showcasing the best of the south west

Top 10 Boutiques in the South West

Pictured: Anna Lizzio, Tetbury

Where to shop outside London, away from the homogenised high street? Stylist and personal shopper Laura Campbell guides you to her top 10 favourite boutiques in the South West.

 Grace & Mabel, Bristol

This shop is always my first port of call when looking for something very different to what’s offered anywhere else in Bristol. It’s a great place to go if you want the more cool and quirky labels of the moment, from Antik Batik, Vanessa Bruno and Marlene Birger to Manoush, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel and Rutzou. It’s run by three style-savvy sisters Shelley, Dany and Kirstie who each divide their time between the Bristol and Bath stores so get to know their clientele very well and offer friendly, practical advice to anyone needing it. The trio all have very different tastes – think boho, eclectic and sharp – so all areas are pretty much covered. There’s also a very user-friendly website. 17 Regent Street, Clifton Village, Bristol 0117 9743882 7 Broad Street, Bath 01225 461274 

Ooh La La, Bristol

Women need good underpinnings and we all know that our French counterparts have got this part of everyday dressing totally sewn up. Beyond London’s Rigby & Peller, there’s no one better to advise us on our curves (and how to contain them) than Mama, the wonderful French owner of this adorable lingerie shop. Originally from Toulouse but propelled here by her love of the English language, Mama came over to these shores 19 years ago, opening her shop in 2003. It’s a cosy, intimate boutique in a little private, off-piste location in Clifton. Along with her sister Karine, Mama encourages women of all shapes and sizes to salute and celebrate their femininity – to feel sexy, and above all comfortable. The sisters’ wisdom, warmth and welcoming attitude makes for the ideal place to find the perfect underwear – labels such as Marie Jo, Chantelle, Panache and Passionata. There, I’ve now exposed my best kept lingerie secret. 31 The Mall, Clifton Village, Bristol 0117 9237008  

Mee Boutique, Bath

Mee Boutique Bath

Located on a pretty cobbled street, Mee Boutique – all white washed walls and floors - is a great find for those who love beautiful, well-made clothes that look and feel fabulous. Owner Emma Mandell-Lynn cherry-picks a well thought out collection that includes flattering Hudson jeans, pretty Milly blouses and dresses, knitwear by Christopher Fischer and Attic & Barn and shape-enhancing So Couture dresses (Nigella snapped up 30 to enhance her svelte figure for her TV show Nigellisima.) Also on offer are accessories by Lamb (Pippa Middleton is a big fan of their bags), lingerie, swimwear, tights, belts, jewellery and there’s a whole area devoted to jaw-dropping shoes. For Emma, looking good goes hand in hand with smelling good and so she ensures there are exotic scented candles and fragrances on offer. One in particular, Molecule 01 perfume, is a distinctive and seductive scent that acts with your pheromones and has had fumeheads rushing to get their mitts on a bottle. Apparently new, unsuspecting customers have even been lured into the shop by the woody smell and inquired about it. So much so, it’s selling like hot cakes. The rest of us nose-twitchers, will simply have to join the waiting list…impatiently. 9A Bartlett Street, Lower Lansdown, Bath 01225 442250 

Foundation, Cheltenham

If you want a beautifully edited selection of clothes, accessories and homeware in a relaxed and friendly environment, pinpoint your SatNav here. Owners Gemma and James Wiseman are former designers for Mulberry, Arcadia (think TopShop etc), Conran and Boden, so can spot a good look at fifty paces. First opening in Stow-on-the-Wold in 2003, the second store followed two years later in Chetlenham, which is a lovely place to shop. The husband-and-wife team must be doing something right as in 2010 they were awarded UK Womenswear Retailer of the Year. You will find covetable labels Marlena Birger, Libelula (the Duchess of Cambridge is a fan), Nicole Farhi, Goat, Marilyn Moore, Hoss Intropia, Samantha Sung, J&M Davidson, Paige Denim  and Hartford. There is also footwear by Penelope Chilvers, ASH Shoes, Lola Cruz and Bloch. Gemma and James help clients build their own style and take it the extra mile by offering home visits and will open out of hours for special in-store appointments. And if the SatNav’s on strike, online shopping’s available. 22 Montpelier Walk, Cheltenham 01242 232777 The Square, Stow-on-the-Wold 01451 832453 

