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Style by Neighborhood: Washington Avenue

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Washington Avenue is known as one of the main veins of downtown St. Louis nightlife with trendy bars and restaurants peppered throughout, including Rosalita’s, the Dubliner and the Jive and Wail. This bustling nightlife is also home to on-trend and unique boutiques that bring some spunk to Washington Avenue’s classy clientele.

 

Collective MX, a recent addition to the popular downtown shopping district and retail co-op, offers items from 35 nationwide vendors. (Anne Keppler/Staff Writer)

Collective MX

The newest edition to the Washington Avenue shopping district, Collective MX, opened on Oct. 29, 2012 according to the company’s Facebook page.

The unique shopping concept is housed in the new Mercantile Exchange building, which is one of St. Louis’ newest shopping, dining and entertainment destinations.

Collective MX, 626 Washington Ave., opened Oct. 29 in the up-and-coming Mercantile Exchange area and provides clothing, gifts, accessories and houseware. (Anne Keppler/Staff Writer)

The large, pristine, white studio space is decorated with battered wood fixtures to give a new-meet-homegrown vibe to the studio. Rather than being a specialized boutique, director and managing curator Nicole Benoist wanted to bring a fresh concept to the downtown St. Louis shopping scene.

The retail co-op of 35 different stores give shoppers a real sampling flavor of what different St. Louis boutiques have to offer, with miniature stands seamlessly blended together into one large studio space.

“Collective is a curated mix of the best of St. Louis shopping,” Benoist said. “It’s a convenient outlet that boutiques spread out around St. Louis can use to reach more people. We’re conveniently close to the convention center so visitors can stop in and get a taste of different St. Louis boutiques after an event.”

Vendors from Chicago, L.A.  and all around the U.S. are also invited to rent out space to get their brands some exposure.

As shoppers can tell from perusing the wide variety of unique clothing, gifts, accessories and housewares, Collective is all about small business exposure and provides its clientele with unique and trendy products.

St. Louis map jewelry, Alternative Earth pillow-soft, organic lounge clothes, unique kids toys, vintage pin-up bathing suits with daringly low necklines, tweed and pleather cocktail dresses and old fashioned apothecary-style soaps all have homes in a cohesive amalgamation of small businesses; it’s definitely worth a look when you need something unique and the Galleria and Plaza Frontenac just don’t cut it.

 

A colorful, leopard sweater and skirt outfit on display at CLR-MNSTR, located at 1300 Washington Ave., showcases the artistic vibe of the store and on-trend circle skirt. (Anne Keppler/Staff Writer)

CLR-MNSTR

Step into this funky boutique and art space, which opened its doors on July 20, 2012, for a unique collection of fashionable clothing, jewelry and shoes.

Bright canvas paintings for sale speckle the walls as racks of trendy clothing pack into the cozy boutique. Vintage burnt orange armchairs displayed with tongue-in-cheek machine gun printed pillows serve as the perfect resting spot for fatigued shoppers or an easy way to try on a new pair of spiked heels.

If spiked heels aren’t quite your style, CLR-MNSTR has a wide array of wedge sneakers, Jeffrey Campbell sky-high heels and the infamous JC Litas boots, which are making their rounds in the fashion blogosphere.

The plethora of funky and fashionable clothing pieces can add some spice to your wardrobe. One of the refreshing parts about CLR-MNSTR is that they try to include local vendors and artists in what they sell in the store.

Light brown paper bag waist trousers sit on a rack next to a handful of crimson velvet pencil skirts from St. Louis’ designer, Blue Bird Apparel. A table has spike-shouldered denim vests next to a leather motorcycle vest and a striped cotton T-shirt.

The jewelry section is also definitely worth a stop in the boutique. There’s a mix of skulls, crosses, studs, collar necklaces and body harnesses that would delight any funky fashion jewelry connoisseur.

Presently, there is a hefty sized, 50 percent off rack prices that enables trendiness no matter what the budget is, although many of the items range from about $10-$100.

Men, never fear! Lovers of cheeky graphic tees, like those seen at Urban Outfitters, should check out the CLR-MNSTR selection for a less mass produced look.

 

The shop of Eve’s Apple Vintage, 1136 Washington Ave., has a romantic vibe while the stock ranges from delicate to outrageous. (Anne Keppler/Staff Writer)

Eve’s Apple Vintage

This boutique with funky purple walls and a darling velvet chaise with throw pillows included a cozy collection of some solid vintage pieces that allow you to bypass digging through thrift stores for those cute “golden nugget” pieces that surface every once in a blue moon.

Prices start around $16, making this vintage outlet very college student friendly, although it is important to note that all sales are final.

The vintage clothing ranges from a variety of eras, start with the 1940s and going up all the way through the 1990s.

Flirty sundresses, a blue leather jacket, an acid wash skirt, a white crochet blouse with cutout sleeves, sequined 80’s tees and funky belts all come together in Eve’s Apple Vintage.

They also carry a variety of vintage bustiers; from lace-up, to lace, to neon stripes, there’s bound to be a layering piece that you love thrown in the mix.

Eve’s Apple Vintage also caters to the stylish men of St. Louis with a wide variety of vintage blazers. Elbow patches, tweed, corduroy, houndstooth— you name it and they probably have it, but without the outrageous price tag from a department store. Being classy never has never been so affordable.

Eve’s Apple Vintage also contains a variety of men’s cardigans and sweaters, which would be ideal to stock up on now that the weather has taken a crisp turn.

There’s also a collection of beat-up leather cowboy boots for men who want to forgo the painful process of breaking in a new pair.

 

Get the look

While Washington Avenue is spotted with a variety of boutiques, there is not a cohesive “look” that each boutique strives to live up to, which is what makes this strip of road such an interesting shopping destination.

Definitely shooting for a more edgy-cosmopolitan look with spunky details enables one to fit in with the young, trendy, downtown crowd.

Zebra-patterned smoking loafers, a flirty lacey white shift dress and a studded-shoulder leather motorcycle vest with a slouchy light brown leather cross-body bag would be a great comfy, yet trendy outfit with a handful of sass, to wear while perusing the shops on Washington Avenue. It’s that little kick of spunk and uniqueness that adds the Washington Avenue feel.

Better yet, this look could easily be worn for appetizers or cocktails after a tiring shopping day downtown.

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