I’ve written before about being a High Street devotee. It’s true; my wardrobe is a homage to Cos, Zara and Topshop. I’ve never been a label snob and never will be; I buy pieces not brands and I judge every item on the quality of finish and the cut, regardless of where I find it. But peppered among those High Street picks are my boutique finds – a well curated wardrobe is not made up of High Street alone (or in my view, designer alone).
I’m a little like a proud mother in that I love all my clothes equally, but what boutique buys offer, which neither High Street or department stores do, are special memories of the purchase itself. The leisurely browsing; the calm, curated environment; the chat and banter that inevitably evolves, not just with salespeople, but with other customers too. There’s something about the intimacy of a boutique environment coupled with the knowledge that everyone there shares a similar aesthetic that invites conversation.
My most recent boutique buy was in Milan last week. I came upon a gorgeous independent store selling handmade Italian leather bags and shoes. No two pieces there were the same, so the handbag I chose is a completely unique piece. The store owner was as stylish as her products and she and I had great chats as I tried on several different bags before choosing the one I had originally spotted when I walked through the front door. Isn’t that always the way.
Some of my most precious boutique buys include a statement necklace found in Galway more than ten years ago, my first pair of Seven For All Mankind jeans, courtesy of an independent store in Holland Park in London way back in the early noughties; a seventies-style handbag from a pre-loved store called Bang Bang, again in London; and an incredible pair of white leather shoes from one of my local boutiques.
Neither our High Streets nor our wardrobes would be as beautiful or as interesting if it wasn’t for the kind of independent boutiques we’re championing with the IMAGE Boutique Awards. CLICK HERE TO CAST YOUR VOTE and give a shout out to your favourite Irish boutique.