Culture & Style

Charleston Travel Guide: Style Navigator

Where to Stay, What to See & Do, and a List of Great Local Shops—A Charleston Travel Guide With Everything You Need to Plan a Fun Getaway With Your Best Girlfriends.

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LOOKING FOR A REASON TO PLAN A GETAWAY WITH YOUR BEST GIRLFRIENDS? ON THE HUNT FOR YOUR NEXT FAVORITE DESTINATION?

Consider Charleston, the coastal city with sunny weather, a great dining scene, plenty of picturesque sights, and incredible shopping.

Did You Know? A growing number of talented up-and-coming apparel, jewelry, and housewares designers are drawing inspiration from Charleston’s iconic Southern style and laid-back coastal lifestyle. Their creative energy is palpable, resulting in pop-up shops, exciting collaborations, and brands with a national presence.

PLAN A FUN-FILLED TRIP WITH YOUR BEST GALS WITH THESE INSIDER TIPS.

THE SCENE

As a child living on Little Palm Island, the idyllic Relais & Châteaux resort near Key West, Florida, Neely Powell often resembled the barefoot version Eloise at The Plaza—an unlikely beginning for someone destined to head a burgeoning shoe empire.

“My dad owned a five-acre tropical island, while my mother had a furniture factory in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, so my horizons were broad,” says Neely.

During a visit to San Miguel in 1996, Neely met a cobbler making colorful, comfortable sandals with a rubber sole for $25 a pair. She was a freshman at the College of Charleston and returned to school with a suitcase full of shoes, which she sold for $35 a pair.

“I wasn’t making a dime,” says Neely with a laugh. ” I didn’t think about margins. I was in my 20s and got joy out of watching people’s reactions when they tried on the shoes.”

She eventually took business classes and branded her shoes under the Charleston Shoe Company name. With 40 shoe styles, 15 stores, and a recent profile published by Forbes, Neely is a #GirlBoss on the move.

THE TASTEMAKER

Autumn has arrived according to the calendar; however, Charleston’s mild weather tells a different story. Light layers are the key to dressing for a Southern getaway. Molly Blatt, a senior stylist with Trunk Club, shares three tips on what to pack.

One of the best items to pack is an ultra soft cashmere wrap, which blends practicality with panache. Casually drape it over a daytime outfit to complete the look, or throw it over your shoulders at night if the temperature dips.

The secret to versatile travel apparel starts with wardrobe foundations. Pack a flowy dress. To turn heads at dinner, seek out a classic silhouette with interesting details. Transform the dress to daytime wear by layering it under a leather or denim jacket.

A flat mule is an ideal shoe to wear while exploring Charleston—especially when walking on cobblestone streets. Mules have made a resurgence, and there are a lot of stylish options. Another bonus: They don’t take up much room in the suitcase.

Charleston is one of those unique cities that teases style out of everyone and everything. there is a lot happening on the original design front; be sure to leave room in your luggage for new finds.

On the Radar
Taxidermy, a luxury accessories brand based in Charleston, combines classic styles and exotic leathers like this python clutch at Finicky Filly.
303 King Street

Cinderella Story
Designed in Charleston by Danielle Mason Hosker, Mason Hosker dresses are known for luxe fabrics, timeless silhouettes, and a dash of drama.
17 State Street

Gossamer Wings
Only in Charleston would a gilded Palmetto bug be the hot new thing! Designed by “Mini” Mariana Hay, a member of the fourth generation to work at the venerable family-owned Croghan’s Jewel Box, the popular Goldbug Collection includes earrings, necklaces, cuffs, and crest rings.
308 King Street

Local Sole
The Cannon wedge from the locally-owned Charleston Shoe Company will take its wearer from “cobblestones to cocktails.” One of the company’s all-time best sellers according to founder Neely Powell.
Charleston City Market, 188 Meeting Street

LOCAL FINDS

For more than a decade, Hampden Clothing has imported looks fresh from runways in Paris and New York, and this fashion-forward boutique is just hitting its stride. Racks are filled with apparel from 3.1 Phillip Lim, Carven, Stella McCartney, and more.
314 King Street

If Willy Wonky designed an accessories capsule collection for Barney’s, it might look like Candy Shop Vintage, the locally-owned boutique stocked with whimsical baubles that blend vintage style with a modern aesthetic.
9 Cannon Street

IBU Movement imports unusual hand-loomed luxury items—think dolman sleeve jackets made from cotton saris found in India—from far-flung points around the globe.
183 B King Street

Chic French curios are found at Lily, a decidedly feminine boutique with witty greeting cards, cookbooks, vintage jewelry, and more.
251 King Street

Candlefish is a chic store known for its “library” of bespoke candle scents.
71 Wentworth Street

Looking for the perfect white button-down? Head to Shirtini.
192 King Street

Looking for retro-style sunglasses? Head to Friedrich Optik.
194 King Street

WHERE TO STAY

With two four-poster beds from the Baker Historic Charleston Collection, Planters Inn’s Deluxe Double Queen Guest Room is the ideal accommodation for friends traveling together. Located at the corner of Meeting and Market streets—across the street from the popular Charleston City Market and one block from King Street, Planters Inn is ideally situated for shopping at the best local boutiques.
112 N Market Street

AL FRESCO WITH FRIENDS

Sunshine, a leisurely meal, and a sidewalk table—the perfect recipe for people-watching. Here’s a list of popular spots with outdoor dining.

SIP & SAVOR

Start the day with a chai latte or a cold-pressed juice at The Daily.
652 King Street

A late breakfast at The Park Café is yet another lovely way to start the day. Light dishes and fresh ingredients. And, yes, the avocado toast is delicious.
730 Rutledge Avenue

Tiny Monza fills quickly thanks to its housemade limoncello and Neapolitan pizzas.
451 King Street

Nab a small table in the alley at Rue de Jean, the French bistro with a vibrant bar scene.
39 John Street

Thai favorites like Tom Kha Gai, Yum Yai, and red curry duck are served at Basil—watch the spice!
450 King Street Street

Southern-style seafood is served with a view of the harbor at Fleet Landing.
186 Concord Street

The patio is a happening scene at Leon’s, an old auto-body-shop-turned-fried-chicken-joint that hits a sweet note of nostalgia with their soft serve ice cream cones covered in sprinkles.
689 King Street

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is a delightful grab-and-go food counter inside the Charleston City Market. Signature biscuits include buttermilk, country ham, and blackberry.
188 Market Street

 

There are so many great casual restaurants in Charleston, but if you’re looking for something more elegant, head to the Peninsula Grill. It’s a white tablecloth restaurant with a candle-and lantern-lit courtyard. The dinner menu is seasonal and largely Southern, with a world famous coconut cake for dessert.

– GOOP

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