If clothes make the New Orleans (wo)man, that woman has a sense of style that is all her own, never mind what is trending anywhere else. Retro, yes, Goth, sure, flirty, definitely, vintage, natch. It's all here and fun for the browsing.
Retail has had a long and proud history in New Orleans, and there are still shops that date back generations. At Rubenstein’s on Canal, brothers Morris, Elkin and Sam first set up shop in 1924, beginning a tradition of bespoke fashion and European elegance that continues today.
In the French Quarter, where owner-operated retail stores are the norm, Chartres Street is the place to mine for owner-operated boutiques and discounted high fashion.
For that last minute Mardi Gras invitation, formals are de rigueur, so of course there are plenty of options when you need a fix of glitz. More good news: you can't over glam in this town, so bring on the sequins, pile on the glitter and strut your stuff.
This French Quarter gem owned by a mother/daughter team is simply wonderful. From locally made candles that make great gifts (try the King Cake and Coffee Beignet) to retro chic fashions and artsy voodoo doll, this tucked away boutique close to Canal Street is a must-shop. Another plus - as in size - the fun prints and vintage styles are cut for women with curves - yay! Prices can be a bit spendy, but there is a sales rack and the selection is so tempting. Even if you aren't buying an outfit, the trendy accessories will update your look for sure.
If you're part magpie, you don't want to miss Moonshine Nettie, one-stop vintage shop that clamors for attention thanks to glitz, glamour and sequins up one side and down the other. From classic pearl snap western shirts and flashy leopard coats to vintage jewelry, trinkets and accessories, this French Quarter shop is overflowing with authentic vintage style and charm. Whether shopping for everyday chic or building a decadently chaotic Mardi Gras outfit, customers are sure to find the perfect item at Moonshine Nettie. The fashionistas that own this sparkly boutique are always friendly and happy to help. Lots of fun little gift items too.
Fleurty Girl is wildly popular clothing and accessories shop with multiple locations and a decidedly local accent. The boutique's specialty is screen printed tees that feature New Orleans witticisms, catch phrases and pop culture references that make the shirts trendy yet timeless. Owner Lauren Thom started Fleurty Girl out of her house a while back, and her shirts have now become a staple around town (the "Free Payton" shirts became a city-wide hit, in reference to the football team's suspended coach). Beside shirts, there are hats, boots and other accessories, many featuring the New Orleans Saints football colors black and gold.
The Red Carpet is exactly what you'd imagine: a place to up your glam game to match any fine occasion. The store carries a huge inventory of dresses, lingerie and evening wear that can work for corporate, social or costume balls. Look for big names including Jovani and Sherri Hill, but there are dozens of other couture creators depending on the season. You'll find college girls in here trying things on for a formal while older divas are trying on wedding dresses on the other side. In both instances, helpful staff will be guiding and assisting every step of the way.
Miss Claudia's, located on funky Magazine Street is not your typical clothing store, though for the Big Easy this is run-of-the-mill. Miss Claudia's doubles as a vintage clothing store and a costume shop. They have many accessories and add-ons for perfecting evening wear or an eyebrow raising get up to wear for Carnival. From hats and gloves to retro jackets and feather masks this place has it all. The staff here is extremely friendly and prices are reasonable, with plenty of inventory to peruse. You'll need a little time to treasure hunt but the bounty will be worth the digging.
A Girl is a Gun is an Uptown clothing boutique on Magazine Street with one snappy motto: Dress to Kill. The boutique specializes in vintage style women's clothing to be worn for any occasion. The owner, Patricia, is always around and super helpful in sifting through the countless dresses to find the perfect one for you. There is nothing more New Orleans for a girl then dressing vintage, and A Girl is a Gun can hook you up in that department. And attention all body art fans, there are lots of flirty options on the racks for showing off your lovely tattoos.
Pied nu is the French phrase for bare foot, and when it comes to this shop, that bare foot is attached to somebody with gobs of effortless style. Although it has a small footprint, this shop pops with a large personality and a distinctive sensibility that is at once classic and modern. Expect a mix of high end designer duds and accessories ($635 wide lapel blazer by Áeron, $545 yak bag by Jamin Puech) with reasonably priced gift items sure to impress, delightables like kaffir lime scented candles and orange scented body lotion from Provence. You're sure to find something you didn't know you needed - including a swell selection of fancy sunglasses.
A standout among New Orleans clothing stores, Trashy Diva specializes in making and selling contemporary takes on vintage styles. This fashion-savvy boutique features a spectrum of detailed dresses, flattering lingerie, retro-inspired shoes and classic accessories, available in sizes for every woman, including babes with plenty of curves. Trashy Diva has achieved plenty of celebrity buzz since it opened its doors, with piqued interest from boutique stores worldwide and flagship store items being worn on numerous television shows and in several movies. And here are two words you need to know: stretch rayon. Body hugging styles that move when you do, it's a beautiful thing.
Rubensteins sets the standard for upscale menswear shopping in New Orleans. Other men's clothing stores may have let personal service slip over the years, but not this Canal Street classic. Rubensteins maintains the same remarkable service and quality guarantee that began when Morris Rubenstein first opened the store when Calvin Coolidge was in the White House. Special services include complimentary valet parking, personal shoppers, gift wrapping, free local delivery, made-to-measure suits and tailored clothing from top brands such as Brioni, Zegan, Armani, Contraire and Max Mara. Whether your style is buttoned up or funky, Rubensteins will make you feel like a million bucks.
United Apparel Liquidators (U.A.L.) on Chartres is the local location of the original store founded in Hattiesburg, Mississippi back in 1980. Now in three states with multiple locations, including this one in the French Quarter U.A.L. is a great place to browse. The concept is simple: the store trades in overstock from designers, showrooms and retailers at deep discounts. Though some French Quarter shops cater to the tourist market almost exclusively, U.A.L. is a place for regulars and locals who stop by frequently to see new merchandise. There is haute couture as well as soft cotton separates in bold colors, dark denim skinny jeans and discounted Jimmy Choos.