Shoes: Lara Bernasconi
Great prices, great shoes! Funky, simple and elegant flats, heels, boots, sandals and even bags (not so fantastic as the shoes though) line the walls of this eclectic apartment-style shop. The entrance is a little hidden; go up the staircase after ringing the buzzer. Malabia 1753 at Costa Rica. Official site (English).
Tango Shoes: Flabella
Without question, the most popular (and beautiful) brand of tango shoes is Comme il Faut, which can be found in many online stores, like Maleva Shoes in Miami Beach or Felina Shoes in New York City. They’re handmade, like most tango shoes, and the most ornate you’ll find. The heels are even specially designed to keep you from tripping or stumbling when walking backward. Put frankly by the brand’s founder, these shoes were designed by and for women who know one pair of shoes is never enough.
But at US$199 a pair, an alternative may be necessary. This is where Flabella comes in. Walking past this store window is hard to do. These handmade heels sparkle with satin and glitter in colors you’d never expect on a shoe. They’ll make your shoes to order if you have a larger foot, but they have many pairs for sale on site, so you can always walk out with something in your hand. Don’t be embarrassed to wear your tango shoes like normal high heels—the Argentines will know, but no one in the U.S. will! They sell on their web site, too. Suipacha 263 at Diagonal Norte. Official site (in English and Spanish).
Costume Jewelry: Los Vados del Isen
The funky hairclips, necklaces and bracelets you’ll find here make great gifts. (They’re small, easy to pack and one-size-fits-all.) Everything is one of a kind and covered in velvet, sparkles and feathers… yet surprisingly versatile. You can even buy online. Guido 1699 at Rodriguez Peña. Official site (Spanish only).
Lingerie: Mint Karamel
Argentine women are petite, so naturally their lingerie is wonderful, handmade and inexpensive—if you’re the same size. They don’t carry sizes much higher than an American 10 in Buenos Aires, but these bra and panty sets, coated in lace and decked in ribbon, are often adjustable (making them even harder to avoid). Mint Karamel also happens to be one of the most inexpensive places to buy handmade lingerie in the city. My favorite part? Many of the matching sets come with an eye mask made of the same silky material. Arenales 1791 at Av. Callao. Official site.
Leather Goods: Chic
The neighborhood Retiro is known for its leather shops, and this is my favorite. The quality is superb, and best of all, you won’t find every woman in Buenos Aires toting around your new bag. Chic carries young styles for men and women and has an especially great selection of bags, but you’ll also find leather jackets, shoes and belts. Marcelo T. de Alvear 732 at Maipú. Official site.
Comic Books: El Club del Comic
This tiny comic book store is stacked from floor to ceiling with bins of AR$3 cheapie airplane reads to collectors’ editions of Batman! You’ll find Superman in English and Spanish, and plenty of other strange comics you didn’t know existed. It’s a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. M.T. Alvear 2002 at Ayacucho. Be careful—there’s an Alvear and a Marcelo T. Alvear. This one’s on the latter. Official site.
-Tara for TKGO City Guides