Greater Fort Lauderdale is more than just casual beach attire, our local fashion designers and boutique owners are global trendsetters.
Whether you live or vacation here, you probably think you know fashion in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Sure, bathing suits, flip-flops and easy-breezy dresses are our typical beach uniform — and when it comes to shopping, we have well-known malls like The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale with luxe stores like Neiman Marcus, massive Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, with its maze of 350 stores and outlets, and bustling Las Olas Boulevard, where you’ll find a broad mix of stores from Lilly Pulitzer to cosmetics-mecca Bluemercury.
But Greater Fort Lauderdale also has bragging rights to high-fashion events, sophisticated designers and local boutique owners who are making waves in the fashion industry here and across the world. We are the epitome of “shop local,” and here’s where you can immerse yourself in our true fashion scene.
Need a bikini fix? Self-made entrepreneur Alexandra Grief has put Fort Lauderdale on the map with her always ahead-of-the-trends swimwear line Montce. Grief started making and selling bikinis out of her small apartment, and they became so popular, that she opened her first store in 2013. Known for suits with a flawless and flattering fit, unique designs and nostalgic prints, Montce is now worn by celebs like J-Lo and Kendall Jenner and sold nationwide. Along with a new-ish Montce store in burgeoning Flagler Village in Fort Lauderdale, Grief has expanded with locations in buzzy Los Angeles and Hermosa Beach in California, with more extensions on the way.
Local Marisa Folz is another fashion success story. She started her traveling lifestyle boutique called The Wander Shop out of a 1963 Airstream trailer, and has since expanded to an Instagram-worthy boutique located in Oakland Park. The intimate boutique is packed with easy-to-wear and breathable clothing from flowy dresses, rompers/jumpers, skirts and pants that offer a true taste of Florida style. “I love sourcing Florida-based brands so that people visiting can bring something made from Florida back home,” says Folz, who admittedly loves chatting with visitors and offering her recommendations on what to do while in town.
Another hidden treasure is Briny Boutique, tucked away in a shopping center in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, where you’ll find a variety of styles from vibrantly colored sundresses to on-trend pieces for a night out along with basics like denim, tees, and loungewear. “I started in Fort Lauderdale because I knew that it was a rapidly growing area that would have a need for more clothing boutiques,” says Alexa Chaviano, who opened the boutique four years ago. “Fashion in Fort Lauderdale has evolved so much since I first opened my doors. There was always a beachy and laid-back vibe, but in recent years, it has become more fashion-forward and on-trend while still incorporating its relaxed style.”
Family-owned Etiquette Boutique gained such a following for their fashionable women’s clothing at accessible prices, that they now have two locations, including a shop near the Port on 17th Street. The adorable boutiques are always packed with vacation-worthy dresses, rompers, playsets and statement-making evening wear that won’t break the bank. (P.S. Shoppers love their loyalty plan, where customers get “Etiquette Bucks” to spend on their next purchase.) At Lilac and Lilies boutique, located near The Galleria at Fort Lauderdale, you’ll find racks of brand-name labels and up-and-coming designers handpicked by owner Michelle DiMarco. The owner’s boutique has been a Fort Lauderdale staple for more than a decade, and she recently expanded her popular store to a 2,300-square-foot space, and amped-up her online presence so people can shop from all over the world.
Our global appeal can also be found at La Vie En Blanc, a lifestyle boutique that’s filled with one-of-a-kind furnishings, home gifts and European clothing and accessories curated by owner and interior designer Caroline Giraud (who once designed the private residence for Prince Albert of Monaco). This is the place to find an outfit that no one else will be wearing. Giraud even visits Paris twice a year to collaborate with designers to develop a private clothing collection exclusive for her Fort Lauderdale store. “We use a lot of Italian linens and lightweight cotton fabrics, which are particularly sought after for this climate. I would consider the clothing to be sophisticated, clean, and always with a luxurious European flare,” says Giraud. “The jewelry I sell is also unique to South Florida, as the company Zag Bijoux, sells exclusively to me. They are a company based out of Paris, and are well known for producing beautiful, high-quality jewelry, with a bit of an edge.”
In addition to all those shopping gems, always keep an eye out for special events. Greater Fort Lauderdale has played host to some of the fashion world’s biggest names, from a 2017 Underground Lauderdale fashion show led by iconic designer Nicole Miller and “Project Runway” judge Nina Garcia to a dash of fashion from “Queer Eye’s” Tan France at the 2019 Riptide Music Festival. We also get to show off our high-fashion sense during FLL Fashion Week, which consists of runway shows at Greater Fort Lauderdale’s chic hotels featuring established and up-and-coming fashion designers, brands and models.
Already planning your next shopping trip? You can always let your credit card cool down at the beach.