toys, clothing, cards, nuts, chocolates, coffee, jewelry, baskets and furniture — is to make a real difference in the lives of farmers and artisans. 880 Grand Ave., Waukesha, 262-547-5188.

Enjoy guilt-free shopping at Future Green, the city’s first environmentally sustainable store offering fair trade organic clothing and linens, non-toxic home products, artfully recycled home accessories and earth-friendly building products. 2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., 294-4300.

Everything needed to turn yards into avian sanctuaries is at Wild Birds Unlimited, including bird experts to tell you how to go about it. 4454 S. 108th St., 529-4644; 11004 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, 262-241-8483; and 19555 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-789-8226.

National Chains

Shop the cool, uncluttered space of Design Within Reach and see what’s possible in cool contemporary home and office style. Third Ward, 167 N. Broadway, 224-5353.

Crate & Barrel magnificently markets modern home style to the masses. 2450 N. Mayfair Rd., 258-9500.

At DSW Shoe Warehouse, practical, sporty, trendy, edgy and dressy shoes are grouped by style and affordably priced,with lots of -clearance racks upstairs. 2265 N. Mayfair Rd., 443-0115.

Cheap chic makes shopping Target a win-win. The store’s ultra-efficient computerized system handles returns in minutes, often without a receipt. Locations all over the city.

The Apple Store: A non-commission sales staff means no pressure to buy, and the store’s terrific in-house tutorial classes allow the techno-terrified to sit in as often as they’d like. Mayfair mall, 2500 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa, 258-1614.

With maternity fashions, vitamins, books, videos, nursing equipment and everything else for mothers-to-be, the appeal of gestation looms large at Destination Maternity. 6010 W. Blue Mound Rd., Brookfield, 262-786-9872.

H&M’s ever-changing stock of inexpensive eye-popping fashion knock-offs means young and discerning older shoppers can afford to embrace red-hot trends and move on to the next once those have cooled off. Brookfield Square, 95 N. Moorland Rd., Brookfield, 262-786-4808.

Sephora encourages shoppers to sample just about all of the makeup, skin care and -fragrances in the store so no one goes home without an idea of what they just bought. Mayfair mall, 2500 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa, 257-9310.


If time or budget cancels out that trip to Tahiti, head instead to shops like Crème (5589 N. Diversy Blvd., 964-2777), Soaps & Scents(2628 N. Downer Ave., 962-6566; Mayfair mall, 2500 N. Mayfair Rd., Wauwatosa, 771-2228) and Savon Nouveau (W62 N595 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, 262-377-4140) and treat yourself to a wealth of wonderfully luxurious soaps, pampering bath bubbles and soaks, organic skin care lines, fragrant room sprays, soothing body creams and an array of aromatherapy products.

By Colleen Heather Rogan. Photographed by Karl Von Rohr.