Prey, Bath

I rarely go to Bath without nipping in here. If you love colour, texture, pattern and a homespun feel over making a big fashion statement, head to Prey. Since opening the two-floor shop in 2003, owners Geraldine and John Sanglier have focused on showcasing designers who have a background in textiles such as print specialists Neisha Crosland and Orla Kiely. It’s always worth having a good rummage through their rails (and don’t forget to have a snoop upstairs). You will find digital print pieces by Maliparmi, Antoni & Alison and Pazuki alongside knitwear by Muir & Osborne. And if you’re not in the mood for clothes shopping, check out Prey’s own award-winning soaps, stationery and homeware such as handmade face cloths, vintage fabric coat hangers and hot water bottles which make for unusual, well crafted presents. York Street, Bath 01225 329933 

Heartfelt, Clifton Down, Bristol

This is a lovely vintage clothing shop in a quiet backwater of Clifton. The interior is lit by chandeliers and decorated with flea market finds. Everything is beautifully laid out with colour-coded clothes on different rails. There are glass cabinets filled with sparkling costume jewellery, old fashioned mannequins modelling elaborate dresses and shelves displaying leather bags, sunglasses, corsages, silk and beaded shoes, conch and top hats. On a recent visit I found a lovely boho cream felt hat, a pinstripe cap and a pair of stripy cropped trousers. Mandy the owner is a livewire and has been in the business of all things vintage for 35 years, cutting her teeth at Covent Garden Market after she left school. She is based part of the time in France and brings over stock from there. She designs her own label, makes hats, does felting and customisation and makes bespoke clothing for clients. She also hosts vintage tea parties, live music and theatre events. And as if that isn’t enough, she has just opened Wild At Heart in the centre of Bristol – an emporium decorated with mirrors and taxidermy offering men’s and womenswear, a hair salon, holistic beauty treatments, florist, shoe shine boy and a café complete with a barista. Here she hosts tango nights and all sorts and you get the feeling there’s no end to all the fun. Heartfelt – 32 Alma Vale Road, Clifton, Bristol 0117 904 2898 Wild at Heart – 51 Broad Street, Bristol – 0117 239 1613

Coco Blue Boutique, Taunton, Somerset

coco blue cashmere

Not necessarily known for its sartorial possibilities, I was surprised to stumble across this chic shop in Taunton – an independent boutique that’s worth a diversion. It’s co-owned by two sisters who wanted to offer practical, everyday clothes that wouldn’t look out of place on the boulevards of Paris. After having twins and in need of a boost, Sarah, one half of the duo behind Coco Blue, was on the hunt for flattering jeans, great knitwear, gorgeous boots, belts and scarves – nothing deemed too smart or office-like. But finding no local joy for such things she decided to open shop with her sibling Kellie. It was a wise move and the familial collaboration has proved successful. The Fiorentini & Baker boots are currently flying out the door and according to Sarah are “simply the best boots you will ever find.” Having had no fashion training and little retail experience, the pair rely on “simply following our nose” which takes them to Paris and London to uncover unusual brands and desirable clothes including Handwritten by Tania Sarne (the woman who launched Ghost), Made In Heaven, Transit, Frou Frou and By Zoe. What caught my eye are coats with sequin collars, jackets with patch pockets, drape-fronted trousers and folky print tops. Next time I head to Devon I will tag on an extra hour because I know the detour into Taunton town will be well worth it. In the meantime I’ll have to be content with noodling around on their efficient-running website. 8 Bath Place, Taunton 01823 338399 

