Best-Boutiques-in-Toronto

Trail Blazers

In search of Toronto’s best boutiques, Emma seeks counsel from her most fashionable lawyer pals
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In search of Toronto’s best boutiques, Emma seeks counsel from her most fashionable lawyer pals
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I admit it: I’m a mall rat. I love stores like Zara and J. Crew for dependable office wear. But lately, I’ve found myself getting — dare I say it? — bored. I want something different. Enter: the boutique.

I understand, in theory, the benefits of shopping off the beaten path. You support small business owners and Canadian designers. You won’t find yourself in the same outfit as three other women at the firm cocktail party. And you get to explore new neighbourhoods (personally, I need more excuses to leave my downtown bubble).

Journeying beyond the mall, I know, will be worth it. But where to start? I need advice from my favourite stylish lady lawyers.

Leila Rafi, partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, prefers to shop at boutiques over malls. If you’ve seen Rafi’s wardrobe — including a cobalt sheath dress with exposed gold zippers that I’m obsessed with — you listen to her. “One of my favourite spots to shop is Bayview Village. It’s got gems like Andrews and Your Choice,” she says. She’s right. The shops carry a breadth of designers with a good range of pieces: bright colours (think blues, oranges and pinks for summer) and pieces with detailing (silk bows, textured patterns), along with basics.

Alexandra North, associate at Dentons Canada, sends me to Coal Miner’s Daughter in Mirvish Village for statement necklaces and bags. And now I have a new favourite store. The selection of dresses is fantastic: I adore the Bernadette wool dress (with faux leather cap sleeves!) from Montreal’s Valérie Dumaine.

Next, I venture to Ossington’s Tiger of Sweden on the recommendation of Louise Moher, an associate at Lerners LLP. Moher confesses that the dresses are “perfect for work, but stretchy enough to last through a carb-heavy client lunch.” It’s an international brand, but the store is intimate, and the salespeople are super attentive. I’m most impressed by traditional suiting in gorgeous colours, such as a muted grey-blue. Other great finds are a silk brushstroke-print blouse in cream and black, and a blue 3⁄4-length sleeve dress. Men: check out the Nedvin, Norden and Evert jacket cuts and hip takes on pocket squares and cufflinks.

With my newfound confidence in the boutique experience, I head across the street to Jonathan + Olivia, where I fall in love with Rag & Bone’s Roseburg blazer — a classic black number with a deconstructed lapel — and a silver and black sheath dress (surprisingly perfect for work). Alexander Wang pleated silk pants call my name; I envision them with a knit top and pumps. The less-is-more vibe of the primarily black-and-white clothing is perfect for the minimalist lawyer. You’ll find clean, sleek pieces and basics with an avant-garde twist. Expensive, yes — but worth it.

So what’s my verdict? Boutiques do it best. Your credit card won’t thank you, but your new wardrobe definitely will.


Emma Williamson is a fashion-obsessed corporate commercial lawyer at Dentons. Her mission is to inspire Precedent’s female readers to break out of a style rut while obeying obvious and not-so-obvious workplace dress codes. Follow her on Twitter: @EmmaWorkStyle.


Photo: Tiger of Sweden