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

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

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

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

Doll Factory by Damzels

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.


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

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

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.

Are you looking for Coconut Aminos? Trying to find raw, organic almonds in bulk? Want to buy organic cranberries or grass-fed beef? Look no further than these great stores.
From locally made fashion to custom jewellery, you’ll find what you’re looking for with a stroll down Ossington Avenue – and enough fab stores for a second trip. The strip is city-renowned for being one of the hottest streets for one-off fashion finds and accessories, international designers, and home décor bliss. [Image credit: iStock.com/ozgurcankaya]
Whether you’re a vintage-clothing lover looking to modernize a new treasure or a young professional seeking the perfect tapered trouser, one thing is for certain: you need a good tailor. With a slew of crafty clothiers across the city, all you have to do is take your ill-fitting piece in and let those nimble fingers work their magic. Here is our west end edition of Toronto’s top tailors. [Image credit: iStock.com/solidcolours]
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