Best Instant Wardrobe Change 2012 | And Then She Saved Clothing Swap | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

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!

SoBo, which incorrectly begins at First Avenue and Broadway and works its way south to Alameda, has been a work in progress. But a few crowning touches — a slow influx of new and trendy restaurants, a stabilized lineup of boutiques and the recent instigation of the Tigalo block of shared quarters for Buffalo Exchange and Fancy Tiger — have made all the difference between its designation as a street with a few shops one sees while rushing by and that of a real shopping destination. People are stopping more than they did before, and they're going to do that more and more. The charm is already there, and the variety is plentiful. If the Broadway stretch can address its cons in the future — narrow sidewalks, fierce traffic and parking nightmares — with a project like the one just finishing up on Tennyson Street, there's no telling how high this district can fly.

Readers' Choice: South Pearl Street

For years, Boulderites have eyed Denver enviously, wishing they had an equivalent to the big city's cheese shops. Then, last summer, Coral and Will Frischkorn opened Cured a few blocks off the Pearl Street Mall. Coral and Will are young, newly married and in love not just with each other, but with all things cheese. Convinced that the United States now produces some of the best cheeses in the world, they travel, sample, experiment and select the very best of what they taste. In addition to cheese, their store carries a selection of cured meats, honeys, chocolates, vinegars, salts, olive oils and any other foodstuff that piques the Frischkorns' palates, as well as baguettes that take you right back to Paris, whether you've been there or not. That would be more than enough to satisfy most Boulderites, but the well-stocked wine store in the back pushes Cured over the top.

The Sugar Plum, housed in the nooks and crannies of the Parkside Mansion, a charming old house-for-hire, is as sweet as its namesake and filled with beautiful things at every turn. Half the fun is wending one's way up the stairs or out back and into the carriage house in search of jewels and shoe ornaments, and clothes handmade from vintage fabrics, and china bluebird salt shakers in every room. Organized by craft-market veterans Alissa Bush of Twirl Girl, Jennifer Carabetta of Dizzie Izzie and Mandy Yocom of Fern and Sprout, Sugar Plum not only boasts a well-curated mixture of vendors, but it's loaded with atmosphere and the lovely buzz of deals being made and beautiful things being considered, coveted and bought. And, you know, there's just something old-fashioned and sweet about that. Here's hoping the Sugar Plums dance on!

Tucked in the back room of Yellow Feather Coffee is a tiny record store run by Molly Zackary. Some people might remember Zackary for her long-running distro bearing the same moniker, or from running into her at punk and hardcore shows in years past at Double Entendre, Monkey Mania and elsewhere. Her friendly and gracious demeanor and sheer knowledge of the niche she's cultivating with her inventory is impressive. Growler is also one of the few stores in Denver to carry metal and hardcore vinyl. The record player in the corner is available to sample most, if not all, of what's in stock, and the small-press books and zines are always pleasantly surprising.

When Amelia Deleon couldn't find jewelry to fit her petite frame, she decided to make it herself. The craftswoman restrung some old pieces and made them new again, and Stranded Jewelry was born. After several successful private trunk shows, Deleon's friends urged her to take the one-of-a-kind vintage bead and stone creations public. Partnering with local businesses and hosting events at the (now) Gildar Gallery, Stranded has found its way onto the wrists of teenagers, moms, grandmothers and everyone between. Costume, minimal or formal, Deleon creates affordable bracelets, necklaces and earrings for all styles of women.

We've always admired the way the Pavilions management has been willing to stick its neck out by offering space to such indie enterprises as Cali & Mo, which launched its first store there five or so years ago. That practice, paired with a strong commitment to a core group of appealing national retailers, from the Gap to Forever 21, has kept the large holes left by the departing Virgin and Nike stores from bringing the whole place down. And in the last year or two, the Pavilions seems to be solidifying, rocking it on the strength of its Forever 21 superstore and the entry of H&M (which just added a new in-store Marni shoe shop) into the game. The Pavilions knows its place. It's not overwhelmingly large, and it has something for everyone, including a movie theater, a book store and a bowling alley. The mall also plays host to the annual Downtown Denver Arts Festival over Memorial Day weekend, as well as a number of offbeat events, such as last fall's Project Runway-style Cut 'n Sew: Yves Saint Laurent Challenge for local designers. Lastly, we simply love that the Denver Pavilions is downtown, adding its urban flavor to the 16th Street Mall experience.

Readers' Choice: Pearl Street Mall, Boulder

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