Sure, Victoria's Armoire on Ponce is nice, but insiders know to walk straight past, across the alley, and through the doors of an unmarked entrance for more interior and outdoor pieces, especially because this location has an adjoining sale room. This monster showroom holds about ten times the amount of merch as the main space, plus there's a discounted area that contains amazing treasures. You'll find many natural-wood tables, chairs, bedroom sets, bookcases, and such, along with woven seating, giant framed mirrors, and cool artifacts. Some are scratch-and-dent, but most are just discontinued items they want to pull out of rotation. We once picked up a copy of a Jonathan Adler urchin vase for a dollar there. (The original sold for more than $50.) If you fall in love with something broken or slightly off, the in-house carpenter can fix it or refinish it for you. See? Deals can be had in the Gables.
CB2
In a city where your furniture options amount to superpricey Design District showrooms, unimaginative pieces at City Furniture or El Dorado, or cheap, user-assembled items from Ikea, CB2 is a godsend. The store is basically a younger, hipper version of Crate & Barrel geared toward 20- and 30-somethings without the funds but with the desire to decorate their dwellings in a more unique fashion. CB2 falls somewhere between Ikea and those high-end showrooms, with pieces affordable enough you feel like you're getting a bargain without the Chinese-made, assembly-required particle board. Best part is that despite its corporate parent's high visibility, CB2 has only nine locations in the United States and just one in Florida. So while all of your friends have Ikea's Lack coffee table, your living room will look a bit more one-of-a-kind, even if really isn't.
Bargain Barn Thrift Store
Do you know how expensive it is to furnish a house or apartment? First you get that nice couch from West Elm, then you add the dining set from CB2. Sure, maybe you settle for the build-it-yourself dresser from Ikea, but you just can't say no to that amazing desk from Luminaire. At the end of the designing day, you're talking thousands and thousands of dollars, at a time when some of us can barely afford a place. Luckily, Bargain Barn is a veritable treasure chest of used furniture. Even in-the-know interior designers shop here. The selection changes often, and items are usually priced to move — $15 will get you an end table. Sure, some things here might need a fresh coat of paint or a deep cleaning, but in the end it's worth it. Plus all the proceeds go to the Miami Rescue Mission, so you'll feel extra good about saving money.
Plaza Tire & Auto Center
Photo by Kat Bein
Maybe you're tired of going to Hialeah every time your car breaks down. Sure, your guy there is dirt-cheap, but every drive ends up in frustration and wasted time. Your GPS can't even find its way around Hialeah. And then there's the unnecessary trip to Flamingo Plaza. Stop buying pantsuits you'll never wear, and stay central. The guys at Plaza Tire & Auto Center are the most honest and quick-working in Miami. They're not the cheapest, but they're efficient. This full-service, independently operated repair shop has been fixing domestic and imported vehicles since 1977. Let's look at the top three reasons why Plaza is the best: (1) Gabe Cortez and his son John work there. They look a lot alike, which is fun, and supporting a family-owned business is a blessing you bestow upon the local economy. (2) You know what Gabe is thinking by his earnest voice, so it's easy to trust him. And (3), you can eat yummy empanadas at Enriqueta's across the street while your oil gets changed. Plaza's hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Kiliwatch Miami
A little more than a year ago, siblings Alban and Paloma de Mazieres opened Kiliwatch Miami, a boutique in the heart of Miami's Design District. The store faces stiff competition from more recognizable names located just around the corner, but where Alban and Paloma excel is in the careful curation of items selected for sale. And while clothes are the store's bread and butter, what it sells best is the concept of a certain lifestyle — the kind where you and your fabulous hipster friends are the most fashionable and interesting people you know. At Kiliwatch, you can dress yourself, boyfriend, and apartment, because every fashionista needs to make sure everything in her life could meet the standards of, say, Anna Wintour — you know, in case she ever knocks on your door and offers you that dream job as fashion editor. Items range from affordable to expensive ($20 to $300), so trendsetters at every income level can find something to take home. Labels carried include Plain Jane Homme, Better Off Dead, Altru, Converse by John Varvatos, Exact Science, Rebel Yell, Lovers + Friends, Patterson J. Kincaid, Salinas Swimwear, Cali Dreaming Swimwear, Noir Jewelry, and Chan Luu. Store hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Kiliwatch is closed Sunday, because even God needed to rest on the seventh day.
