While it may be the byproduct of gentrification and other popular controversies, for the purposes of this column all I care about is that shopping on North Mississippi is getting better and better. There's the Memoir/Duchess shop (909 N Beech), where you can find clothing made from vintage patterns, plus custom suits and paper goods. Then just around the corner is Pin Me Apparel (3705 N Mississippi), where there is a dress to flatter every woman (and a coat and a blouse...). More recently, Phlox (3962 N Mississippi) opened its doors, offering very sophisticated and girly pieces from all over the world, plus cool kid clothes at Black Wagon (3964 N Mississippi), and one for the globetrotting flower-power set at Gypsy Chic (3966 N Mississippi).

The latest to join in the throng is Blue (3753 N Mississippi). Proprietress Sheareen Redlener describes it as a cross between "Target, Urban Outfitters, and a really nice boutique—that's how I shop." That's an apt description of the eclectic store, which evokes skateboarding and metal in its décor and merchandise. Brightly colored fluorescent posters hang on the wall, and bright, flashy, somewhat punk rock jewelry shares space with cool sunglasses, while across the room a bin of wildly colored and patterned wide hairbands and a selection of skate shoes from Vans and Keep hold court (there's a full line of Vans coming soon).

Behind the accessories, the apparel selection is extensive for such a small store, and features a smattering of locals: Hecklewood's brightly screenprinted shirts and sleeveless hoodies; reworked '80s tees by Le Ciel Divine; and pieces from BC Designs and Layers. Representing Toronto is Handcut by Pre-loved, which recycles vintage sweaters into adorable, patch-worked dresses and tops. The store's about 50/50 with men's and women's clothing, with lines like Brown Sound, RVCA, Heavy Rotation, and Obey.

There are also several lines of denim, like Wax and Miss Me Jeans, and a tiny bit of vintage merchandise added to the mix, most notably in the funky heels lined up around the edges of the room. The thriftier among us will be thrilled at Blue's lower price point at a time when high end seems to dominate most new stores' agendas. Here you can snag basic necessities like monochromatic tunics for less than $30, spend $50-90 on a dress, then pick up some funky accessories that catch your eye on the way to the checkout, exiting with money left over for lunch.

Another new store that's not out to bankrupt you is Shoefly (718 NW 11th). Taking over the spacious storefront previously occupied by Odessa (now at 410 SW 13th), this is Shoefly's fourth location, with two in Washington State and one at Bridgeport Village. They have a wide collection for women, and a decent one for men—their first foray into the masculine. Ladies will find Camper, Delman, Cynthia Rowley, Naughty Monkey, Kors by Michael Kors, Bronx, Dolce Vita, Poetic License, BCBG Max Azria, Pink Studio, Biviel, Charles David, Luna Rosa, Sam Edelman, Palladium, Coclico, Gentle Souls, and Cole Haan among others. On the boys' side it's all about Converse by John Varvatos, Hush Puppies, Camper, Frye, Diesel, and more, including my personal favorite, Penguin. They also sell lots of belts and handbags, such as Ananas bags, often made incorporating wood or mother-of-pearl.

In other news, end-of-summer sales are popping up all over, and one you shouldn't miss is at Seaplane (827 NW 23rd), which is taking 15 percent off storewide for the rest of September and into October. That means local labels that you hear so much about are at reduced rates: Look for Emily Ryan, church + state, Linea, Kate Towers, Holly Stalder, and more.

And, if you like a little music and beverage with your shop, check out Lit (214 SW 8th), where Friday and Saturday evenings, from 5-7 pm, there will be DJs (Sugar and Detroit Diesel) and beer and wine to help you pick out what to wear later on that night. Also, Le Train Bleu (1822 NW Overton) will be moving on to a bigger location in the Pearl District this December, which you should keep in mind so you don't wind up with a heart attack when you show up at the front door this winter itching for a Veena or Nicholas K fix and find it gone.

No more skinny jeans: marjorie@portlandmercury.com