Downtown Charleston is one of the best shopping destinations in the South. It's home to a flirtatious nightlife, dreamy Spanish-moss-draped oaks, Instagrammable candy-colored row houses, and picture-perfect waterfront views.
I grew up inspired and mesmerized by the vast assortment of tutus, pheasant feathers, white buckskin, pearls, bowties, straw hats, clam diggers, and Christian Louboutin's found throughout the streets of downtown.
King Street is long celebrated for its string of locally owned boutiques, exclusive consignment shops, antique stores, and luxury retailers. Charleston has not surprisingly been voted the number one city in the United States by America's top brand Travel + Leisure seven consecutive years in a row.
Being a true low-country girl, there's no other place that exudes Southern finery and class in my heart quite like, the darling city. Growing up, my fondness for the born from deeply seated memories boat hopping and rotating from Folly Beach, Isle of Palm and Sullivan's Island.
Reflecting on Charleston, my mind wanders back to those lazy beach days and the downtown shopping ritual my aunt Pep and I created. Bob Ellis, was our favorite indulgence. The King Street shoe treasure sadly closed its historic doors in 2016, but the memories that my aunt and I made there will last a lifetime.
Bob Ellis was the place I met and fell in love with Christian Louboutin. My feet are narrow with a high arch, leading to my aunt buying my first and most valued pair of red bottoms at fourteen. They were tri-color metallic flats with a pointed toe.
I adored them and m love for swanky shoes was born. Carrie, a very astute modelesque black woman that oozed Southern sophistication was our salesperson. I remember hints of the day Pat first told Carrie about my peculiarly narrow feet and high arch. Moments later I met my shoe soulmate.
That was the day I first learned Christian Louboutin's were designed perfectly for my feet. A match made in heaven. From that Saturday on, during Bob Ellis bi-annual sales Carrie pulled shoes for me too.
Pat was middle-class, but to me, she was rich. She was sophisticated, embodied effortless style and carried quiet confidence at all times. She gave her special shoes and her collection could hang with the best of fashion icons.
Our shopping ritual started early Saturday mornings. She made us Maxwell House coffee and croissants before hopping in her white Camaro TransAm with a red screaming chicken (true story) on the side and cruise downtown.
Pat and I often met up with my mom or one of my aunts and we'd start at Bob Ellis. Our next stop was Berlins, another Charleston shopping staple. The excursion was fancy, and those momentous bonding experiences set the stage with the foundation of the relationships I'd form with my own girlfriends and my passionate love affair for gorgeous shoes and authentic style.
After committing shoe shopping damage at Bob Ellis we'd peruse Meeting and King Streets. Boutique hopping was a delicate art for her that she generously passed down to me. Most days we'd end up at the Charleston Place Hotel. Back then it felt big, luxurious and sultry. I'd often dreamt about staying there someday.
I've been mesmerized by the deep-seated tradition of southern elegance and charm deep-steeped in the city and Charlestonians. To celebrate and keep the tradition alive Pep introduced me to as a young girl, annually I journey down to Charleston to keep our tradition alive.
I stay at The Belmond Charleston Place (formerly The Charleston Place) which sits between Meeting and King streets. Today Charleston still feels as vibrant and magical as the city I first met. It's beautifully historic architecture, one of a kind fashion boutiques, James Beard award-winning chefs and restaurants and of course - genuinely friendly locals make it easy to adore.
In celebration of the Lowcountry, I look forward to dressing up when visiting the city. This trip one of my fave looks was draping the Pastel Rose Tie-Front Duster over the Camel Lace Bodysuit and dripping myself in neck candy.
When you visit the downtown Charleston, I recommend that you start your boutique browsing on Lower King Street. You'll find the locally owned one-of-a-kind boutiques mixed with antique shops. As you head down Lower King, you'll run into bigger fashion brands like the Row, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs and then right at The Belmont you can find St. John, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton.
Hit up Meeting street and the side streets that connect the two too. You don't have to be a from the Lowcountry to appreciate the endless ways to fall in love with Charleston. The versatility in shopping boutiques, fun nightlife, dreamy Spanish-moss-draped oaks, and Instagrammable candy-colored row houses await you.
Plus Charleston's food scene is insane with too many 'can't go wrong' options. but A few of my fave restaurants and hangouts are Leon's, the Living Room bar at The Dewberry Hotel (the chicest bar in the south), Magnolia's, Charleston Grill inside The Belmont, Thoroughbred Club inside The Belmont.