Designer James Anthony must have a lot of nightmares. At least we would after combing through countless creepy, antique medical books and science journals. But for Anthony, who cites as inspirations photography pioneer William Fox Talbot and the sideshow-style photography of Joel-Peter Witkin, these vintage, macabre images are his muses. And it's not just his predilection for the Victorian Gothic that has nabbed our attention. It's that he places these spooky images on the most prosaic of wares — pillows, T-shirts, underwear, hoodies — for his Etsy store. One tank ($44), depicting a woman in an elaborate bug costume, was inspired by a 20th-century French postcard titled Le Cigule (The Cicada). A woman's tunic ($50) shows a 19th-century French illustration of two corpse-like lovers about to kiss, their profiles creating the eye sockets of a large skull. A stag's skeleton, snagged from an 18th-century physiology book, graces a pair of men's seafoam-green underwear ($32). Anthony was born in Utah and studied fashion design in San Francisco before working in galleries in New York, where he learned to silk-screen. Living in downtown Miami since 2007, he hand-prints each one of his James Anthony Apparel designs, resurrecting forgotten ephemera so we can wear it on our sleeves and skivvies.
Three reasons to wear retro threads: (1) The crap you buy at Gap and Target falls apart in three weeks. (2) Today's dresses and tunics are designed for those who have never eaten a sandwich or endured puberty. (3) Almost everything nowadays is made out of cotton jersey, making your lady lumps look like smuggled ham hocks and cottage cheese. You could scour Miami's vintage shops for brocade bolero jackets worthy of Mad Men's secretaries, but they're bound to be overpriced for something that comes with pit stains. Instead, wrap yourself in the nouveau vintage designs of Miss Brache. The Miami designer offers sizes 0 to 24 in everything from hip-hugging leopard-print swimsuits (boyshort maillot, $115) to flouncy polka-dot dresses with sweetheart necklines (Dahlia dress, $155). And because they're all handmade to order, you can bet their seams will withstand a few repeat performances of "Y.M.C.A." We aren't the only ones enraptured with these throwback designs. Martha Stewart's wedding website featured Brache's reversible bridesmaid dresses with embroidered petticoats, and BUST Magazine praised her pinup-esque swimsuits, which have been worn by Victoria's Secret model Miranda Kerr. Brache, who refers to her retro threads as "rock-'n'-roll formal clothing that won't piss off your grandma," sells her collection online at Etsy.com.
Cross the threshold of this retro temple of drool-inducing, naughty lace and silk confections and you'll feel as if you're intruding on the sumptuous dressing room of Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, or any other Tinseltown bombshell of yesteryear we all fantasize about. Inside you'll discover hard-to-find marabou-covered slippers or peep-toe stilettos to go along with frilly panties, curve-cinching corsets, sheer chiffon peignoirs, Victorian-era bras, sexy silk stockings, and a rare, buttery-soft charmeuse camisole. Owner and designer Lauren Arkin also keeps her trove of vintage offerings stocked with beaded period costume jewelry priced in the $10 to $30 range; boasts shelves covered with antique perfume atomizers, vanity mirror sets, and sundry accessories; and creates custom lingerie for her clients. A knockout collection of black-and-white pictures of Marilyn Monroe lines the boutique's pastel-pink walls, heightening the sense that you have stumbled into a sex symbol's private closet. If you're looking to spice up bedroom romps with the pin-up girl in your life or transport your dream hunk to cloud nine, L.A. Boudoir is definitely the joint to visit to get the loins girded for some nasty, old-fangled mano a mano at surprisingly affordable prices. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Red thong and blue thong and orange thong and green thong. If you're looking for such there's only one place you belong. Neon-print Speedos and a gold-embossed jock strap. You won't find any such things at the mall's Gap. Enter the doors of midtown's Creative Male store. Its quirky selection certainly won't bore. Why you need such things isn't our business. What you wear under your suit is a personal decision. Maybe to spice things up in the bedroom, or a bachelor-party gag gift for a soon-to-be-groom. Don't feel you have to stick to boxers or a brief. Be adventuresome with what cradles your man beef.
CJ Urban Wear
Looking to cop a pair of those electric-blue-and-yellow "Entourage" LeBron 8 Nike kicks? Or maybe you've been saving to get your hands on those "Cool Grey" Air Jordan 11s? You could log on to eBay to find a rare pair of sneaks, or you could take a day trip to downtown Miami, where CJ Urban Wear serves up an exclusive selection of athletic shoes in Baskin-Robbins ice-cream colors. One wall features a time capsule dedicated to number 23's signature shoes from the time he entered the league as a Chicago Bull to his retirement in a Washington Wizards jersey. But you need Rick Ross money to shop at CJ's. Most shoes range from about $150 to $300 and max out at $1,350.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®