Best High-Style Boutique 2012 | Goldyn | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Vanessa Barcus's Goldyn is something of a couture pipeline, shipping in designer styles direct from the fashion Valhallas of New York, Los Angeles and Paris. Begun as an online store, Goldyn first hosted occasional pop-up events in Denver before setting down roots as a brick-and-mortar storefront last summer in Highland's LoHi Marketplace at Olinger, much to the glee of local landlocked couture snobs dying to touch a little bit of the real thing. If your heart longs for a piece of Helmut Lang, See by Chloe, Current Elliott, Rebecca Minkoff or other comparable labels, weep no more. Check out Goldyn, and keep an eye open for Goldyn events and trunk shows.

We awarded the Boulder Common Threads the Best Boulder DIY Boutique of 2009 on the laurels of its unique combination of secondhand chic boutique and community-conscious sewing studio, and then called it the "boutique of the future." But although Denver's new annex, on South Pearl Street, is much smaller and comes with only the boutique element intact, it still follows that prediction, seamlessly hanging both chic new clothing and upscale secondhand from its racks, with a dollop of recycled-green pride. Other differences? The Denver store is curated with a more citified working-girl clientele in mind than in Boulder, featuring still-chic, better-brand consignment items on its carefully ministered racks. We dare you to come in and not leave with some little treasure tucked under your arm.

The Buffalo Exchange, part of a chain of upscale resale shops, isn't new or even unique to Denver, but since it's moved into its airy new Broadway location, we've had a chance to revisit its charms, which are many. With its brick walls, open-air roll-up windows on the side and round racks stashed with still-chic, pre-loved, everyday treasures, it's cheerful in a way that feeds the fire to find something perfect as well as affordable. Which you will. If you know the place, you know the prices aren't Goodwill cheap (there's one of those just down the street, if you prefer under ten bucks), but given the quality and original value of many of these garments, it's still a deal. Keeping that in mind, when you're looking for a wardrobe brightener and you need one quick, nearly everything's a pick at the Buffalo Exchange.

Walk into Thread, and you'll see why it won the Denver Best of Local Business Award given for successful marketing across the nation by the U.S. Commerce Association: Owner Ellis Ann McClung has put together an ever-changing mix of fetching hand-knit ear hats and fingerless gloves, feather earrings, stained-glass jewelry, savvy handbags in bright prints, droll handmade dolls, knitted panda dolls, skirts in fabulous fabrics and more, by depending on a healthy roster of consignment artists to keep the shop stocked. And to further good, the combined boutique and craft store also carries hand-sewn items — from aprons to computer bags — made by women participating in the Denver African Community Center's "We Made This" life-skills program for refugees. Another in this year's large crop of indie boutiques encouraging commerce on a person-to-person, local level, Thread truly hangs its heart in its hole-in-the-wall endeavors.

Fabric Bliss rose up out of one of those corporate drone-gone-indie stories: One day, database administrator Aurora Sisneros decided to jump ship and open Fabric Bliss, a cozy, crafty place where you can choose the perfect yarn or fabric for your next project, pick up a pattern, buy a beautiful hand-sewn tote, take a class or just take advantage of the sewing studio's equipment. It's all in the mix at Fabric Bliss — a supply shop, boutique, classroom and workshop — and at your fingertips, along with all the thimbles and notions you could possibly need or want. Classes go from basic (Intro to Sewing) to whimsical (ultra-cute knitted Amigurumi animals) to practical (Pajama Pants), and at $7 an hour, sewing-studio time, which includes use of all studio machines and tools, is a deal. And Sisneros is happy to personalize by offering private lessons and private craft parties. Check it out: Fabric Bliss is just so sew!

Cherry Creek Shopping Center, which opened a little over twenty years ago, is, was and will always be the quintessential Colorado mall. It sways with the trends, but still boasts strong anchors (in spite of the ones — Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue — that slipped away), and it's ever-elegant and up-to-the-minute. One of the mall's strongest attractions remains the play area, which teems with children for hours on end, and its mix of stores is a beautiful balancing act that blends The Limited and Neiman Marcus, the Apple Store and Brookstone, all while fleshing things out with smaller trendy boutiques like Juicy Couture and Free People, and niche chains like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. In a word: perfect. When you want to waste an afternoon with a shopping bag and a loaded wallet, this is the place to do it.

Readers' Choice: Cherry Creek Shopping Center

Anna Newell Jones, a queen of thrift who counsels people on how to get out of debt and stay out, might just be the most brilliant fashionista in town. The evidence? Bringing the East Coast concept of the clothing swap to Denver, with help from gallery owner, local fashion maven and social-media princess Tran Wills. The And Then She Saved Clothing Swap is now a two-time success. Here's how it works: You bring ten high-quality garments or accessories — the kind of used clothing you might lay on someone close to you — hang it on a rack, pay a small fee to participate, and then let the swapping begin. Ideally, you, along with everyone else, will end up with ten items new to your wardrobe. Anything that's left over is donated to charity. Not only is swapping hella fun, but it's an easy way to brighten up a stale closet. This trend is just getting started, with more to come!

Don't go into Hazel & Dewey looking for the ordinary: Clean, sparse and, oh, maybe a little bit precious, the independent kitchen shop sports a Scandinavian aura, though it's not specifically Scandinavian in scope. Billing itself as a "modern mercantile," the foodie-forward boutique carries everything from Helvetica-character cookie cutters and Moroccan glassware to elegant Japanese wooden dishes and stylish La Théière cast-iron tea kettles in cool green shades; these wares, hand-picked by owner Jenna Miles according to her own discerning taste, are served like cake on round tabletops and tidy shelves. It's the perfect place to buy a memorable hostess gift or a be-good-to-yourself secret splurge. (While not bargain-priced, most of the merchandise costs less than $100.) Coming up this spring? Fresh-cut flowers, sold out of the shop's wood-paneled walk-in cooler. Broadway will be blooming!

The staff at Cherry Creek's LEGO Minifigures Collector kiosk — located not-so-serendipitously close to the shopping center's famed play area — doesn't need to hustle to lure fast-walking shoppers; the shoppers come to them. The kiosk sells a wide variety of minifigs, those tiny, intricate LEGO figures, and models currently specializing in Star Wars and Harry Potter — who knew there could be so many different Hagrids? — many of which have been discontinued, are hard to find or aren't available separately. The prices will set you back a ways, but collectors young and old who love their bricks will be used to that.

Stuart Alden, who, along with his wife, Nicky, runs the local screen-printing studio Ink Lounge, got it into his head that men are crafty, too. After working one too many girly craft fairs, he found himself asking, what about the guys? There are plenty of men hand-crafting products with man appeal, he reasoned, so why isn't either male constituency — the makers or the buyers — represented at a typical holiday market? Last December's Holiday Mancraft was the upshot of that lightbulb moment, featuring merchandise for men from an all-male pride of artists at a reception flowing with beer and — concession to the ladies? — cupcakes. Are you listening, Stuart Alden? Please bring back Mancraft! Do it for the guys!

Best Of Denver®

Best Of