Best Swimwear 2015 | Mermaids Swimwear | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

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.

Putting a word like "genius" right there in the name of your shop is a bold maneuver, but for a decade, Genius Jones has been living up to its moniker by stocking products that make Miami parents' jaws drop in amazement. The philosophy at this Design District shop is that kids' products can be both functional and beautiful. Take, for instance, the sleek white "Elephant" crib ($718): This modern piece can be assembled in ten minutes (take that, IKEA!), and when you don't need it, it can be easily disassembled and stored in small spaces. When you stare at the strollers (which range from $470 to $,1399), you'll wonder when this high level of technology came to the baby genre. But don't quake at the learning curve, because the employees are experts when it comes to demonstrating how to use the gear. Genius Jones is also a great place to find out-of-the-box baby gifts such as onesies with slogans such as "my mommy has more tattoos than your mommy," and "#dontdropme," which cost $24 each. And though the goods are for children, adults will definitely have more fun shopping here. It's truly genius.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Ceballos

With 30 years of retail greatness, this family-owned-and-operated boutique is no secret. Yet there are still those among us in Miami who have never experienced the sheer bliss of finding the perfect retro bathing suit or vintage hat. At Miami Twice, you can feast your eyes on the fashionable finds from all the best-dressed eras the modern world has ever known. Why go to that '20s-themed party in a cheap, tacky flapper getup from a chain costume outlet when you can grab a fringed frock and elbow-length gloves that will last longer than that Halloween hangover? The best kind of costume is the one that doubles as actual streetwear, and we all know the '60s will never go out of style. If you're looking for something "now," the front of Miami Twice comes stocked with airy designs every lady should own. In the middle, you can find retro items — things that look old but are actually new — and the back holds all of the real vintage gems. We don't know who the connect is, but Miami Twice has the finest and most enviable collection of garments we've ever seen. Besides the clothes, there are sunglasses, accessories, purses, shoes, corsets, knickknacks, sewing machines, boas, scarves, and even vinyl records if you need some mood music to go with that magical gown. The quality of everything is outstanding, and there's a classic costume section for those looking for a more traditional Halloween feel. But we say go all out and do it right. This isn't Forever 21, so expect to pay realistic vintage prices. Fortunately, Miami Twice has a layaway program if your wallet screams at your costume's cost.

Don't be deceived by the small size of the Bazaar Project — this Design District boutique's inventory is huge and packed with treasures that'll make the perfect gift. Yeliz Titiz, the owner and designer of the jewelry line Sura (which is sold here), is an avid traveler with an eye for unique art, fashion, technology, and home items. You'll find plenty of evil-eye charms from her native Turkey, including a large glass aqua version ($62) that makes for a distinctive wall hanging. Decorative throw pillows by French artist Alexandre MS ($90 to $175) are a stunning combination of photography and interior design. He takes photos of various scenes of beaches, mountains, and other locales and then prints the images on pillows for a unique statement look. Whether your budget is $30 or $300, Titiz's globetrotting stash of curiosities ensures you won't leave empty-handed or disappointed.

Dadeland Mall

Even though it happened more than three decades ago, the sad truth is that far too many Miamians who aren't in the know hear "Dadeland Mall" and think of the infamous 1979 Cocaine Cowboys shootout in the food court. That's tragic, because these days, Dadeland Mall is one of the finest retail establishments not only in Miami-Dade but also in the nation. Get yourself lookin' fresh at the state's largest Macy's, grab some high-end electronics at the Apple or Microsoft store, and chow down at the Cheesecake Factory or the new Aoki Teppanyaki. In the newly completed south wing, a slew of fresh options includes Tesla Motors, Fit 2 Run, Porsche Design, Urban Outfitters, Bobby's Burger Palace, Aroma Espresso Bar, and the mall's latest edition, Texas de Brazil. There's luxury galore for the high-rollin' set and myriad mall favorites like Spencer's for the rest of us. With 166 stores and a constant rotation of special events, there's always something to see and do. Being a mall rat has never been better.

Readers' choice: Aventura Mall

Miami and Versace are as cosmically linked as any designer and any city on Earth. True, the label's founder, Gianni Versace, is Italian by birth. But it was Miami where he found his muse and made his legend with a beachside villa — and an infamous death at the hands of a serial killer on Ocean Drive. So it's no wonder that the outlet of Versace Home that opened in the Design District last year is the best embodiment of both the town and the designer: rich fabrics, gilded woods, ceramic leopards, and inconceivably elegant leather couches. It's as if a Jennifer Lopez red-carpet dress exploded and reformed itself into furniture. In short, it's the perfect Miami aesthetic, a deep commitment to classic gaudy that hints at self-awareness. The pieces are all so expensive that Versace Home doesn't even bother with price tags (if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it), but a trip to the store is worth an hour or so of your afternoon anyway. There's something sublime about ogling the furniture of the ultra-rich, and Versace Home is as escapist as it gets.

That gaping, empty space on the west side of your living room has been taunting you for months: "Fill me," it says. "Fill me." Don't panic. Even if you're light in the wallet, there's a place where you can peruse acres of Lucite coffee tables, fly '80s lamps, retro-chic couches, and every other home decor you can imagine — most of it priced under a couple hundred bucks. That's thanks to the good people at the Miami Jewish Health Systems Thrift Store (once known as the Douglas Gardens Thrift Store), a mainstay for five decades in Brownsville. Items are almost always in near-perfect condition, and delivery costs only a small fee. Plus, those dollars you drop are for a good cause: Profits go toward charitable missions at the Miami Jewish Health Systems.

Between Amazon undermining brick-and-mortar book shops and major chains like Borders giving up the ghost, you might be tempted to think the era of bookstores is behind us. You'd be wrong. Bookstores aren't dead. They just need a little tweaking. A greater sense of community, perhaps, and a lower price point — starting at free maybe? And hey, a few boozy beverages on the side couldn't hurt. That's the model of Bookleggers, a monthly get-together that gathers book lovers to swap their tomes in fun locations around Miami. Founder Nathaniel Sandler (an occasional New Times contributor) calls it a "community mobile library," offering one free book to first-timers. But any good dealer will tell you the first taste is always free; once hooked, voracious readers will return again and again with books from their own libraries to trade for new-to-them novels — or, failing that, with cold hard cash. (You can buy a book for $2 at any Bookleggers get-together.) Bookleggers pop-up locations are all part of the fun. Its second anniversary was a cultural affair at Downtown Art Space; bars such as Gramps and the Broken Shaker have hosted other appearances; and for the O, Miami festival this year, it set up shop at Collins Park so readers could bring their dogs along for the ride. Try having that much fun clicking around Amazon.

Readers' choice: Books & Books

Like other postal locations, the lines are long and the pens mysteriously disappear from the counters at the Miami Beach Post Office. But instead of having to endure petulant eye-rolling and foot-tapping in line, customers can enjoy awe-inspiring art deco design. The symmetrical, cylindrical structure and large, rectangular windows are characteristic of post-Depression-era style. Inside, the forest-green art on the ceiling makes everyone glance up upon arrival (don't trip on the inoperable fountain in the middle). Along the back wall that houses the P.O. boxes, three New Deal murals, painted by artist Charles Hardman in 1940, depict Spanish conquistadors like Ponce de León and de Soto fighting Floridian tribes. Yeah, you can get your stamps here, but this post office is more like a free museum than a government agency.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®