Best Hotel Store 2015 | Babalu | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

Marilyn Monroe once said, "It's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring." Right on. That famous quote is featured high on Babalu's website. This boutique distinguishes itself by carrying unique, cheeky merchandise that's sometimes ridiculous, but in the best possible way — like Aaron James' book Assholes: A Theory ($23.95), a philosophical examination of what makes someone an insufferable jerk. Babalu has three locations, including a pintsize spot inside the Raleigh Hotel. The well-curated shop is a perfect fit for South Beach's fabulous locals and tourists looking to snap up hard-to-find beauty buys by brands like RMS, Ilia, and C.O. Bigelow or those seeking some color and whimsy for their home via Jonathan Adler decor. Want a fuchsia skull-shaped candle? You can buy one here by DL & CO for $45. Or how about a polka-dot wallet from Comme des Garçons for $180? Babalu is many things, but boring certainly isn't one of them.

We get you, Miami: You live on secondhand plastic glasses you found in your mom's basement or stumbled across on the beach. The fear of losing or breaking high-end eyeglass frames is too much to handle. But your cheap ways all too often lead to accepting terrible quality in your eyewear. That's why we did cartwheels when Warby Parker set up shop in South Florida. The brand has been selling designer-quality glasses since 2010 for about $100 a pair. The only caveat for Miami shoppers was that, without a local store, checking out the selection in person wasn't a feasible option. In 2012, Warby Parker opened a small shop at the Standard, and this past March, a full-fledged store dubbed the Warby Parker Annex set up in Wynwood. It's the only full-size Florida location and one of only nine stand-alone boutiques in the nation. Despite the posh feel of the store, the affordable price remains a constant. For $95 plus tax, you can leave with stylish frames, lenses included. (If your eyesight requires thicker lenses, you can ask for special thinner ones for an extra $30.) The store doesn't do eye exams, so you'll need to come prescription-ready. That's a small price to pay for awesome, affordable specs.

Photo by Naty Pascual

This is Miami, gentlemen. A well-put-together look is a must. Still, far too many men in Dade County forget the prime directive of fashion: Style looks best when it appears effortless and relaxed. Eschew those bespoke suits and high-end designs for the classic Americana and pick up your next outfit at Lost Boy Dry Goods instead. Brothers Randy and Brian Alonso, who grew up with a knack for the retail business, run the shop. Their family owns La Epoca department store downtown. But at Lost Boy, the brothers have complete control over the store's feel and vibe, which veers closer to Rocky Mountain rustic than Miami's neon glow. The store carries labels such as Scotch & Soda, Puma, Levi's, Retro Brand, and Juntos — all reasonably priced. The store's biggest draw, though, is its denim selection. If you're looking for gaudy and excessively studded jeans, look elsewhere. The offerings here are classic and flattering, in keeping with the store's Americana aesthetic. And though the menswear brought us in the door, the shop carries a fine seletion of clothes for the ladies as well.

Between The Real Housewives, the gossip mags, and the paparazzi dashing around South Beach, Miami puts plenty of its dirty laundry right out there in public. Think about taking it to the Neighborhood Cleaners instead. No matter how filthy your clothes are, the crew at the Cleaners will leave your specialty button-downs and fancy gowns looking new. Care aside, the secret behind the dry cleaner's spotless rep lies with the products they use. One of the greener places around the mostly industrial neighborhood of Doral, the Cleaners is supplied by GreenEarth, "the largest brand of environmentally friendly dry-cleaning solvent," which is nontoxic, free of harsh chemicals, and gentle on clothes. The Neighborhood Cleaners also offers alterations, shoe repair, and tailoring services. The prices are reasonable — shirts start at $5.99, pants cost $6.50, and dresses vary based on length and design but typically run around $12 — and those who pay upfront receive a 10 percent discount. Free delivery to select areas, mainly around Doral, is also available. Next time you're wondering how you'll ever remove that suspicious stain from that dress your sister let you borrow, the Neighborhood Cleaners has your back — no questions asked.

