It's all about craftsmanship for Sophie Hughes, who uses recycled precious metals and reclaimed diamonds to fashion each of her masterpieces by hand. The MassArt grad, whose boutique also proffers work from other local artisans, continues to win us over with her moon-shaped earrings, pared-down necklaces, and graceful bangles. 80 Dartmouth St., Boston, MA 02116, sophiehughes.com.
Memories fade, but photographs last forever. Thankfully, you can trust Cambria Grace to be everywhere you are and everywhere you can’t be on your wedding day. The Boston shutterbug’s camera is like an invited friend, bringing unparalleled intimacy to every teary-eyed gaze and loving embrace it captures. These aren’t stiffly posed portraits; they’re art prints meant to be framed, hung, and cherished for a lifetime. cambriagrace.com.
At Moody’s, even the bologna sandwiches are on another level. That’s because owner Joshua Smith crafts everything in house—salumi and sausages, sure, but also the pickled peppers, pimiento cheese, and swipe of herb mayo on your Pullman loaf. And this year, the tireless chef is expanding his meaty empire with a state-of-the-art curing facility down the road, meaning his New England Charcuterie cold cuts will not only be more readily available in Boston—they’ll also be hitting the national stage. 468 Moody St., Waltham, MA 02453, moodyswaltham.com.
This shop is welcoming enough to embrace all varieties of weirdo, informed enough to impress every type of nerd, and just strange enough to ward off the squares. With a huge stock that spans the musical universe, from way-out folk to cassette-punk and art-rap—not to mention every hyper-hyphenated subgenre in between—Deep Thoughts is an essential day trip for the city's music obsessives. 138B South St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130, deepthoughtsjp.com.
No need to consult with a wardrobe stylist when prepping for a classy date night at the Franklin. Just come as you are, slide into a black leather booth, and let the low lighting, art-covered walls, and excellent wine list loosen you up. From there, the food—spicy marinated cucumbers, cornmeal-crusted catfish, and smoky spareribs—will put anyone in the mood. 278 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA franklincafe.com.
Step one: Buy an ideal piece of art. Step two: Find a framer you can trust. Good ones, like the professionals at the Frame Gallery, have an artist's eye, offer quality workmanship, and won't pressure you into spending more than you need to. You'll walk away with a well-priced, perfectly framed piece. 2 Summit Ave., Brookline, MA theframegallery.biz/.
After a $60 million facelift, all 17 stories of Boston's grande dame gleam as brightly as they did in the 1920s. This Ritz has spent more than 75 years perfecting the art of impeccable service, and it shows in a sophistication and luxury unmatched in this town—right down to the jocular doorman and white-gloved bellboys. The chandelier-filled dining room has been restored to its previous grandeur, and the vast menu of amenities includes bath and fireplace butlers, afternoon tea, and etiquette classes for children. 15 Arlington St., Boston, MA tajhotels.com/boston/.
From exotic to humble, unbelievably fresh to artfully dried, Charlestown's homegrown bud boutique treats its flowers like delicate children—and its customers like old friends. First, the blooms: Gerbera daisies that radiate like hot sunbursts, bright delphinium, and roses in hues of bright lemon yellow, russet, coral, and orange sherbet. Arrangements are creative but restrained, balancing more complex flowers (cymbidium or slipper orchids) with simpler textures (hydrangea and puffy peonies). Don't miss the exquisite custom-made wreaths. 73 Main St., Charlestown, MA awildflowerevents.com/.
Can you imagine actually looking forward to working out? We couldn't either, until Healthworks came along. This minichain of made-for-women gyms has a solid philosophy. The gym shave state-of-the-art equipment, plus cushy additional features like saunas, whirlpools, personalized training programs, towel service, and cutting-edge classes (they were the first places in town to offer spinning). 441 Stuart Street, Boston, MA healthworksfitness.com/.
There is an art to dressing down, but most people usually head to the nearest Gap or Banana Republic. Throw the flair back into casual Fridays with a visit to agnes b. The place is a gold mine for fashionable yet fuss-free clothing. Signature pieces like fleece cardigans with snaps, well-cut t-shirts and simple dresses, pants and skirts fit nicely into a working girl's wardrobe and her budget. 172 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
This is a florist that elevates blooms to a cultural experience. Breath-stopping bouquets mix long-stemmed red roses amid tall birds of paradise and other flowers selected fresh daily. Owner Jimmie Palakavong is a native of Thailand and his early immersion in Asian blossoms transforms a simple get-well-quick arrangement into a world-straddling work of art. The place to call if you want to send flowers that are remembered long after the last petal has dropped. 482A Columbus Ave., Boston, MA .
Rosalyn Elder opened this gallery/bookshop almost four years ago to make African American culture both approachable and affordable, and to foster a sense of artistic heritage that had been lacking in the community. Elder offers reproductions by such celebrated African American artists as Romare Nearden and Jacob Lawrence, as well as handmade wares form Africa and original art by local artist. There's also a great selection of African American books, toys, games, and note cards; the store is both an inspiration and an education. Coplely Place/The Dartmouth Street Shops, Boston, MA .
The Northern Avenue store is half the size of the old Newbury digs, but it's a far better representation of Debi Greenberg's style vision. Eveningwear by Peter Pilotto, Roland Mouret, and Jason Wu doubles as art, though just as impressive are casual offerings from Jeffrey Monteiro, the Row, and Opening Ceremony. Irresistible shoes and accessories bear names of favorites both old (Marni, Balenciaga) and new (Melissa Odabash, Georgina Goodman). 60 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 2110, louisboston.com.
Its stock of denim is unrivaled: 7 for All Mankind, Kasil, 1921, we could go on—and on—but we don't want to turn the rest of this write-up into a laundry list. Suffice it to say Jean Therapy has a fit for every man, with honest opinions about what he's lacking (in our case, a butt) and how best to deal with it. The only other place where the art of accentuating the positive is so consistently taught is the shrink's office. 524 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, jean-therapy.com.
With two hotels, an art gallery, and an upscale shoe salon to her name, Nantucket transplant Vanessa Noel practically is the island. Her 10-room Hotel Green manages to make "environmentally correct" feel entirely first class, with eco-friendly touches like hemp shower curtains, buckwheat pillows, ayurvedic toiletries, and cardboard furniture (which, if you're wondering, looks far nicer than it sounds). Even the wall paint is organic, as are the blueberry pancakes and fresh-squeezed orange juice in Café V next door. 33 Centre St., Nantucket, MA 2554, .