Trip Guides

Swanky, Unconventional, Vintage: <br>Shopping Eclectic in Texas

Texas is home to a wide range of personalities, from sophisticate, rocker, and academic to hippie, historian, cowboy, and nerd. As a result, the stores, boutiques, studios, and street fairs in the state offer an equally eclectic mix of goods and services. So whether you’re shopping for upscale or “far out,” you’ll find it in Texas.

Photo credit: Matthew Whalen

“On Dallas’s more ‘bohemian’ east side, I visited Lower Greenville and found a stretch of interesting spots that included Lula B’s, a retro-focused antiques mall, and the Ole Moon and Other Tales, showcasing art and handmade jewelry.”

“Filled with home decor and accessories, Bliss [in Houston] held me spellbound with indulgent bath goodies, dazzling table lamps, and the cutest-ever baby gifts. At the end of the day, I met friends at Shade for empanadas and martinis.”


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Shopping is an ongoing odyssey—a magical adventure filled with discovery, emotion, strategy, and surprise. As luck would have it, my work takes me to several different cities around Texas, giving me the opportunity to explore everything from pricey boutiques to bargain basements.

So, trust me when I say that whether you’re looking for designer clothing, vintage collectibles, distinctive home accents, or “nothing in particular,” there’s a store in Texas that offers it. The following are a few of my favorites, along with some delightful first-time finds.

Houston

The historic Heights neighborhood is overflowing with unique storefronts. Wandering through the 19th Street Shopping District, I saw a number of vintage clothing and collectibles stores, and then I found Bliss. Filled with home decor and accessories, Bliss held me spellbound with indulgent bath goodies, dazzling table lamps, and the cutest-ever baby gifts. At the end of the day, I met friends at Shade for empanadas and martinis.

When I asked my clotheshorse friends about unique boutiques, they told me to take a walk—or at least I thought they did, until I followed their directions and found Cakewalk Style Shop. Here were designer collections like Diane von Furstenberg, Joie, and Tibi, as well as extraordinary costume jewelry to complement those fancy frocks.

Right next door to Cakewalk was Pomp & Circumstance, a store that also carried a wonderful selection of designer clothing, but the styles were more casual and the price points a bit kinder to my wallet.

Dallas

Spurred on by my fashionable finds in Houston, I was looking forward to shopping in Dallas, a city with a high-style reputation.

Big D did not disappoint. I found a designer boutique as well. Pearl Southern Couture, a clothes line designed by Dallas native Amber Perley, offered sophistication mixed with flirty fun, perfectly mirroring Southern women and the cities they love.

The store showcased dresses, blazers, and more with simple, classic lines and unexpected accents like off-the-shoulder ruffles or a handwoven neckpiece. My favorite was a long slip dress that laid silk chiffon over a metallic pink lining.

On Dallas’s more “bohemian” east side, I visited Lower Greenville and found a stretch of interesting spots that included Lula B’s, a retro-focused antiques mall, and the Ole Moon and Other Tales, showcasing art and handmade jewelry.

I also discovered Dolly Python, one of the biggest and most diverse vintage consignment shops I’d ever seen. Dolly’s had a fabulous collection of old cowboy boots, mid-century furniture, antique clothing, vintage vinyl, and much, much more. I knew I’d have to go back when I had time—and a bigger house to accommodate all my funky finds.

Before leaving Dallas, I couldn’t resist a quick run through the Bishop Arts District, a revitalized area of Old Oak Cliff that is now home to more than 60 independently owned shops, restaurants, and galleries.

Austin

Talking about revitalized neighborhoods, East Austin fits the bill. Recently “hipster-ized,” it’s a mix of delightfully decorated food trucks and abundantly cool stores.

Stunning one-of-a-kind engagement and wedding rings were available from Dean Fredrick’s East Fifth Street studio, and I found an intriguing mix of independent designer clothing in a small white bungalow with a sign that simply said, “Olive.” Besides the new clothing, owner (photographer and stylist) Laura Uhlir edits a collection of classics, including perfectly shabby denim and well-worn leather jackets.

South Congress Avenue in Austin is another great place to find unusual buys. I stopped in for a quick pizza lunch at Home Slice before heading over to Yard Dog gallery, an incessantly eye-catching retail showcase for folk art, contemporary art, and “outsider” art. Just down the street was Uncommon Objects, a massive emporium of individual antiques vendors that kept me fascinated for a good two hours. I walked out with a handful of early-20th-century postcards and an antique Limoges box topped with a Deco-style scarab.

San Antonio

Just 90 miles south of Austin, San Antonio is known for its River Walk. While there are great stores and restaurants there, I’d heard about Melissa Guerra, a marketplace for lovers of Mexican food, of which I am definitely one.

Located in the newly renovated Pearl Brewery complex, Melissa Guerra was like nothing I’d ever seen, pulling all the wonderful things about Mexico and Latin America into one place. Along with traditional Latin American kitchen tools like molcajetes (stone mortars) and tortilla presses, I found a mouthwatering selection of chiles, chocolates, and spices.

My #TexasToDo

Texas has a happy obsession with outdoor antiques fairs. First Monday Trade Days in Canton is the oldest, established in 1850, and actually occurs the weekend before the first Monday of the month. The largest is the Round Top Antiques Fair, which sprawls across several small towns and attracts more than 100,000 shoppers at shows in the spring and fall.

Featured in this Trip

Shopping Shopping
Prairies & Lakes Prairies & Lakes
South Texas Plains South Texas Plains

Fun Fact:

Austin’s South Congress Avenue (SoCo) is lined with eclectic shops, hip hotels, and one-of-a-kind restaurants, and on every First Thursday (of the month) they all open their doors and stay up late—most until 10 p.m., some later—to welcome shoppers, browsers, or the curious newcomer. It’s like one big block party, a fun evening for all ages.

Austin

Originally called Waterloo, this city was renamed to honor Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas.” Today, the city bills itself as the “Live Music C...

Dallas

When John Neely Bryan laid claim to this area and built a single log cabin, he envisioned a commerce center that capitalized on the land and its river...

San Antonio

Spanish explorers established the Mission San Antonio de Valero (later called the Alamo) and Presidio San Antonio de Bexar (Bay-her) in 1718. Now the...

South Congress

Also called SoCo, this stretch of Congress Avenue is lined with quirky shops, trendy dining, unique accommodations and art galleries. On "First Thursd...


Texas Monthly
Texas Monthly is an authority on the Texas scene, covering music, the arts, travel, restaurants, museums, and cultural events since 1973.
Suzanne Stavinoha
Suzanne Stavinoha is a freelance writer based in Houston. While she's lived in New York and Los Angeles, she's a proud native Texan, and loves to travel the Lone Star State…and Italy whenever possible.