Poot, Frome

As a huge fan of unique, one-off pieces I can’t resist sneaking in another vintage shop. At Poot you can find everything fabulous, from the roaring Twenties (beautiful beaded flapper dresses) via the ultra-feminine Forties (tea dresses galore) to the vibrant Seventies (think boho dresses and fringed jackets). Owner Hayley ensures everything in the shop is wearable so you won’t don something ancient and delicate that immediately falls apart on its first outing in your ownership. Also don’t come here hoping for an outlandish metallic space suit and multi-coloured platform clodhoppers; the stock is more everyday clothes and accessories that can be worn on a daily basis, rather than fancy dress. Unlike some vintage stores that just house mainly musky antique garb with no real theme, here everything is hand-picked carefully and a beady eye is kept on fashion so you can find pieces that echo what’s currently hot at the moment – a biker jacket for example, sexy tweed or a pair of brogues. Designer Pearl Lowe and her model daughter Daisy are regulars as are the trendy Bruton-ites who live nearby. 23 St Catherine’s Hill, Frome 07905 899514

Spirit, Devizes, Wiltshire  

Spirit Boutique, Devizes, Wiltshire

I first became aware of Spirit about 5 years ago when a well-dressed friend of mine used to rock up wearing funky, very un-country-style clothing and by that I mean, her look had an edge. She was based in Devizes and she certainly wasn’t about to melt into the striped and polka-dotted Boden-to-Toast landscape. While the mainstay stock at Spirit is not groundbreaking or unusual – In Wear, Great Plains, Sandwich and Part Two – they do provide cool labels too such as Isabel de Pedro, Save The Queen, Desigual, Almost Famous, Vero Moda, Carlopik and Lauren Vidal. What I like about small town-based shops like this is the customer care really exists and it makes the whole experience of shopping that much more enjoyable. Browsers and shoppers alike are treated like acquaintances; there is none of the sometimes snooty, we-know-best attitude you might find in the grander stores of London. And the good news is, with a branch in Marlborough and another in Bradford-on-Avon, Spirit is fairly accessible for those based in the wild, wild west. Old Swan Yard, High Street, Devizes 01380 729933 112 High Street, Marlborough 01672 516668 7 Silver Street, Bradford on Avon 01225 898899 

Anna Lizzio, Tetbury

This is a wonderful shop. It’s hard to go in and not be tempted by something (and, frankly, a great excuse to go into the corrugated iron changing rooms). In my humble opinion, Jane the owner has exquisite taste – the overall look is chic (and casual) but by no means boring. The quality of the fabrics, prints and colours – some subtle, others with just the right amount of zing – are spot-on. This season there are beautiful silk and cotton shirts (Hunkydory, Custommade, American Vintage, Christophe Sauvat)  – perfect to wear over a pair of well cut trousers with funky stripes down each side (Sziggy, Shine) and topped off with chocolate and neon Chelsea boots (Penelope Chilvers); and there are tunic dresses (Bellerose, Odd Molly) that would look great layered over patterned woolly tights, a lightweight knit (Luna Bi, Just In Case, Sziggy) and a printed cotton scarf (Beck Sondergaard). High on my list is a fantastic shaggy rock’n’roll coat that can be thrown on over a pair of old jeans or worn with shorts and boots. These designs suit most ages and most shapes. As you can see on the website, Jane models all the clothes herself and proves you can have great style and flair just with a few clever tricks – by donning a trilby, juxtaposing pattern or it breaking up with muted-coloured knitwear. 59 Long Street, Tetbury 01666 500077  I haven’t yet had a chance to visit these other independent boutiques, however, they come highly recommended:

  • Juniper, 21-23 Church Street, Calne
  • Eden Rose, 11 St Mary Street, Chepstow
  • Coco Boutique, 9 Gandy Street, Exeter
  • Onda Boutique, Victory Steps, Victory Hill, St Mawes

Laura is a writer, stylist & personal shopper. See www.campbellstyle.com for more info

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