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Guerrilla fashion 

I'd like to think my sense of fashion is pretty spot-on. Some of my friends and family probably don't agree, but what do they know? However, after spending four years at a university where everyone wore the same Hollister t-shirts, Rainbow sandals and Charlotte Russe jeans day after day, I grew extremely bored. Certainly there had to be more to life than expensive manufactured labels that everyone and their mom wore, right? Yep. My boredom drove me to wander around some of the more off-kilter clothing and accessory shops in the Triangle area. I discovered everything from $20 silk pants to Messiah Mints (yeah, I know...).

$$$ A little pricey
$$ Money left over
$ Oh, yeah!

So if you're in the 919 area code and in dire need of some non-conformist gear, check out the stores listed below. They'll be sure to have you scratching your chin, saving some money or doing your victory dance, and best of all, you'll get dressed in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say "Damn! Am I cool or what?" At least that's what I do now.

Durham

Vaguely Reminiscent (728 Ninth St., 286-3911)

Located on Ninth St across the street from George's Garage, Vaguely Reminiscent is by far the most colorful and interesting store I've ever been to. It's a little small, but that doesn't stop it from bursting at the seams with various trinkets like cardboard birdhouses, eco-friendly birthday cards, Anne Taintor magnets and a little thing called Med School in a Box (for you low-budget potential doctors out there). Oh, and they have tons of cool clothes and accessories. $$

Native Threads (712 Ninth St., 286-6666)

A few doors down from Vaguely Reminiscent is another funky shop, Native Threads. Featuring clothing and gems from around the world, the store creates a laid-back aura that's certain to make the customer feel at home. If you're down to do a little digging, this place has a bit of everything (and I do mean everything), from fedoras and bohemian tops to handmade drums and books on human society and sentient health. And if you're not too keen on the wonderful smell of incense, you may want to either hold your breath while in there or find another place to shop. There's also a huge frog in the front of the store, which adds to the awesomeness of it all. $

Also: Encore! (2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., 403-0495)

Raleigh

nv—clothes for men (4209-134 Lassiter Mill Road, 787-3038)

The dudes are often left out when it comes to fashion and shopping articles. I'd apologize, but that's not really my fault. Instead, I'll circumvent that by recommending a store called nv. Started by two women in 2005, nv features everything from blazers and polos to swimwear and jeans. Popular brands include Joe's Jeans, Purple Label and English Laundry. And get this: the store even has a wine and beer fridge and free denim tailoring. Can't beat that, can ya? $$$

Bargain Box (401 Woodburn Road, 833-7587)

Run by the Junior League of Raleigh, the Bargain Box offers high quality second-hand merchandise to the area. You'll be giving to a good cause while shopping, since the store donates thousands of dollars of its profit (and some merchandise) to county organizations that serve the less fortunate. $

Also: Buddha's Belly (2112 Hillsborough St., 664-8099)

Chapel Hill

Uniquities (452 W. Franklin St., 933-4007)

This boutique is strictly for the ladies (fellas, you had your shine already). While Franklin Street is home to a plethora of clothing sites, Uniquities is the most sophisticated and chic. It's very neatly organized, with jeans, dresses, racerback tanks and other tops lining the walls and sale or clearance items toward the very back. The store features all of the high-end "it" brands, including T by Alexander Wang, Citizens of Humanity, Alice + Olivia and of course, Marc Jacobs. Although the shop has a limited selection of handbags and shoes (I did see a magenta Chloe bag and a pair of Dolce Vita stilettos), it does have an abundance of clothing for every occasion. $$$

Skylight Exchange (405 ½ W. Rosemary St., 933-5550)

So this isn't a clothing store, but who cares? I think it's worthy enough to be mentioned. Hidden away on Rosemary Street, this restaurant/used book and record store/ performance venue hybrid is one of the best—yet relatively unknown—places to unwind in Chapel Hill. The list of sandwiches is about as long as a full-sized man, and the "Sweet Elvis" is definitely for all the peanut butter, banana and honey fanatics out there. In short, Skylight Exchange is an excellent place to study, eat, read, surf the 'Net or just....chill. $

Also: Apple Boutique (133 W. Franklin St., 932-9280)

Carrboro

Club Nova (103 W. Main St., Suite D, 967-6985)

Club Nova is a quaint, blink-and-you'll-miss-it thrift shop, one of a few on the same street. Due to its size, the shop is perfect when it comes to clothing, back issues of magazines, knick knacks and things of that nature. But if you're looking for cheap, working electronics, you might want to find another place. It's conveniently located next-door to Wendy's (everyone knows that one Wendy's in Carrboro), so you can shop and get your grub on. $

The Red Hen (201 W. Weaver St., 942-4420)

For those with little bundles of joy and looking to save money, this place is definitely for you. This boutique, aimed at moms, moms-to-be and children, sells only gently used merchandise at great prices. The store has four rooms, each with its own theme and products. "Sugar and Spices" and "Snipes and Snails" feature girls' and boys' clothing, respectively. "Roots and Wings" houses pregnancy items and "Everything else" has just that...everything else (i.e. toys, diapers, etc.). There are inside and outdoor playrooms, changing stations, and rocking chairs for breastfeeding, necessities that make moms feel right at home. Further, the store showcases the works of local artists, musicians, authors and jewelry designers. The Red Hen was also named the year's best local children's clothing store in the Indy's "Best of the Triangle 2008,", and shoppers still consider it top-notch. $$

Also: Chicken Noodle Soup (102 E. Main St., Suite A, 968-4660)

  • If you're in the 919 area code and in dire need of some non-conformist gear, check out these stores.

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