Think the rise of mommy chic is rooted in the Hollywood baby boom? A swing through 9 Months will change your mind. Here you'll find the real force behind the phenomenon: seriously great fashion, as in sexy silk cocktail dresses by Liz Lange, smart but ever-so-comfy trousers by Japanese Weekend, gotta-have jeans from Citizens of Humanity, and gauzy floral numbers by Maternal America. All this, and a cute little play area to distract the tykes while the shopping is under way? No wonder so many local moms-to-be are glowing. 286 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, .
With online wholesalers operating round the clock and big-box retailers claiming their slice of the bauble trade, you can buy jewelry almost anywhere, anytime, these days. Unless, that is, your gift needs to transcend mere trinket. In that case, you're going to want a more personal shopping experience before you surrender a few months' salary. And that's just what's provided by the friendly faces at Cohasset Jewelers, which has been helping its customers choose just the right piece for more than 75 years. Not only is its cache of new and estate jewelry stunning to behold, it's priced beautifully, too. 790 Chief Justice Cushing Hwy, Cohasset, MA 2025, cohassetjewelers.com.
We adore the new Louis store's in-house apothecary, but for the town's most expansive selection of pleasant-smelling lotions, scrubs, soaps, and salves for hands, feet, and body, there's no place better than MiniLuxe. The salon specializes in luxury products, including those from Bee Naturals, Rejuvacote, St. Tropez, and the best exfoliators known to woman: LaLicious's sugar scrubs. A smattering of flip-flops and slippers rounds out the buff-and-polish selection. And unlike those other bath and body stores, MiniLuxe doesn't install overly perky soap-pushers at the shop's entrance. 296 Newbury St, Boston, MA 2116, miniluxe.com.
You may not be buying as much these days, but—hallelujah!—Barneys is. The national chain is in the enviable, corporate-backed position of being able to continue carrying as broad an array of heels, sandals, boots, and flats as it did in flusher times. Rows of big names like Fendi, Givenchy, and Chloé provide a good excuse to splurge; however, for those feeling slightly less well heeled, the store's recommitment to more-accessible footwear by Antik Batik, Maloles, and its own excellent Co-op house line makes saving money here a lot more attractive than buying last season at TJ Maxx. 100 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 2116, barneys.com.
Newbury Comics is to Nick Hornby as music megastores are to Carson Daly. The trucker hat—wearing kids who staff this eclectic pop culture emporium truly know their stuff, and they're quick to help shoppers navigate the impressive selection of CDs crammed between the movies and kitschy collectibles that crowd the aisles. With new releases often priced at $10 or less, ample shelf space set aside for local artists, and sought-after acts frequently dropping in for appearances, browsing for albums here almost beats downloading them for free on your home computer—and, as an added bonus, doesn't create the same risk of being sued for copyright infringement. 332 Newbury St., Boston, MA newburycomics.com.
Dogs and people express their devotion to each other in ways the recipient probably wishes they wouldn't: jumping up and piddling with joy (dogs); making gifts of pup-sized Sox jerseys (people). A trip to the groomer's might fall into that latter category, too—strangers! clippers! yikes!—but not at DogSpa. Rescued from closing in 2006 and thoroughly overhauled by a longtime customer, this previous Best of Boston winner mixes state-of-the-art equipment like an air-purification system and massaging-jet baths with good old TLC. And since there's tons of doggy accessories here, four-legged friends can emerge not only clean and sweet-smelling, but also togged out like Big Papi. 45 Enon St., Beverly, MA 1915, .
If you're after Newbury Street panache minus the hassle of driving in from the 'burbs, Fia has the experts on staff and swank products in stock to deliver the goods. Stylist Chuck Bass works both wet and dry cutting techniques to create head-turning styles, while even a routine shampoo gets taken up a notch with hair care by John Sahag and Phytologie and a mini scalp massage. Afterward, you'll feel as if you've just stepped out of a big-city salon—and yet there's your car, easily stashed, hassle-free, in a lot across the street. 15 Cypress St., Newton Centre, MA 2459, .
Just off the road that Norman Rockwell called home, year-old Seven presents itself as an unassuming yellow house that turns out to be far from ordinary inside. On the ground level, where wood floors glow under recessed lighting, the stylists buzz around hair and manicure stations stocked with Pangea Organics and other all-natural products; pedicures take place on suede benches raised above deep tiled tubs. Upstairs, among a handful of spacious treatment rooms, Alex Vinogradov—a former go-to masseur for Kirov ballerinas—works knotted muscles back into shape. 7 South St., Stockbridge, MA 1262, .
