The fourth largest city in the nation, Houston is arguably the style capital of the South. It’s home to a Project Runway winner and more than a dozen distinct shopping areas, with retail that runs the gamut from vintage to high-end designer.
The Galleria: Multi-taskers and shopaholics rejoice in the glory of the Galleria and its 375-plus stores and grand ice rink, flanked by Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Macy’s. Akin to New York’s Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills–with shops like Louis Vuitton, Montblanc, Chanel, Gucci and Versace–the sprawling mall also has hip designer boutiques like Tory Burch and Henri Bendel, plus J. Crew, Lululemon and and Aveda.
Highland Village: Drive into the palm tree-lined shopping center and take advantage of complimentary valet service for a totally different shopping experience, just a short drive from The Galleria. You’ll find BHLDN, Anthropologie, Kiehl’s, West Elm, Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware’s The Gallery at Highland Village.
Uptown Park: Snag a space in front of your favorite hot spot and walk anywhere you want to go in this convenient arrangement of boutiques, restaurants, spas and wine and sports bars. More than 50 shops dot the chic shopping destination, including Longoria Collection, The University of Texas Co-Op, M Penner, Crave Cupcakes, Berripop, The Tasting Room and Baker Furniture.
River Oaks Shopping Center: Built in 1927 and made over in 2007, River Oaks was the first “shopping center” in Houston and one of the first in the country to cater to cars. With Art Deco-style and the glam Landmark River Oaks Theatre marquee to welcome shoppers, prepare for 322,000 square feet of retail therapy in a posh neighborhood. There are 14 restaurants and 76 stores like Brasserie 19, Americas, Events, Mia Bridal Couture, Design Within Reach, Sur La Table and Luke’s Locker (for custom-fit sneakers).
West Ave: Set at the crossroads of Upper Kirby and River Oaks, Houston’s West Ave development brings together luxury residences, retail and fine dining options. The pedestrian-friendly urban village has drawn some of the city’s most talented, along with highly-regarded regional and national brands to create a hub of fashion, dining and nightlife. The art-deco-inspired development–which offers 195,000 square feet of retail space–is home to luxury retailers including Q Custom Clothier, Rye 51 and Ivory Bridal Atelier. Tootsies, a Houston-based luxury retailer of women’s clothing, serves as West Ave’s anchor store, occupying an entire city block.
Rice Village: In this quaint cluster of shops and restaurants, which is tucked away a few blocks from the Rice University campus, expect to find the latest from local fashionistas like Alexandra Knight and Elaine Turner, a chic accessories designer, and Project Runway winner Chloe Dao’s world-renowned Dao Chloe Dao boutique. Other tenants include Half-Price Books and staples like Victoria’s Secret, Chico’s and Banana Republic.
Downtown: The Shops at Houston Center house a variety of retailers–from Jos. A Banks Clothiers to Dress Barn–and at nearby GreenStreet, find stores like Forever 21.
Westheimer Curve: Lower Westheimer, also known as the Westheimer Curve, is a winding road of offbeat and sometimes amazing shopping. You never know what surprise piece you’ll find at Buffalo Exchange, a thrift shop that mixes street clothes with last season’s designer duds.
Historic Heights: Surround yourself with the charm of Victorian houses and quaint streets (19th St., Yale and Studewood) while shopping the eclectic fashion, furniture, art and gifts in one of the most historic ‘hoods in Houston. Score vintage fashion at Retropolis and Buffalo Exchange, kitchen accoutrements at Penzey’s Spices, as well as furniture finds at Antiques on 19th and Historic Heights Antiques.
CityCentre: Set in the former Town & Country Mall location in West Houston, the 37-acre, contemporary community blends retail, restaurant, office space, luxury living and nightlife in an open-air environment. Hip restaurants were some of the first on the stellar culinary scene, while Anthropologie, Elaine Turner and J. Crew add to the retail side.
Harwin: A treasure trove of designer look-a-likes, this no-frills shopping area in the southwest part of town is the place to find an ever-changing inventory of bags, shades, perfumes, electronics and more – for less. There are bargains galore, and you’ll even find vendors willing to wheel and deal on prices, but you won’t find restrooms or dressing rooms. Check out the new Harwin Central Mart.
Houston Premium Outlets: One of the newest additions to the city’s retail spectrum is a designer discount haven in the Cypress suburb, just off Highway 290. Minutes outside of Houston, 120 big-name outlet stores await. Highlights include Burberry, Brooks Brothers, Harry & David, Michael Kors, Johnston & Murphy, Waterford and Puma.
Katy Mills Mall: A mammoth mall 25 miles west of downtown, Katy Mills is a whopping 1.3 million square feet of retail and fun under one roof. Shop more than 200 stores, including Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Off Fifth, Banana Republic, Polo Ralph Lauren and Nike Factory Stores. Be sure to taste in-Texas-only Blue Bell ice cream.