Fashionistas visiting Victoria must make a point of checking out the cute stores along Johnson Street, between Government Street and the ocean. This is Victoria's trendiest street, with lots of locally-owned boutiques selling everything from top-of-the-line vintage to fresh, one-off, custom-made designs. Check out Addiction for great sweaters and lace-trimmed tanks, visit Rebel Rebel for designer jeans and don't miss Graciela shoes for the best shoes from major brand names and a small but fabulous selection of of-the-minute accessories. Smoking Lily is a local favorite. This tiny store is only 44 square feet and holds two customers... which explains the queue! Check out their custom-made bags and silk-screened tops. For the #1 Best Body Scrub in the world, go to Free Spirit Botanicals (skip the overpriced Saltspring Island Soapworks), and for luxurious cosmetics visit Gloss Beauty Bar. If you're young and hip, Johnson Street is the place for you!
Still Life is a favourite clothing shop of mine in Victoria. It's a small boutique that sells contemporary clothing and accessories, ranging from dresses, skirts, and pants to shirts, jackets and handbags. While the store carries a lot of corporate labels like Diesel, they also carry a lot of independent Canadian designers that isn't as easily available. They even care their own designs.
What to buy: A lot of the clothing they stock in Still Life are comporarily artsy by nature. The last time I visited I bought a white hoodie with a drawing of a bird and blackberry leaves on the back. The nice thing about purchasing something from Still Life is that you're generally getting something unique.
What to pay: You'll pay a little bit more here than you would elsewhere. We're not talking haute couture prices, but many items sell for over $100.
Located in dumpy Tillicum Mall, Winners is Canada's equivalent of TJ Maxx. The racks are jam-packed with discounted merchandise that didn't sell at department stores, and new stuff arrives every week. You never know what you'll find at Winners, but expect a discount of anywhere from 10% to 50% off the original selling price. I recently saw a Michael Kors blazer for $120- less than half the regular retail price! Especially good deals can be found on underwear, handbags and sunglasses. Occasionally you can find better deals on the same stuff during department store seasonal clearance events, but most of the time Winners has the lowest price.
Winners also sells a limited selection of housewares and books.
This shop stocks used clothing, shoes and accessories for the larger woman (size 14 and up). Their prices are not rock-bottom but their stock is of very good quality.
What to buy: Designer label gently-used women's clothing, shoes and accessories.
What to pay: From 1/4 to 1/2 of what things were new.
My Sister's Closet is a very discerning but still reasonably priced consignment clothing store. They mostly carry women's clothing and given that they are in a fairly upscale neighbourhood you can get some awesome deals here if you are not adverse to buying used.
What to buy: Barely (if ever) worn designer label clothes for women. Vintage clothing. Good quality shoes and accessories.
What to pay: Anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 of what things were new.