Readers' choice: OXXO Care Cleaners

Being a sneakerhead ain't easy. It takes a special kind of retail addict to get in line at midnight at Foot Locker in the mall the day before a limited-edition run of Jordans drops. You don't see flossy ladies mobbing Nordstrom for a shot at a sweet pair of rare goatskin Louboutin heels, do you? Why stress yourself when there's not one, but two spots in Southwest Miami-Dade serving the really exclusive kicks. Founded by a pair of Kendall bros in 2012, the Edition Sneaker Boutique swears it will have its customers looking mad ill from head to toe. For starters, the Edition is the official U.S. authorized retailer for Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade's signature shoe, Way of Wade, by Li-Ning. "The only other place to get them is on Li-Ning's online store," says Edition co-owner Nick Chang. "We have been selling Wade's shoe since we opened, but it took us about a year and a half to get the account." Now's that what you call reppin' the 305. Chang, 18, teamed up with his buddy, Michael LoBue, 20, to open their first location on SW 136th Street three years ago. "We just want to help the sneaker community out here by bringing something to Kendall," Chang says. "There were no stores really selling exclusive sneakers here. Before, you had to drive 20 to 30 minutes to find a good sneaker store." Chang, who purchased his first pair of exclusive kicks (the DMP Raptor Jordan 7s) when he was 13, says the Edition also carries Asics, Nikes, and Jordans, as well as popular streetwear such as 10 Deep, Billionaire Boys Club, and local brands Lyfe Brand and Miami Native. And the prices, ranging from $70 to $320, won't burn a hole in your paycheck or allowance. The stores have also held special events with Heat players such as James Ennis, Mario Chalmers, and Udonis Haslem. "We are opening another store in Doral in November," Chang says.

Readers' choice: FootWorks

In an endless sea of chain department stores, Capretto Shoes is one of Miami's few shops where shoe lovers can still buy local. Even better, this South Miami store has a smartly curated selection of designer women's shoes — including familiar names like Jimmy Choo, Prada, and Balenciaga — set in a beautifully decorated modernist salon. You can also snag a designer handbag while you're there, and Capretto sells its own label alongside iconic designers such as Valentino. The shop must be doing it right, because Capretto opened its doors in 1983, which, by Miami standards, makes it an historic landmark. Capretto isn't a discount outlet — that perfect design by Alexander Wang, Fendi, or Gianvito Rossi doesn't come cheap. But the budget-conscious can wait for Capretto's sales and score last season's lines at a serious discount.

Chaos theory: a mathematical field of study, most famously backed by Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park. Also, it's an apt description of what you'll encounter on a typical Saturday morning at Red White & Blue Thrift Store. Thousands of shoppers jostle and carom among the hundreds of racks jammed with every conceivable clothing item, all priced to fly off the shelves. Viejitos grab guayaberas by the handful, hipsters flip through faded rec-league baseball T-shirts, moms force kids' feet into Velcro slip-ons, and young Republicans grab pinstriped three-piece suits. And you know what? It's beautiful. There's no better representation of Miami in all its diverse, bananas weirdness than the bargain-mad crowd understandably crashing through Red White & Blue's gates every weekend.

Maxi de Bernardi

A funky bass groove kicks into gear. Wide-legged orange polyester pants fill your vision. You feel your cranium and — is that an Afro? It's not your imagination or an accidental trip into a hot-tub time machine; you've just walked into the '70s-inspired section of Fly Boutique, where wrought-iron chandeliers, tufted velvet sofas, and midcentury lamps transport shoppers to another era. Of course, you don't have to hang out in the Carter administration. Fly offers more than ten decades' worth of vintage goods, many from a variety of designer labels. There's a $650 Devi Kroell python handbag, a $120 pair of 1950s paisley Evins shoes, and a '70s Christian Dior chain belt. Talk about a time warp.

There's a reason Fashion Week jets south from New York City to South Florida to show off the latest in designer swimwear every year: In the Magic City, swimwear is serious business. And Mermaids Swimwear is a store that understands that swimwear is central to the social fabric of our fair city. The store — which owner Jessica Sierralta opened in 2000 in South Miami — offers pieces by major designers such as Mara Hoffman, Kai Lani, and Acacia. From bikinis to monokinis, flattering one-pieces, and fashionable cutouts, Mermaids carries just about every style of swimsuit, while also understanding that swimwear is a total look. After all, you can't show up at a Miami Music Week pool party in only a swimsuit. So Mermaids also carries a selection of shoes, including pretty Cocobelle gladiators and supercomfortable Havaiana flip-flops, tote bags, and coverups. Prices vary widely, with swimsuits running $100 to $300 or more and shoes $32 to $150.

Marie Antoinette lilac-and-cherry-blossom lavatory mist. Essential oils and perfumes imported from Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, the world's oldest pharmacy in Florence, Italy. Wavertree & London black-fig natural-oil scented soap. No matter where you turn, there's a gem waiting at the Olfactory Company. Though the name suggests the Coconut Grove shop is all about the smell, your eyeballs get a great workout too when you step into the Florentine Plaza storefront. It's like walking into a labyrinth of curiosity, where you'll find everything from Mr. Bean air fresheners to vintage ceramic Chewbacca plates ($75) to edible rose petals and loose-leaf tea collections (about $12.50 for three-to-four-ounce tins or bags). Trinkets and oddments aside, the Olfactory carries a vast collection of European chocolates and old-fashioned candies, as well as plenty of past-century toys such as puppets and wooden Czech playthings. But these purveyors of fine goods frequently change their inventory. So although you can always expect to find knickknacks of all sorts, you never really know what treasures you'll stumble upon next.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®