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Top quality fashion with a personal touch

The avid San Francisco shopper knows her hotspots. She finds the hidden gems in Hayes Valley and North Beach, and steers clear of department stores at all cost. And if she's really on top of her game, she's already discovered Femme, an exquisite boutique that sits alone on Van Ness at Pacific.

Designed like a Victorian boudoir befitting a princess, this space feels more regal than retail. And the well-selected clothing inside is equally splendid. You'll not find racks and racks of seasonal standards, but rather, carefully selected designer pieces, many of which are one-of-a-kind, and all of which are of the moment.

Femme was the vision brought to life by Sarah Lincoln, a vivacious fashionista who adores fine clothing, but always strove to stretch her money. Her idea for Femme was to create a top quality shop with reasonable prices so customers feel good - not guilty - about their purchases.

Clearly, she chose the correct formula for success as she was able to land the Diane von Furstenburg account and secure the sought-after Byron Lars line of tailored shirts. That line is now carried by Saks as well, but Femme remains the only boutique in San Francisco that's been chosen to sell Lars' sexy silhouette: a classic man's shirt cut for a woman's body. Lincoln also carries select vintage pieces the like of which you won't stumble upon by chance. She recently located Chanel evening wear and a Burberry raincoat. Her secret? An LA stylist who kindly passes on pieces chosen for her crème de la crème clientele. It's obvious that Lincoln's charm and drive have endeared her to many fashion insiders who believe she (and her shop) have what it takes to compete with the very best.

In addition to a fine buyer's eye that keeps Femme fashion-forward, Lincoln offers those little extras that make the shopping experience pure pleasure. Recent visits to her salon found her offering customers champagne while they browsed and presenting their purchases on lovely hand-sewn hangers, embellished with tiny flowers or marabou trim. It should also be said that the etiquette-savvy Ms. Lincoln sends hand-written thank you postcards to customers who shop her store. Buy there and you'll not only enjoy your purchases, but Sarah's perfect politesse as well.

More than just a fabulous shopping venue, Femme also acts like a showplace for local designers and a social venue for sales. Lincoln always features at least one local jewelry designer to promote local up-and-comers and she hosts seasonal sales events. In April, she sponsored a "Relax after Tax" event with mini-massages and a pay-no-sales-tax policy. The rest of the year will bring other thematic events; so be sure to look for the next one in July.

And if all of this weren't enough evidence of Femme's endless appeal, consider the fact that this writer hesitated to publish this piece for fear of sharing such a rare gem. Femme is a one-of-a-kind find that you'll want to keep all to yourself. But let's face it, when a secret's that good, you just have to share it!

2103 Van Ness Avenue
(Van Ness @ Pacific)
Phone: 415.441.3334
Hours: Thursday (noon - 8 pm), Friday (11 am - 7 pm),
Saturday - Sunday (11 am - 5 pm), Monday (11 am - 7 pm),
Tuesday - Wednesday by appointment