The 10 Commandments of Dressing Local: Where to Shop and What to Get

If you're anything like us, you like to wear your Cleveland pride on your sleeve (and we mean that literally). Now, with the abundance of locally-focused shops and wares, finding sweet Cleveland swag is easier than ever. Here are some of our favorite spots.

I Tops

Since 2008, the CLE Clothing Company has been making locals look good with their line of snazzy T's (plus a whole lot more). Where this shop earns points is in its dedication to reproducing inside jokes and references on their apparel that only true Clevelanders can appreciate. Whether it's taking jabs at the ever-inconsistent Northeast Ohio weather, capturing the city's undying love for our sports teams, or reproducing iconic 216 images (the West Side Market, the old Municipal Stadium, and Whiskey Island, to name a few), the CLE Clothing Company has dozens of designs to fit every style and mood. Peruse their vast selection of men's and women's T's online and in-store, downtown on East Fourth Street or at Native Cleveland (another fabulous local hotspot) on Waterloo Road.

II Jewelry

When it comes to fine, fashionable, wearable art we simply adore Erika Originals. Erika Hansen, the young Cleveland mastermind behind the line, produces beautiful, one-of-a-kind creations from old scraps and knickknacks such as keys, book pages, metal settings, chains, and other random trinkets, all of which can be easily dressed up or down as needed. Browse her selection of map-work jewelry, too, for stunning pieces that depict the city's downtown and outlying neighborhoods. Visit her online at

III Dresses

Lakewood's YellowCake boutique is home to a fabulous collection of women's (yellowcake), men's (beefcake) and kid's (minicake) apparel, all hand designed and crafted by Clevelander Valerie Mayen, whom you may remember from Season 8 of Project Runway. Each piece is finished with detailed thread, giving her apparel that unique YellowCake flavor and flair. We particularly love her collection of dresses, wearable on casual Saturday mornings, flashy nights out on the town, or at conservative family functions. Her dresses also boast an off-the-runway look with everyday practicality: Many include pockets—we love that!

IV Outerwear

You may have to dig a bit and brush off some fuzzies at Unique Thrift on Lorain Avenue, but put in the time and you'll surely walk out with some real gems. On practically a daily basis, this second-hand shop receives boatloads of donations of used and second-hand winter wear, and many a Clevelander can attest to finding great steals on pea coats, rain coats, trench coats, and a plethora of other cold-weather essentials. Did we mention that Mondays are half-off too?

V Bags

Blush Boutique in Coventry sports a lovely collection of retro-looking totes, satchels, and purses (as well as jewelry, soaps and apparel) that appeal to grungy Cleveland hipsters and miniskirt wearing suburban moms alike. Many of their bags feature funky stamps and prints and are the products of local independent and emerging designers. Prices are fairly reasonable, but Blush does have strict policies about returns and exchanges.

VI Bottoms

Carve out a couple of hours to browse the racks at Avalon Exchange (in Coventry and Lakewood), where you'll find a generous selection of gently used clothing, as well as hot deals on designer names like Louis Vuitton, Prada, Betsey Johnson and the like. Here, you can score pretty much any type of "bottom" that you're looking for, be it bright pink-and-yellow spanx, pleather skirts, retro swishy track pants or ever-fashionable hoodie-footie onesies. Make room in your closet before stopping by and sell last season's apparel to the folks behind the counter for hard cash or store credit. It's a win-win.

VII Eco-Wear

Dust off your social responsibility cap and make your way to Banyan Tree boutique in Tremont where you'll find eco-friendly wares aplenty: Adorable print cardigans, comfy flats, wooly socks, silk screened T's, handmade bow ties— yep, it's all here. Banyan Tree also has lots of cute knickknacks that you didn't realize you needed until suddenly you do (Cleveland skyline wineglasses? Yes, please), making it the perfect place to shop for last minute gifts and treats for yourself.

VIII Accessories & Shoes

Flower Child on Clifton Boulevard is more of a sensory-exploiting labyrinth than a store, and we mean that in the best way possible. Work your way through the 15-plus rooms and find a treasure trove of vintage accessories—everything from 1950s costume jewelry to rival your crazy aunt's collection, to retro Disney character watches with twitchy ticking arms and funky, disco-era belts, gently used hair pieces, old school Playboy pins, buckles, and tie clips—all stacked, piled, and pushed together in frenzied disarray. They also have hoards of period shoes—high top sneakers, patent leather, velvet flats, roller shoes, badass cowboy boots, and the like. You'll be hard pressed to find such variety anywhere else in the state of Ohio.

IX Hats

Clevelander Alex Harris opened up Family First Clothing Company just a year or so ago, but has already made a name for himself in the city's clothing sphere. Family First features an eclectic mix of Cleveland swag—think T's, tanks, hoodies and hats—that make you look fresh without breaking the bank. Their beanies and hats are stamped with the company's logo FAM, which serves as a reminder of the company's motto: Family is what you make it and always comes first no matter what.

X Miscellany

Is it cheating if we cram a handful of other fabulous stores into the final category? We think not. Deering Vintage on West 25th is home to a huge collection of vintage apparel for ladies and gents, as well as old school cards, magazines, and photos. Visit the Cleveland Shop for terrific costumes and fancy Friday outfits. This place also offers rentals so don't fret about selecting a one-time getup. Browse the racks at Thrift Nation in Parma to find great steals on business-casual attire. If, after all this, a day of vintage shopping seems overwhelming—and trust us, we know it can be—start out at Sweet Lorain on Lorain Avenue It's one of the most organized thrift shops we've frequented. Happy shopping, Cleveland.

About The Author

Alaina Nutile

Alaina Nutile is the Web Editor who oversees all digital content and social media initiatives for Cleveland Scene Magazine and Detroit Metro Times. Before joining the staff in June 2013, she interned at Business Insider in New York City, and at La Hora in Quito, Ecuador. Alaina is a graduate of Kalamazoo College...
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