We’ve all become more interested in sprucing up our home offices over the past year, and Design Within Reach’s eye-catching and efficient workspace furnishings get the job done. Should you need a Nathan Yong filing cabinet, a posture-improving Eames chair, or a Herman Miller desk that makes you feel like the #boss you are, the store has flair (and options) to spare. 1045 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138, dwr.com.
Christine Walber Colon knows bridesmaids play no minor role in pulling off a wedding, so she outfits them accordingly. Her third-floor suite carries the bright hues, comfortable fabrics, and flattering cuts of designers such as Charsa, Lynn Lugo, and Jenny Yoo. There are no wear-it-once sateen selections here—just gracious service and moderate prices. Finally, someone who gives the supporting cast its due. 10 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, flairbridesmaid.com.
Luke Aaron's sophisticated, ladylike gowns and separates look theatrical for a reason: The budding couturier honed his craft in the costume shop at Tufts, later working for renowned costume designers in New York City. Aaron is especially adept at creating dramatic shapes by ruching and draping fabrics—grace notes that can be seen in his expanding bridal collection. Handmade pieces are available at his North End showroom, inside a restored preindustrial building. 38A Fleet St., Boston, MA lukeaaronboston.com.
Their fiction inventory is faultless; their nonfiction, superb. But it's Brookline Booksmith's book cellar that again propels this independent store to the top of the pile. If you're going to browse, be sure you've got a whole afternoon to spar—it's easy to lose track of time while scanning the shelves. The shop's reading series is also second to none, often hosting marquee authors such as David Sedaris and Jonathan Safran Foer. 279 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 2446, brooklinebooksmith.com.
These avowed wrapmasters hone in on a few select points: even distribution of ingredients; made-to-taste variety; and overall freshness, heftiness, and yumminess. They succeed. For those finicky wrapsters among us— you know who you are— there's no overabundance of rice here, or goopy sludge of extra sauce to soak up your roll. Living up to such standards of wrapsody, Fresh City in Brookline blazes the way toward the future of fast food. 1335 Beacon St., Coolidge Corner, Brookline, MA .
Clever Claire managed to hold down a full-time city job as an aide to City Counselor John Kerrigan (her $300-a-week salary nicely supplemented her husband's hefty paycheck from the federal government), run a smooth household, raise eight lovely children, and even pick up a little extra money taking care of the neighbor's kids. If she had showed up at City Hall every now and then, her talent as a housewife would probably have gone unacclaimed.
<p>The distinguishing mark of a great bartender is the ability to satisfy all of the customers all of the time—the ability to play sex therapist one minute and sports analyst the next, and to be an interested listener no matter what the bozo in front of you has to say.</p> <p>Robert Gerard, a 35-year-old native of Albany, New York, who drinks Heineken but loves to mix a margarita now and then, is quite simply a master of his trade. Since moving to Boston, in 1977, Gerard has worked at the Sunflower Café, Pizzeria Uno, St. Botolph, and Allegro on Boylston. These days you'll find him at he recently reopened 29 Newbury, which he hopes will combine the best of them all.</p> <p>"St. Botolph is a neighborhood bar," he says. "It's got a nice blend of people and a strong sense of community. Allegro is more urbane, but it doesn't have that sense of community—at least not yet. My fantasy is that 29 will have both."</p> <p>No matter what the environment, Gerard's trade secrets are sure to stay the same. "Basically," he says, "it comes down to caring. Anyone can master the technical aspects of bartending; the hard part is helping create an atmosphere. You've got to be inclusive instead of exclusive. And have a good time."</p>
Now that the Concorde has gone the way of the luxury steamship, there's nothing that courts robbery on an AirTran carousel like a Louis Vuitton suitcase. Safer to go with the workaday, the durable but still stylish. Biltmore-Green stocks sensible luggage from Samsonite to Hartmann, with Tumi and Travelpro in between. Aesthetes and traditionalists will prefer the unparalleled selection of leather brands like Bosca and Kenneth Cole. There's even initialing while you wait. 176 Boylston St., Boston, MA .
What's your dream hair length? Want more layers? Or maybe a cappuccino? The staff at this salon asks all the right questions, ensuring that each client ends up with a gorgeous style to fit her taste, and gets a respite from the bustle of Newbury below. Plus, the well-spaced stations, ahh-inducing massage chairs, and large front windows bathing the place in natural light make the whole experience second to none. 77 Newbury St, Boston, MA 2116, bradleyanddiegel.com.
Donna Hamilton and Patrice Vinci work with different products and go for different looks, but both are so skilled with the magic wand of blond, each deserves this title. Vinci, a favorite of Hollywood types passing through town, paints brown bases with the kind of all-over glamour-glow that surfers get while catching waves the whole summer. Hamilton, meanwhile, favors sophisticated honeyed tones that look gorgeous even as the roots grow back. 91 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, patricevinci.com.
This man is an artist, sans the temperament problem. But first-timers take note: your hair will be washed and dried before Maksou takes scissors to head. Using the DryCut method favored by stylist John Sahag, Maksou hones in on your best features, offers a complement or two, and designs a cut around them. Best of all, he listens to what you want and takes your lifestyle into account. HAIR FX Studio, 627 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA .
The impressive trick that this South End clipper pulls off is being both thoughtful about her craft (honed by training stints at Dellaria, Vidal Sassoon, and Wella) and creative with it. From doctors and lawyers to musicians and artists, Babine works with her fellas to find a look that complements their lifestyle, then runs down everything they need to do to keep their manes in shape. And so much for the purported male tendency to stray: Several clients are regulars whose devotion spans her 12-year career. 1661 Washington St., Boston, MA 2118, .
After years of working with some of this city's best (Gordon Hamersley, Michael Schlow, Seth Woods), it's Frasca's turn to soar at Spire, the restaurant at the Nine Zero hotel. And soar he does, with entrées like his fresh pea soup, an earthy ode to summer with a tinge of sautéed pea shoots for brightness and a sweet, nutty crab dumpling for contrast. We hope more young chefs will follow Frasca's lead. 90 Tremont St., Boston, MA .
With 30 ever-changing draft lines, as well as an ample bottle list, wine offerings from smaller producers, and an impressive roster of ciders, this new neighborhood spot already feels like a standby watering hole. 7 Moulton St., Boston, MA 02129, brewersfork.com.
Priding itself on being the first bar in America to sell Guinness on draft, the Blarney Stone is an essential neighborhood watering hole, whether you're brunching on the leafy patio or enjoying a pint in front of the roaring fireplace. 1505 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester, MA 02122, blarneystoneboston.com.