Portsmouth's Seduction

So many shops, so little time



Some of the tantalizing glamour at Puttin’ on the Glitz.

Photo by Hannah Burchard

Shopping in Portsmouth is like "retail on Red Bull." This is the city where day morphs into night and one will surely need a "frugal Yankee friend" to pull them away.

No need to complain of aching feet after a visit to City Shoes where you'll find New York style and cozy comfort in eclectic styles personally selected by owner Catherine Reddington, who admits to a lifelong shoe fetish. Look for Earth (negative heels for greater back support), Steve Madden and European favorites including Wolky, Fly London, El Natura and Santana. Check out the Jambu collection, where you might find a great price on "end of season" volt-heated boots! Don't miss first Tuesdays of the month where you can enjoy wine and cheese while swapping clothing items from your own closet with others. (P.S. a new specialty boutique is joining City Shoes this spring.)

Puttin' on the Glitz, celebrating its first year in its new location on Market Street, is one of those shops that make you think, "Why haven't I heard about this place?" Leopard handbags by Hobo, vintage glitter jewelry from Sorrelli and an oh-so-chic selection of hats (with tasteful embellishments - take note Beatrice and Eugenie) shout "glamour." Be daring and redefine who you really are.

"Stunning, flirty and asymmetrical" sums up the Komarov collection ($200 to $350 range) found at Angelica's Muse. If you have a summer wedding, special event or simply want to make heads turn at your stuffy friend's cocktail party, you will send me love letters for sending you here.

Liz-ology offers equally fabulous dresses in a more moderate price range with designers such as Max and Cleo, Adrianna Papell (one shoulder is so in right now), Clara Sun Woo and Donna Ricco. Look for Kut from the Kloth figure flattering jeans for $82.50. The $16.50 or 2 for $30 jewelry bar is irresistible. (Pssst ... Alexis Gray of Alexis Gray- Styling and Wardrobe Consulting works here and will not allow you to buy anything that "makes you look fat.")

Any store that plays Bob Dylan music will keep my attention until at least the end of the song and fortunately a '70s ballad was playing in Ganesh Imports when I popped in. This hip boutique specializes in imports from India and clothing styles from California. Bracelets, scarves, incense and more items made me weepy for my youth. The parachute fabric travel hammocks in an array of bright colors are a steal at $49.

Tulips American Handcrafts is a lovely New England artisan gallery featuring art in a ménage of mediums. Look for pottery, jewelry and unique handmade paper journals and decorative flowers. The wooden birdhouses are adorable.

Need a little pampering? Look no further than Prelude, a tiny space filled to the brim with jewelry, imported soaps and gentle bath comforts and lotions. Here is where you'll find that familiar scent from a much-loved grandmother like mine who always kept rosewater and lavender on her dresser.

Want to feel "free" all day? Drop by Body and Soul and indulge in a one-size-fits-all seamless camisole by Recover. Comes in soft colors, spaghetti strap, short sleeve and ¾ sleeve. Prices range from $25-$34. If you just buy one, you'll end up coming back.

Attrezzi Fine Kitchen Accessories is scrumptious with unusual and practical items for any well-appointed kitchen. The apron and kitchen linen section has something for every personality. Be careful reading the cocktail napkins, some are way too hilarious. Upstairs is where you'll find Matthew, "the wine guy," uncorking bottles of silky wines for tasting along with an array of crackers and dips. The Krystal pure cave-aged cheddar ($16.99/17 oz.) is spectacular with a bottle of Attrezzi Barbera from Italy's Piemonte region ($21).

Need some shopping fuel? You can't beat the clam chowder at Portsmouth Gas Light or the hot dogs and hamburgers at Gilley's, Portsmouth's legendary diner. Once your shopping adventure is over, reward yourself with a designer martini from the Green Monkey. Delish.

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