Best Boutique for the Colorado Lifestyle 2014 | 32nd West | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword

Best Boutique for the Colorado Lifestyle

32nd West

As a Coloradan, sometimes you need to define both the mountain yin and urban yang of our lifestyle, which is exactly what 32nd West strives to do. A cousin of Evergreen's Boone Mountain Sports, this shop interweaves the active and the urban as suits its citified location, offering chic city wear alongside sturdy backpacks, sunglasses and classy, comfy boots for high-country excursions. Sporty and unpretentious, 32nd West goes both ways.

We took note when Boulder's Common Threads resale boutique opened a Denver annex a few years ago. But early this year, the upscale recycler took advantage of a vacancy next door to expand. That means that Common Threads can now also expand its already stellar easy-urban clothing racks to include the athletic wear and outdoor apparel that Coloradans are always looking for. In a world of rising prices and a new appreciation for repurposing and reuse, the move cements the boutique's place as a stalwart to count among South Pearl Street's row of classic shops.

Customer service is a distinguishing factor in the success of any boutique, and at Zoe's, it's clearly understood, because along with the West Wash Park shop's racks of high-end reruns, there's a personal touch you won't get just anyplace. The perks at Zoe's, the brainchild of mother-daughter Zoe and Harper Mance, include estate-liquidation services, closet consultations and a personal-shopping option, all for the asking. The Mances will also come to your home or office, by appointment, to buy your elegant castoffs and — this is our favorite — will host private shopping parties during which you and your friends can have the whole place to yourselves. Refreshments are part of the deal: Think Escada and piña colada!

If you're going to rock a look, men, you might as well do it right. Steadbrook, located in the hipster heart of the South Broadway shopping district, is your go-to when it comes to polishing yourself up, 21st-century style. What's good about it? Skinny pants, button-down shirts in subtle prints, earthy shoes, down-with-it headwear, masculine cosmetics and excellent man bags, to name a few things, but there's also a certain something in the careful curation of Steadbrook's merchandise — something skateboardy and street-elegant (yes, you can buy a skateboard there) — that lifts the cool right out of the air and slaps it down on your body. That much awesome comes at a price, but the way you'll feel walking out of the store with your new purchase is worth every penny.

Downtown Louisville is a sweet drag to explore anytime, but the recent debut of Found Above Ground, the menswear companion to the street's longstanding women's basement resale shop, Found Underground, makes it just that much sweeter, because, hell, yeah, men like to shop, too. Well, some of them. And even the naysayers who order their chinos twice a year from Land's End or sheepishly allow their women to dress them might find the store's curated clothing stash a reason to change their ways, because the prices are just that good, considering the quality of what's on the racks. "It's a really cool mixture of retro to vintage to cowboy cool to really chic Ralph Lauren cashmere coats," says Above Ground owner Lia Cooley, whose mother, Nancy, is the tasteful force behind Found Underground. But you'll also find trendy new items, from mustache wax to bow ties, and the store hosts monthly art shows featuring local artists. At Found Above Ground, shopping 'til you drop is a manly occupation.

Highland's Goldyn boutique has carved out an unusual niche since it opened a few years back, bringing up-and-coming and established designers to Colorado through its high-profile trunk shows. But what really sets the couture hub apart from the commercial pack is its thought-out collaborations with local artists. Photographer Kristen Hatgi-Sink has designed store windows for the shop, which has also exhibited her work. Goldyn also hosts regular shindigs where guests can peruse the latest in global fashion from Helmut Lang, Cartel Noir and Lizzie Fortunato while enjoying live music, expertly mixed cocktails and the occasional palm reading and manicure. Light-years ahead of the retail game in Colorado, Goldyn is more than just a store; it's a platform for art of all mediums.

Branding itself as the "revolutionary garment district" of Denver, Fashion Design Center Denver may only be a few months old, but the concept was a long time in the making. Westword's 2014 fashion MasterMind Lisa Ramfjord Elstun has long been an active participant in the local couture scene, but she saw the need for a place where up-and-coming designers could find everything they needed to create, produce and sell their own brands. Fashion Design Center Denver was born in late 2013, with Ramfjord Elstun at the helm and a handful of other Mile High fashion experts, such as Tricia Hoke, April Hoy and Stephanie Ohnmacht, all working to strengthen the connection between the designer's sketchbook and the showroom floor.

The hip boutiques that now proliferate on South Broadway and all over town clearly learned a few lessons from Stephanie Shearer and Chris Bacorn, who opened the Capitol Hill boutique Pandora an incredible twenty years ago, and its man-centric companion, Soul Haus, five years after that. Their formula of fashion, handcrafted jewelry, locally sourced vendors, retro cool and an appreciation of funnybone-tickling novelties ever changes...yet somehow never changes. Here's to twenty more.

Have truck, will travel: Adrian and Desiree Gallegos-Barragan first took to the roads in their plaid-painted Denver Fashion Truck last spring, driven by a stick-to-it spirit and a sense of adventure. Since then, the boutique-on-wheels has become a drive-up presence in trendy neighborhoods and at special events all over town. What makes the truck so darn great? Curation, for one thing: There's only so much you can stuff into a truck and have it look good when the crowds come filing in, and the Gallegos-Barragans' mix of hip, locally made clothing and accessories, vintage pretties, home-design items and just plain fun stuff seems to come together perfectly every time, in just the right amounts. Where's the Denver Fashion Truck going to park today? Keep up with its travels on Twitter, where changing locations are posted regularly.

Stu and Nicky Alden of the Ink Lounge, an Overland screen-printing and design shop, threw their first Holiday Mancraft in 2011 as an alternative to the female-centric craft markets they'd participated in as both vendors and customers. In doing so, they tapped a whole new holiday clientele — guys who love to swill a little beer while shopping and are maybe looking for something handmade for their man caves. To be fair, Holiday Mancraft also attracts gift-buying women and couples — its selection is just that egalitarian and downright good — and because of its unique appeal, the market has grown larger each year. This December's promises to be the biggest yet: Ink Lounge, which is moving to larger quarters itself, is still looking for the perfect space for Holiday Mancraft 2014.

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