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SF's Best Shops

Top Picks for 2010

This year’s Best Shops list has both newcomers and established San Francisco standbys that can cover you from head to toe, and more.

Best Cheeky Brand with Brick and Mortar Form: Nooworks
Jennifer D’Angelo’s Nooworks has come a long way since beginning as a T-shirt line in 2004. Recently relocating from the Western Addition to Valencia Street at 15th Street, D’Angelo has vastly expanded her offerings to full women’s collections, accessories, kidswear, and more, all while keeping with the tongue-in-cheek/vintage-chic aesthetic which made Nooworks so popular. From cheeky graphics with sayings like “Eat Sh*t & Die” (by the way, that also comes on baby’s onesies) to cartoony hot-dog necklaces and classy shrunken blazers, Nooworks has it, all still handmade in California!


Best Destination For the Sartorial Gent: Unionmade
The only San Francisco shop to make it into GQ’s “The 10 Best Independent Men’s Stores in America” list this November, Unionmade is a stylish man’s paradise. Nowhere is it truer that “you get what you pay for.” Everything here is meticulously selected for craftsmanship and quality. From custom footwear designed by the owner to classic French mariner pea coats to Scottish wool scarves and hats, all embody the stylish hardiness and timelessness the sartorialist demands.


Best Place To Stock Up on Tactical Gear: Triple Aught Design
Everything a world explorer could want or need for an expedition can be found at Triple Aught Design (TAD), now with two locations: the original Dogpatch headquarters and a newer Hayes Valley outpost. All TAD apparel and equipment is designed for adventurers who demand extraordinary performance and endurance without sacrificing style. Tactical jackets and non-flashy versatile packs are a few popular items that bring fans back. For your next outdoor adventure, make sure you stop by here first.


Best Multi-Disciplinary DIY Hipster Heaven: Workshop
Unacquainted with Kelly Malone? The ubiquitous leading local lady of the DIY movement has fashioned an empire at Workshop, where you’ll find classes ranging from screen-printing to sewing, heavy metal aerobics to glass jar terrariums. With class prices under $50, it’s cheap to get hip. Private lessons and studio time also available.


Best Place to Explore Your Inner Pinup Girl: Dollhouse Bettie
Dollhouse Bettie in Upper Haight, is a delightful purveyor of vintage and retro pinup style lingerie. Whether you’re interested in vintage lacy babydolls, sexily demure classic chemises, bustiers, sweet gartered teddies, sheer high-waist panties, Cuban-heeled pantyhose, and the like, there’s lots to fall in love with here, and pretty reasonably priced. This is also the only place you will find Dollhouse Bettie Original Designs, lingerie made by hand here in their San Francisco studio.


Best Natural Beauty/Skincare Supply: Nancy Boy
There are several things that make Nancy Boy unique: no advertising or fancy (gimmicky packaging) to bring better prices and better ingredients to customers. Natural essential plant oils lightly scent luxurious items like shaving creams, bubble baths, laundry soaps, and linen sprays, all sans artificial colors and fragrances.

Best Boutique to Find Designer Duds at Sample Sale Prices: Cary Lane
Tired of ogling the latest fashion magazines and not being able to afford any of the looks? Try Cary Lane, where you’ll find impeccably curated designer goods at wholesale prices that won’t make you cry. Look for coveted brands like Vena Cava, Theory, Charlotte Ronson, Loeffler Randall, Elizabeth and James, Ash, and United Nude to name a few. Owner Cary LaScala’s San Francisco-made line of dress shirts and bow ties are also available here.


Best Home Store: Zinc Details
Zinc Details started with a 200-square-foot store on Post Street two decades ago. Today with two locations and an in-house product line, Zinc has developed an enviable reputation and following. Design-savvy shoppers flock here for modern furniture and home accessories in a wide price range. It’s also a great place to find housewarming gifts. A small sampling of brands carried here includes Herman Miller, Kartell, Knoll, and Marimekko.


Best Comic Book Store: Isotope Comics
Getting to know the staff at Isotope Comics is a good thing; once they know what kinds of titles, storylines or artists you’re into, they’re happy to turn you on to others. The snazzy lounge is the perfect place to browse the books or admire the artist-autographed toilet seat gallery. Sharply dressed owner James and his employees are bastions of comic-book/graphic novel knowledge and happy to share. A nice mix of mainstream and indie, but no Archie or Japanese manga here.


Best Place To Get an Old Fashioned Shave: 1512 Barber Shop
Sal, owner of this two-seat establishment, specializes in straight razor shaves — the old fashioned kind with a hot towel and heated shaving cream — as well as men’s haircuts. If you’re still getting your hair cut at Supercuts, do yourself a favor and buck up and get an adult cut where your barber truly cares about the outcome. By appointment only, but you can schedule on his simple website, and prices won’t break the bank.


Best Mens’ Streetwear: Black Scale
Today, where T-shirt companies are a-dime-a-dozen, BLVCKSCVLE (Black Scale) shines as streetwear for the discerning. Offerings run predominantly towards the male spectrum, decidedly anti-hyphy. Aside from tastefully edgy cut-n-sew, footwear, and accessories, the San Francisco flagship constantly presents exclusive capsule collections for women and children.


Best Brow/Eyelash Bar: Eye Candy SF
Tracy Chavez, founder and owner of Eye Candy SF, has been working in skin care and beauty for over 15 years. With companies like Aveda, Kiehl’s and Smashbosh in her repertoire, Chavez has amassed a loyal following that swears by her eyebrow and eyelash treatments, threading, and makeup applications. Now located a skip and hop away from The Warfield, the centrally located salon is perfect for routine maintenance or complete makeovers.

Don't miss our top picks for recreation equipment and apparel stores next week.