Toronto for fashion lovers: Where to shop, people-watch and more

Searching for that perfect dress? Want to outfit your pooch in Jays gear? Look no further.

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The Room at the Bay
Photo, Arthur Mola.

In partnership with Tourism Toronto

The world may think of Torontonians as either bundled up in Canada Goose parkas or bunking down in massive turtlenecks and sweats — thanks, Drake — but this city has plenty of sartorial swagger. Whether you’re on the hunt for vintage scores, happy to window shop or hungry for A+ people-watching, you’ll be well-covered.

Window-shopping at Hudson’s Bay and Saks

Starting every November for the past nine years, tourists and Torontonians alike have clustered at the bustling downtown corner of Queen and Yonge to ogle the Hudson’s Bay Christmas windows. (Everyone digs the teeny clan of mice snoozing in matchbox beds.) But the window displays are worth a walk-by any time of the year, because once Santa departs, gorgeous clothes from Hudson’s Bay and its high-end fashion neighbour, Saks, take his place. If you’re tempted by the Jason Wu, Alexander Wang and Rodarte creations, head inside to The Room, a gleaming 22,000 square feet of spectacular retail shopping. There’s also a sprawling make-up selection for those who seek something pretty but a tad more wallet-friendly. thebay.com.

Saks Fifth Avenue
Photo, Arthur Mola.

People-watching at Fring’s

Since its executive chef is Susur Lee — a culinary celeb with several eponymous restaurants — the food at Fring’s is skillful, swinging from salmon tartare to marinara-drenched meatballs to a seared whole fish. But the people-watching at Fring’s is something else entirely, with young and achingly hip diners perched on mohair-covered chairs, perfectly backlit by red-tasselled chandeliers. They’re here for a glimpse of reported co-owner Drake, and while he likely won’t show, you’ll still have your eyes full. fringsrestaurant.com.

A fashion crawl along Dundas West

This west-end neighbourhood, home to much of the city’s Portuguese population for the past half century, is a stellar place to snap up custard tarts and catch a World Cup game. But it’s also a quality spot for keen-eyed fashion shoppers. Start your journey at the flagship boutique of Comrags, a local label that’s been making clean, modern wardrobe staples for more than 30 years. The 6,000-square-foot, two-storey space boasts a design studio above and a retail shop below, where sleek jacquard dresses, slouchy jumpsuits and polished coats all vie for your attention. comrags.com.

Across the street, PRiMAALA offers a well-edited collection of pieces in sizes from 12 to 24. Soft knit sweaters and patterned blazers are ideal for autumn layering, while wrap dresses and pencil skirts take the guesswork out of office attire. The space is nearly as pretty as the clothing, with ample natural light, floor-to-ceiling shelves and showstopper chandeliers. primaala.com.

Opened by the daughter of Portuguese immigrants, Saudade stocks an array of vividly coloured, handmade items from the country. The shop leans toward housewares and textiles, with plenty of woolly throws, pastel ceramic bowls and hefty cutting boards. (Also, decorative roosters in every conceivable hue.) But tucked within are carefully curated fashion buys, including woven bracelets, leather totes and gorgeously packaged lotions and soaps. saudadetoronto.com.

Photo, Arthur Mola.
Saudade

Easy Tiger allows you to fuel up — there’s a coffee counter in the back — and immediately resume shopping. The airy store has display cases of delicate gold jewellery, shelves of neutral bucket bags (with some lavender options thrown in) and more leather loafers than you could shake a muddler at. Muddlers, in fact, are also available, along with cocktail kits and pineapple-shaped tumblers for fashionable boozing. easytigergoods.com.

There’s no shortage of rainbow-bright pieces at Life of Manek, a mostly vintage clothing shop on Dundas West’s western edge. Look for silk kimonos in oranges and reds, floor-length patterned dresses and emerald Burberry heels. J-Brand jeans and mini fur clutches round out the eclectic collection. lifeofmanek.com.

Beauty break at Province Apothecary

This local skincare line has won international raves from Vogue, Refinery29 and InStyle for its natural, organic, sensitive skin–flattering products, which are formulated, blended and bottled by hand. (They also come in royal-blue containers that immediately class up a bathroom.) Bestsellers include an eczema balm made with calendula, rose hip and hemp oils and a delightful smelling cleanser with avocado and raspberry. You can pick some up at Urban Outfitters or Whole Foods, or else stop by the Dundas West boutique, where you can book yourself a facial, too. provinceapothecary.ca.

Canine couture in Leslieville

This east-end neighbourhood is bursting with perpetually packed brunch spots, meticulously crafted coffee, endlessly adorable babies — and many, many dogs. If you want your pup to stand out from the pack, head to one of the swish pet boutiques for a quick ensemble upgrade. (There is nothing cuter than a hound in houndstooth.) The Bone House offers buffalo-plaid bandanas made from warm Woolrich fabric and, for colder climes, bold checked jackets with detachable faux-fur hoods. Timmie excels at both athletic and formalwear: There are Blue Jays jerseys and spiffy striped bowties. Then head south to the lake so your pooch can strut his stuff on the promenade. thebonehouse.ca, timmie.ca.

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