Westheimer Road, Houston
The socialite’s sector.
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1—What’s a better hostess gift than a dozen cloudlike peonies? How about a UT Longhorn topiary? A Tiger Woods in Asian ivy? River Oaks Plant House has all this and more and for generations has maintained a special place in the hearts of homeys by filling its adjacent esplanade with leafy fantasy figures that beg to be delivered to any front lawn, as long as it’s at least half an acre. 3401 Westheimer Rd., 713-622-5350
2—Sure, the haute Tex-Mex at Armandos is within driving distance, but André’s—now Thierry Andre Tellier Cafe and Pastry Shop—is a relic from another time, a trip back to the days when people made their money in plain old oil instead of oil and private equity. Order the River Oaks Cake, an over-the-top confection of chocolate and raspberry, and sit at one of the checkered-cloth tables to eavesdrop on the way it used to be and is again. 2515 River Oaks Blvd., 713-524-3863
3—Yes, the rich are different from you and me: They read more travel and design books. River Oaks Bookstore has a passel of those, but it’s as cozy as your grandma’s private library: plush chairs, brewed coffee, and a collection of local histories that includes Enron for Dummies, a self-published defense of the (otherwise) vilified corporation. The salespeople here actually know what you might want to read on that flight to Dubai—or even Dallas. 3270 Westheimer Rd., 713-520-0061
4—“Mom, Stacy wants to know what else is going in Dad’s shopping center,” a customer at A Bientot asked, nearly buried behind the rich-girl accessories proffered at shockingly reasonable prices. These bracelets, handbags, sundresses, shawls, and sunglasses evoke (or, rather, honor) much pricier designer goods. And don’t forget the nipple covers and deodorant-stain erasers—the kinds of things no heiress-in-training can do without. 3268 Westheimer Rd., 713-523-3997
5—Kastafior convinces that good costume jewelry is as sexy as better bling—and you can buy so much more of it! The best dressed come to this unprepossessing old bungalow to accessorize with just the right shade of coral or turquoise or cerise. The only trouble is that the options—rhinestones and Bakelite and beads, oh my!—are near hallucinogenic. Not for sufferers of shopper’s fatigue. 3201 Westheimer Rd., 713-523-6522
6—Thank God socialites have to have new wardrobes every season! More Than You Can Imagine is a gently recycled boutique for the rest of us— and some penny-pinching River Oaks types too. Scour the crammed racks for everything from Chanel and Lanvin to Zac Posen and Prada. And girls, there are Manolos and Jimmy Choos lurking on those shelves—and Chloé handbags too. 2817 Westheimer Rd., 713-668-8811
7—There’s something instantly soothing about Sloan/Hall. Maybe it’s the beautiful packaging and sophisticated scents of the soaps, unguents, and candles, the hip but pricey jewelry, the breathy Eurowhatever on the sound system, or all that erotica masquerading as art books. Regardless, this chichi version of a card shop never disappoints. The silk tunics in country-club colors are a must for any self-respecting deb-fashionista. 2620 Westheimer Rd., 713-942-0202
8—Where to go when you need a copy of The American Frugal Housewife, a Cuisinart, a drain for the sink, an old-fashioned flyswatter, and/or gourmet doggie treats? Or a gimme cap that says “Dude With the Food”? An apron lettered “Diva in Training”? River Oaks denizens head for Buffalo Hardware Co., the neighborhood equivalent of Target. Go yourself or send the maid. Or the driver. 2614 Westheimer Rd., 713-524-1011