If there's a quintessential Charleston look, it's a white button-down shirt, navy sports-coat, khaki pants, and a bow-tie. Personally, I think it is awesome. I was thrilled, when, on our first afternoon in town, I saw a professorial man in his early 40s wearing this very outfit without a trace of irony.
Thomas said there would be more men dressed like that, but sadly, that dapper gentleman outside Queen Street Grocery was the only one I saw. What I did see, instead, were a whole lot of college students in baggy jeans and ill-fitting cargo pants. Where are they buying those? Certainly not at any of the following four stores, which out of all the cool shops we visited in Charleston — including the city's fabled Hampden Clothing — had the coolest stuff of all:
Indigo & Cotton
The stretch of Cannon Street just west of upper King is, to us, one of Charleston's most interesting neighborhoods — mostly due to the new wave of business that have started to spring up there. Indigo & Cotton is one such spot. We loved its farm-tinged vintage vibe and super-focused selection of menswear from American heritage brands like Save Khaki, Imogene & Will, Raleigh Denim, Shinola, and Levis Vintage. It's the kind of place that lends itself to a full-on, immersive browsing experience, especially since they also stock a sprinkling of objects you can't help but want: rustic earthenware vases from California-based duo Kat & Roger, city field guides by Wildsam, and boob-tastic handmade planters by Brooklyn artist Universal Isaac.
Mac & Murphy
This little stationery shop housed in a tiny brick building is about as cute as they come. Even the adorably askew cement flower planters out front will have you saying "aw." But despite its twee aesthetic, Mac & Murphy is actually kind of cheeky: For every hand-bound notebook covered in hearts, there's a smart-ass note card, too. One of our favorites: The new baby missive that simply says "Good luck with that."
Where to shop in Charleston if you don't subscribe to the typical Southern Belle aesthetic? Our money's on Worthwhile. The dimly-lit shop is filled with a moody selection of women's pieces from the likes of Rick Owens, Gary Graham, The Elder Statesman, and Uma Wang. In addition to all the origami culottes and dishabille dresses in shades of black, Worthwhile also stocks a damn good selection of apothecary items from Laboratory Perfumes and Astier de Villate. In short, everything you need to cure any mass-market malaise caused by lower King Street's surrounding shops.
We weren't expecting to like this place so much. A shop full of candles, wha? But it's so much better than that. First of all, it's set up like a big, old library, complete with floor-to-ceiling shelves and those fun-looking sliding-wall ladders. Second, it's totally interactive. Tell them which fragrances you like, and they'll recommend blends by looking them up in a giant, leather-bound book filled with hand-written lists. You'll feel like you're in a really good-smelling wizard's chamber.