Boston gal Lisa Jean-Francois longed for a place where she could share her love of beauty and fashion from her viewpoint as a black feminist—so she created one, launching her website to dish on pop culture, natural hair, and Beyoncé as well as post photos of her head-to-toe outfits. Almost seven years and 35,000-plus Instagram followers later, Francoise is a full-time content creator who’s served as an official influencer for companies such as Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. N/A, .
Maybe you sipped cabernet on your wedding day—and spilled. Maybe, three years later, your stained, crumpled gown is still gathering dust in your closed. Dependable Cleaners has seen worse. There's not an "oops" moment these pros can't handle, and with more than a dozen outlets in and around Boston, you won't have to drive far to complete this most essential errand. dependablecleaners.com.
In Boston, it wouldn't seem far-fetched to believe the only food to come out of the Middle East is falafel. Caf Barada disproves that notion, though, with its spicy mujeddara, a blend of lentils, rice, and onions; shish kebabs; and lubia, a comforting lamb stew. Not everything is available every day, but that just gives you an excuse to go back. And you'll want to—because, actually, its falafel alone is worth the trip. 2269 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA cafebarada.net.
East Coast Alpine, which made its Boston debut last fall, carries a truly comprehensive array of top-name snow-carving equipment, clothing, and accessories. Staffers, meanwhile, are adept at customizing your purchase to your skill level, ensuring that you leave perfectly primed for the mountains (or less terrified about your maiden voyage on the bunny slopes). 860 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 2215, eastcoastalpine.com.
Jill Goldberg's four-year-old shop perfectly captures the new Boston aesthetic: a charming balance of country chic (whitewashed woods, salvaged signs), old-money signifiers (vintage French settees), and a touch of modern chrome. Few homeowners can nail the upscale-casual look without a pro's help—Goldberg offers styling services, too—but a couple of well-placed items from Hudson are an excellent start. 12 Union Park St., Boston, MA 2118, hudsonboston.com.
As local shoe fetishists know, most reasonably priced footwear in Boston is usually too young, too tacky, or too shoddy. Trend-pusher 344 delivers a surprisingly solid range of grownup kicks—from $39 Novela gladiator flats to $99 Lovely People sequin pumps—that rest comfortably in the "just cheap enough" bracket. 344 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, shop344.com.
Straddling the Brookline-Boston line, Allandale offers workshops for urban refugees, summer programs, even a farm stand. We particularly enjoy visiting the bucolic setting for the impressive supply of perennials, herbs, trees, and shrubs: An on-site nursery produces New England-hardy varieties, and sells locally sourced soils and mulches, among other gardening staples (no chemical-laden bags of "dirt" lurking here). 259 Allandale Rd., Brookline, MA allandalefarm.com.
Bryan Rafanelli is the Keith Lockhart of party planning: able to orchestrate a dizzying number of players to masterful effect. Even more impressive is his repertoire. He and design partner Billy Everse have personalized and pulled off nearly every memorable wedding modern-day Boston has seen, from the stately and elegant to the outrageous. With impeccable taste and a knack for details, the team provides everything from invitations and tunes to food and decorations. All you have to provide are the tears and hugs. 450 Harrison Ave., Suite 401, Boston, MA rafanellievents.com/.
This Best of Boston hall-of-famer continues to preside with authority over South Shore style, offering a citified mix of party dresses and casual daywear from girly favorites Tracy Reese, Nanette Lepore, and Vera Wang Lavender. Upcoming spin-off Crossing Main for Shoes, set to open in the fall, promises the well dressed will be equally well heeled. 5 Main St., Hingham, MA 2043, .
The praise doesn't get any higher: The late Liz Tilberis, editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar, once commented at a charity event in Boston on how elegant the women looked in their Akris suits. The suits are exquisitely crafted in fabrics like double-faced wool, cashmere, silk chiffon, linen, and cotton voile; even those of us who have to work for a living can appreciate that. 16 Newbury Street, Boston, MA akris.ch/.
Boston is (as a running city should be) chock full of running shops. But none provides the level of personal attention offered at Marathon Sports, where the staff is rigorously trained to labor over every sale. Salespeople here will consider your budget, your running level, and—above all—your foot structure and stride (test runs included) before weeding out your ideal buy from the store's epic stock. 1654 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA marathonsports.com/.
Still think Vidal Sassoon is about those cheesy '80s commercials? Not anymore. This international house has spearheaded trend after trend, and the Boston branch is particularly blessed with a dream team of hair artistes in colorist par excellence Laurel Elliot and the exacting stylist Dirk Diegel. Add to all that a widespread practice of professional but personal treatment punctuated by a notable lack of pretense, and you've got the consummate coiffure. 14 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
With reports out almost daily about the dangers of chemical cleaning solvents (perchloroethylene, for example, has been linked to liver damage and cancer), the organic and biodegradable cleaning methods at owner Shelly Mars's Ecoluxe are literally a breath of fresh air. Crunchy ethos notwithstanding, this small Boston chain is also a modern and decidedly bourgeois establishment. The clean, streamlined storefronts are so pretty they could be mistaken for boutiques, the polite and efficient service (from cleaning to pressing) never wavers, and home delivery is available. 1018 Beacon St., Brookline, MA .
It may be the newbie on the block, but Nine Zero has swiftly wooed the city with its soft contemporary design and sleek sense of comfort. The posh small hotel effortlessly blends style, luxury, and practicality. And you can't beat the hospitality and attention to detail: goose-down comforters, Mario Russo bath products, and a CD library. If you're having a bad fashion day, ring the personal shopper from Louis Boston—then wear the spoils to dinner at Spire, the hotel's hip glass-walled eatery. 90 Tremont St., Boston, MA ninezero.com/.
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 .