Dress to impress: Top Toronto independent dress boutiques

Showing up to an event in the same dress as another woman is a fashion disaster. While questions about lack of style will arise, there’ll also be a judging contest as to who wore it better. Avoid the hassle and get your dress from one of these independent boutiques so that you never see your wardrobe twin out on the town.

Cats Craddle

1
596 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4Y 1Z3

It started off as a menswear store and switched genders in 1972 when it adopted its current name. Since then, there’s been a growing focus on women’s fashions, ranging from professional wardrobes to active and leisurewear. Canadian designers provide most of the clothing, although there’s a sampling of international designers as well. Once you’ve picked out the perfect dress, load up on accessories, many of which are store exclusives.

Fresh Collective

2
2116A Queen St E Main, Toronto, ON M4E 1E2

Fresh Collective has three boutiques in the city, all under the guidance of founder, Laura-Jean. She started the clothing shop to empower women, using the power of clothes to help them feel more beautiful and confident. It’s worked, with this boutique now taking an active interest in helping young designers succeed on their own through trunk shows and workshops. Wearing a Fresh Collective dress means feeling the passion behind it.

Coal Miners Daughter

3
87 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2K6

This is a relatively new player on the fashion scene in Toronto, having been established in 2009. But it’s made some serious strides, giving women a place to get the perfect dress for their body and personality. True to the independent spirit, each of the three stores has a slightly different collection, ensuring that your purchase will be unique. There’s also a strong focus on Canadian designers

Shopgirls Gallery Boutique

4
1342 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6K 1L4

The vast majority of women don’t look anything like runway models even though most clothes are designed to that extreme standard. Shopgirls is an independent boutique that dresses all body types. They practice the philosophy of shopping for your shape, which, when paired with their dresses, will make you look better than any model’s clothing ever could. And with about 75 per cent of the content being Canadian, you’re giving back to the community.

Doll Factory by Damzels

5
394 Roncesvalles Ave, Toronto, ON M6R 2M9

When a good girl wants a hint of mischief, she buys a dress from Doll Factory. These garments hug the female silhouette yet provide a noticeable rock ‘n’ roll edge. Most dresses promise a certain look when they’re still on a hanger and then fail to deliver, but not here. If you want the pin-up look, you’ll get the pin-up look. Hardest part is keeping your dress spree in single digits.

Fraiche

6
348 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2A2

The next time you’re on the north side of Queen West, keep an eye out for this easy-to-miss gem of a boutique. Fraiche loves experimenting with colours and patterns, showing a bold sense of style. And with such a daring streak in their dresses, this place is bound to have a few pieces that’ll find their way into your closet. But the part we like most is that there is always have a sale.

Any Direct Flight

7
1382 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L 1C9

One of the reasons French women are renowned worldwide for their sense of style is because they dress in timeless pieces. Classics will always find their place in any woman’s wardrobe, and the key is to look in a slightly more conservative than trendy direction. At this Leslieville shop, you’ll find elegant dresses that highlight the female form, as well as retaining a sophisticated aesthetic. The dress you buy here will always look good on you.

Black Daffodil

8
3097 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1Z9

Too many independent dress boutiques in Toronto focus only on a soft, delicate look, but women are strong and want their clothing to reflect it. The dresses here cover all different styles of women, with one common theme: glamour combined with an edgy “look at me” fashion. It’s a boutique for women who are tired of the cookie-cutter mould and looking to stand out in the crowd, yet still look distinctly feminine.

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