Don't just take it from us: The recent stunning exhibit at the MFA should have convinced you that tiaras are no longer reserved for royalty. They've become the accessory of choice for both brides and frequent gala attendees. Shreve, Crump & Low, which has the distinction of being one of the oldest jewelers in the coutry, has an excellent selection; tiaras start at $8,800. 330 Boylston Street, Boston, MA shrevecrumpandlow.com/.
The best toy stores have irresistible playthings and eye-popping colors, which is why Henry Bear's Park in Cambridge is our winner. From dress-up dolls to Go Fish!, this educational outlet has an impressive slew of books including ones by local authors who pop in for the Saturday morning reading series. Toys include blocks and stuffed animals for infants and outdoor games and science kits for toddlers and big kids up to age 12. 361 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA henrybear.com/.
Artists, critics, and collectors habitually rejoice at Mobilia openings, and they don't just come for the dumplings and drinks. Libby and Jo Anne Cooper exhibit and sell the creations of some of the world's leading jewelry artists—and often invite the artists to talk about their work. From the knitted metal fantasies of Arline Fisch to the flocked brooches of Dan Jocz, every piece is one of a kind. Mobilia's artist-made jewelry is often a better buy than name-brand designer baubles, with prices starting lower than the cost of a good dinner. 358 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA mobilia-gallery.com/.
This is the temple of clean, with every element of the bathroom represented, from stylish faucets to plush bathrobes and towels. The shop specializes in handcrafted pieces ranging from traditional to modern, and offers impressively accessible design consultation. For touchy-feely types, there are in-store displays that provide truly interactive shopping. We watched as one couple tumbled into an oversized whirlpool to test the size. 103 Newbury St., Boston, MA waterworks.com/.
There is nothing like a good frock to get you through the day, and at Divino, the Versus line designed by Donatella Versace, has a range of short, sassy dresses for day and evening, as well as some very affordable jersey numbers. But for ultimate goddess dresses—one even transformed grunge queen Courtney Love—those at Gianni Versace couture are to die for. 73 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
The unusually warm welcome is your first clue to this store's stellar service. The patient and skilled staff takes the necessary time (a good half hour) to discuss how to achieve the exact look you want, or will hang back when you'd rather make your own decisions. That, along with the store's good lighting, selection of diverse and colorful prints, and meticulously finished end products, all add up to one thing: a picture-perfect experience. 1089 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA .
DeCorbet's girly chatter and down-to-earth approach is a welcome relief from the hard sell of many other makeup artists around town, so it's easy to regard her as a pal. But make no mistake. She can do what no other friend on the planet can: transform you from plain Jane into a smoldering starlet. Better still, she's not loyal to any one brand and has a penchant for mixing and matching from the specialty lines at her counter. 234 Berkeley St., Boston, MA louisboston.com/.
Visit the butcher, the baker, the ravioli maker on a four-hour tour of the insider's North End led by an expert in Italian culinary arts. Learn to recognize the best olive oil, pasta, balsamic vinegar, and grappa as you taste your way down Hanover and Salem streets, then toast your newfound expertise at a grand finale at one of the North End's best trattorias. 6 Charter Street, Boston, MA .
Whether it's a question of what to wear every day, or for a special occasion, Caldwell is the one to call. An encyclopedia of colors, he pays some attention to industry trends, but mostly listens to what his customers say and want. He's also available for private bookings (he did Dennis Hopper's wedding, for example), but he's popular in Boston, so call early for an appointment. Chanel, Saks Fifth Avenue, Prudential Center, Boston, MA .
Earlier this year, Lotus relocated from Columbus to Tremont, and on crisp days, the shop's ambrosial array of flowers spills out onto the sidewalks. Watch the weekly parade of dramatic arrangements filing out to the parlors of tony South End townhouses, while you choose a set creation or design one of your own. Just be sure to request a few of their specialty blooms, including the gorgeous rare orchids. 977 Tremont St., Boston, MA lotusdesignsflowers.com.
Most car washes charge you $20 to roll your vehicle under a few spritzers and a blow dryer. At Allston, that same amount gets you full doors-to-floors tidying. (Want just the exterior cleaning? Ten bucks.) We were impressed by the attention to detail: When our—admittedly, hanging on by a thread—radio antenna popped off in the tunnel, the attendant gladly replaced it with a new one. 434 Cambridge St., Allston, MA allstoncarwash.com.
While not entirely indie—it's part of the Kimpton hotel group—Nine Zero is a singularly splendid place to lay your head. All rooms boast robes, European linens, and windows that open to let in the fresh air. But if you're lucky enough to book one of the Premier View offerings—or, even better, the Cloud Nine Suite—you'll be treated to some of the best vistas in the city. 90 Tremont St., Boston, MA 2108, ninezero.com.
Even the prettiest picture becomes an eyesore when confined to an ugly frame. A cure for such unsightliness can be found at this Back Bay fixture, where owner Kerrie Thomas frames preschoolers' doodlings, World War II medals, and everything in between. Choose from thousands of moldings in such hard-to-find materials as 24-karat gold, sterling silver leaf, and Peruvian leather. Also available are a range of albums to store those photos tagged for-your-eyes-only. Like the ones from that night at Whiskey Park. 303 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, backbayframery.com.
We used to prefer our pedicures short and sweet. But after just one Bella Foot Facial with Marina Kan, we've grown more than happy to linger. What's not to love about dozing for 80 minutes in a plush armchair while your tired pups are exfoliated, massaged, masked, and moisturized? Kan's all-business approach spares you the chitchat, and her palette of scrubs and creams looks almost good enough to eat. 38 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, bellasante.com.
He can find that extra inch in the Prada pants on sale that you can barely squeeze into, transform a jacket so it looks custom-made, and miraculously mend that favorite outfit, which is beginning to look a little on the shabby side. Check with Stephen before you break down in despair over the dress you coveted all season—now that it's available...two sizes too big or one size too small. Barney's New York at the Mall at Chestnut Hill, Chestnut Hill, MA .