Is there anything worse than suffering through another boring bridal or baby shower? Spare yourself by throwing a spa party instead. G Spa's private lounge is perfect for showers, birthday parties, and girl-power get-togethers. The white couches make a stylish setting for muscle-soothing massages and skin-brightening facials. Bring in a party of six or more for two treatments apiece, and you'll get exclusive use of the lounge and the swift work of the well-trained staff. Because if you have to shower your friends with gifts, you might as well get something for yourself, too. 35 Newbury St., Boston, MA gspa.com/.
Even the bad pun can't keep us away from a pet service this efficient, loving, and dependable. Owner Scot Jones clearly cares for his four-legged commissions with the same passion he does his business, keeping an organized staff of five fully briefed in everything from pet first aid to the fundamentals of TLC. Whether it's cat sitting (litter changes included) or dog walking (rain or shine, 365 days a year), Paws to Consider makes as many visits as you want—and will even care for plants, collect mail, and make veterinarian or grooming runs. 24 Halifax St., Jamaica Plain, MA pawstoconsider.com/.
Toss away those pore strips. You won't need them after a facial at Grettacole, where the expertly trained technicians steam, massage, and tone even the dullest of skin into dewy submission. Settle onto the cushy table in one of the dimly lit, blissfully quiet treatment rooms and doze off as your skin is transformed; the neck, shoulder, and hand massage is just one of the many perks. For an exercise in pure luxury, indulge yourself in a treatment using products from the Valmont line of rare, exquisite French lotions, toners, and masks. It all adds up to an addictive experience that may have you swearing off do-it-yourself home facials forever. Westin Hotel, Copley Place, Boston, MA grettacole.com/.
Austere lobbies and high-tech doodads certainly make an impression, but too many new luxury hotels try to conceal poor service behind flashy interior decorating. The Peter Niemetz-redesigned Eliot, outfitted with restored antiques, toile fabrics, and plush linens, has nothing to hide and much to offer, including 79 stately suites, 16 rooms, and a staff who seem to remember every repeat guest. And like the pre-upgraded Eliot, the Back Bay cornerstone still houses celebrity chef Ken Oringer, who heads the acclaimed Clio and Uni on the ground floor. 370 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 2215, eliothotel.com.
This old-school diner a short stroll from Davis Square features solid renditions of the usual short-order, comfort-food staples—meatloaf burgers, club sandwiches, and the like—and a nicely stocked bar offering comforting beverages. The service, while not fancy, is friendly—so much so you'll forgive your waitress for not knowing better when she insists that Rosebud in Citizen Kane (the diner's owner is a huge fan) is a woman. If you're hungry and a carnivore, go straight for the tasty barbecue combo, a filling sampler of ribs, chicken, and sausage. 381 Summer St., Davis Square, Somerville, MA rosebuddiner.com/.
This giant temple to raw fish may look like a Zen sanctuary, but don't expect any peace or quiet. Between the circular sushi bar's clamor and the bustle of waitresses trying to keep up with the relentless demand for maki, it's difficult to meditate on the menu, let alone anything else. But then the reason for all this fuss arrives at your table: shining piles of pliant, deep ruby mahuro sashimi, briny and sweet abalone, luscious and firm yellowtail maki, and buttery, sweet toro. The exotic and artistically rendered fish here is unrivaled in the city—but even that, like the rest of Fugakyu, is more mind-blowing than mind-clearing. 1280 Beacon St., Brookline, MA fugakyu.net/.
The frills are few at the humble but festively colorful Tu y Yo, but none of that matters once you experience the authenticity of the expertly prepared food. Traditional family recipes are executed to perfection, from the shredded chicken breast slow cooked in chipotle peppers and tomatoes to the jumbo shrimp grilled in bay leaves, garlic, oranges, and chipotle sweet-sour sauce. The friendly staff tries hard to make every visitor here feel at home (a quality we're sure, like the recipes, has been passed down for generations) and is adept at guiding diners through the almost shamefully inexpensive entrées (all well under $20) and intriguing wine selection. 858 Broadway, Somerville, MA tuyyo2.com.