Toronto’s best stores for womenswear right now
373 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-878-7088
This Roncey shop sells earthy household items—beeswax candles, organic hair oils—and breezy workout pieces that could easily pass for out-to-dinner ensembles. Standouts include stretchy draped dresses by Quebec designer Travis Taddeo, hand-dyed tunics from Daub and Design, and tight-weave leggings from Lucas Hugh, the British brand behind Katniss’s badass bodysuit in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
129 Ossington Ave., 416-588-6978
This two-year-old boutique resembles Zooey Deschanel’s closet, with sparkly vintage baubles and girlie dresses spilling out from the racks. But the frills and flounces are well balanced by bold details: a thigh-skimming Birds of North America shift dress, for example, comes in a bold black-and-white graphic, and necklaces pair brass chains with raw gemstones. Most pieces are Canadian made, including feminine frocks from Valerie Dumaine and tasselled leather purses from Toronto label Eleven Thirty.
Blue Button Shop
1499 Dundas St. W., 647-606-3270
Blue Button is Toronto’s first store dedicated to the Japanese otona trend, a grown-up aesthetic that incorporates lots of muted colours, stripes and natural fabrics. Much of the stuff is unisex—as is the norm in otono shops in Japan—so it’s not unusual to spot a couple both trying on the same Indian-dye patchwork scarf. Tuque-sporting hipsters snap up practical accessories like tough canvas totes, vintage-inspired eyewear and delicate spring socks from the Japanese brand Kapital.
754 Queen St. W., 416-363-7676
Owners Jennifer Shotbolt and Daniela Figliomeni have a ton of luxury retail experience at places like Dior and Michael Kors. After noticing a dearth of cultish international labels in Toronto, the partners travelled to Australia Fashion Week to suss out brands that fit their aesthetic: trendy without trying too hard. They came back with cut-out dresses, minimalist outerwear and comfy athleisure gear—from Aussie labels such as Georgia Alice, with its tomboy denim robes and floaty crop tops. Shoppers can pull together an outfit for less than $500.
215 Ossington Ave., 416-551-3321
This place is devoid of pink satin, three-way mirrors and everything else you’d expect from a typical bridal boutique—which is precisely the appeal. Wedding consultations happen in the Haven, a romantic tented lair in the back, where brides-to-be can peruse racks of lace-trimmed gowns from contemporary designers like Stone Fox Bride, Mira Mandic and Rue de Seine. Most gowns are priced between $1,700 and $6,000; consultations are by appointment. The rest of the store is stocked with carefully chosen accessories, like retro-inspired lingerie from Toronto label Fortnight and festival-worthy flower crowns—an absolute must for any bohemian bride.
1250 Yonge St., 416-901-7309
Run by mom-and-daughter duo Evelina and Barbara Kuczer, this Rosedale boutique caters to local moms and their teenage progeny. The racks are packed with practical work staples and younger, more bohemian pieces (tie-dyed dresses, fringed leather vests) from an eclectic mix of mid-range brands, like Denmark-based InWear and Germany’s Comma. The bestseller to date: Sanctuary’s tailored cropped cargo pants, worn by celebrities like Jennifer Aniston.
Kit and Ace
779 Queen St. W.; 102 Bloor St. W.; 844-548-6223
Shannon Wilson, the former head designer for Lululemon (and wife of the company’s founder, Chip Wilson), opened two Kit and Ace shops in Toronto. The brand specializes in luxury loungewear—T-shirts, tanks and leggings—made from qemir, a fabric that’s supremely soft and conveniently machine washable. The basics are made for stylish layering and designed for comfort—they come with smooth seams and removable tags.
Oak and Fort
666 Queen St. W., 647-350-9199; Shops at Don Mills, 12 Karl Fraser Rd., 647-341-9199; Eaton Centre, 220 Yonge St., 416-205-9199
When this Vancouver company launched in 2010, it won over professional women and young style bloggers alike. Now that several stores have opened in Toronto, we see why West Coasters were so enthusiastic about the brand. The breezy, minimalist designs come in shades of black, white, grey and beige, making them great for layering and extremely versatile: sleeveless dresses and tunics are office appropriate and still cool enough to wear on weekends.