Best Place to Get in the Mood 2004 | Sweet Utopia | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
Sweet Utopia is an anomaly in the 21st century -- a store dedicated solely to relaxation and romance. Barbara Lynn Trattler's north Denver hole-in-the-wall is a sensual curio, draped and dotted with little luxuries to help heighten the senses. Here you'll find hand-dyed and beaded slip dresses, jingly Egyptian hip scarves, cut-flower stems, treasure boxes and lip-shaped truffles. Trattler also assembles hand-packaged Erotiberry gift baskets, which can include everything from massage oil and chocolates to champagne and flowers. You can't buy love, but at Sweet Utopia, it's fun to try.
East meets West at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where students practice the art of sticking it to the public. Every Saturday, the school opens as an acupuncture clinic. Supervised by physicians and others who've completed the school's intensive Chinese-medicine program, the clinics help pupils fine-tune the arts of relieving pain and stress and treating disease by stimulating specific pressure points in the body. Even the needlephobe will have a hard time overlooking the deal: Sessions are $25, roughly half of what 'puncture fans pay at salons and clinics around town. Just...hold...still.

Okay, so nobody actually gets knocked up at Comfort & Joy, but Joy Hewitt-Kind has made helping women conceive the specialty of her acupuncture practice. She'd been treating basic pains, illnesses and stress until a few years ago, when a client came to her after having repeated miscarriages. Kind intervened, and the woman came down with twins. No guarantees (thankfully!) that she can work the same magic for everyone -- but she's also been known to clear a migraine. And her touch is so gentle that most patients fall asleep before she's even done placing the needles.

You don't have to set fashion aside just because you're having a baby. Haven't you heard that pregnancy is the new black? Or was that last year? In any case, "It" moms and moms-to-be Reese, Sarah Jessica and Gwyneth have proven that it's possible to set trends even as the belly balloons. Denver moms can do the same at Real Baby, a Highland store that stocks lace dresses and bags so hip you'd never guess they were designed to hold diapers. And there's no reason Baby can't turn heads, too. With tiny Aloha shirts, Kenneth Cole sneakers and sequined flip-flops, your young one can follow in your stylish footsteps -- just as soon as he or she can walk.

Screw Baby Gap. Real rock-and-roll parents will appreciate the duds coming out of Denver's most venerated house of music. There are no pink bunnies or fluffy booties here; the kid will be clamoring for the skull-emblazoned tanks (size infant and up) and other similarly goth creations. Do it for the children, man.

Are there really as many babies out there as there are new shops catering to them? Must be. Such businesses are multiplying like rabbits as baby boomers' kids create a baby boom of their own. And even though one place looks as cute as the next, Studio Bini stands out for a number of reasons, including its location on Tennyson Street, an urban stretch that's found new life in the past few years. The tiny boutique is also a showcase for its owners, local children's-clothing designer Linde Schlumbohm and artist Sandy Brudos. Bini overflows with cute: tie-dyed velvet dresses, miniature high-top sneakers, lace-trimmed poodle skirts, vintage cowboy prints, puffy swing coats and Kandinsky-esque '50s-style Brubeck shirts for stylin' tykes. We'll take five!

European babes have been snoozing in these things for years, but they're a relatively new idea for naptime over here. The Angel's Nest is really just a sleeping bag for tots, but there's some deep-sleep thinking behind the concept. The bags are safer and more reliable than tangly, loose bedding, and they're soft as a cloud and impossible to shake off. Denverite Jennifer Zinn so loved one sent to her by a sister in France that she hatched a plan to market her own, in two styles. Through her website, Zinn offers a standard "sleeping bag," for babies still sleeping exclusively on their backs, and a "wearable bag" -- sort of a closed romper with no legs for little ones old enough to roll around. The Nests come in a variety of cushy materials and seasonal weights. Rock-a-bye, baby.

Babies have the sweetest little feet: You could wrap them in a banana peel and they would still look cute. Fortunately, Castle Rock stay-at-home mom and business-minded entrepreneur Jenny Chism devised a more appropriate foot covering for wee ones when she created Monkey-Toes. The tiny sneakers, hand-painted with ladybug, frog, bee and piggy motifs and tied up tight with squiggly shoelaces, can be purchased in sizes from one to ten at selected boutiques or online. Start monkeying around.

Louisville mom Terry Hsu-Gander shipped a little piece of China back home after visiting there and adopting two daughters. While picking up her girls, Hsu-Gander found the stylish children's shoes she now imports and sells under the Frog Prince label. She moves most of the merchandise through her website, with the help of a sister living in Shanghai. With feather-soft leather uppers that come in brilliant swathes of contrasting red, black, white, lime green and tangerine, these shoes practically scream "Adorable!" Available in toddler and little girls' sizes up to eleven, the Frogs are comfy and durable, appropriate for both dress and play. "My own kids grow out of them before they wear them out," Hsu-Gander says of her shoes, which stand the test of time, mud, concrete and gravel. What a kick.

Best Clothes for Chinese-American Princesses

Meili & Me

Boulderite Leslie Potter was inspired to create a more durable line of girls' clothing by her adopted Chinese daughter, Meili ("beautiful" in Chinese), who, as a crawler on two hands and two knees, wore out her Chinese silks faster than her mom could button them up. Potter's perky denim-and-print collection blends cultures with style, mating the Mandarin collars and frog fasteners of the traditional Asian chi-pao with all-American jean jackets, tiered ruffle skirts and capris. The ultra-cute play ensembles have been selling like hot egg drop soup since Potter first started stitching them together, and not just to families of Chinese adoptees. Cute is international.

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