Metro-chic buys for any budget

In the country’s sixth-largest city, there are a lot of places to shop. And unfortunately, when I first moved to Philadelphia, I wasted a lot of time in stores that were distasteful, overpriced
and devoid of anything resembling decent fashion.

On the bright side, after years of perusing through racks at dozens of stores in Center City and beyond, I have found what I believe to be the best stores and districts for getting your shop on. Let’s start with the obvious: Center City. Zara, Loehmann’s, two H&Ms and three GAP stores – there is a lot to see. A couple of my favorites include Anthropologie at 18th and Walnut streets and Buffalo Exchange at 17th and Chestnut streets.

Anthropologie sits right on Rittenhouse
Square and offers four floors of clothes, shoes, accessories and an assortment of goodies. It’s also the Anthropologie chain’s first location, and the building itself (originally from the early 1900s) is full of character. Buffalo Exchange is for the shopper who isn’t intimidated by the idea of really diving into racks of disorganized clothing.

There are some great first- and second-hand finds there. For a $15 Diane von Furstenberg tank top or a $20 Juicy Couture zip-up, you must be willing to dig.

A few blocks southeast of the Walnut/Chestnut shopping area is South Street. An eclectic mix of clothing stores sit next to art galleries, sex shops and tattoo parlors. Fashionista on 9th Street and Guacamole on 4th Street are two of my favorites, but on South Street you can find a store to fit any style. The Gallery at Market East, next to Temple’s School of Podiatry, is a mall full of hit-or-miss stores.

Guess?, on the top level, is one of my favorite places to get jeans and going-out shoes. If you are willing to step outside
the city, there are some great stores at the Franklin Mills Mall and the infamous King of Prussia. When you go to Franklin Mills, be sure to wear your walking shoes. The mall is only one level, but it is huge. At Steve and Barry’s, you can purchase Temple gear that isn’t overpriced like it is at the Student Center bookstore. They also carry fashion lines by Sarah Jessica Parker and Amanda Bynes.

While at the mall, be sure to visit the Last Call Neiman Marcus and Off Saks outlets for deeply discounted designer attire. What can I say about the King of Prussia Mall?

Second in size only to Minneapolis’ Mall of America, King of Prussia really might have it all. The last time I was there, I fell in love with a new store on the middle level called Heritage. Owned by the parent company Forever 21, it’s an affordable men’s and women’s line of laid-back, slightly funky everyday-wear.

Mary C. Schell can be reached at


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