You don't need deep pockets to have a marvellously elegant shopping experience in Sydney. You don't even have to spend a dime (except maybe for a wee coffee break at Caffe Dante). Come along to two of my favourite shopping haunts, where you're bound to find master artisans hard at work ever on the ready to make you something heirloom-worthy and fabulous.
The Strand Arcade, established in 1891, is an integral part of Sydney's proud mercantile history and is undoubtedly the CBD's prettiest shopping mall. It should be on your must-see list. Built in the "Victorian" style, it complements the nearby grander Queen Victoria Building (QVB). The arcade is home to some of the arty crowd's stars and upstarts, young craftsmen-entrepreneurs hawking their trade at decidedly non-hawker prices.
I love to just gawk at the latest incarnations of their imaginative minds and to be transported into a world of wonder and fantasy by over the top vintage-Aunt Mamey like get ups at Alannah Hill. Lisa Ho has a store, so does the aspirational bride's bestie, Alex Perry. For now, though, I am deeply in lust with the renderings of Victoria Buckley jewellery, their deep richness Baroque-like. HUSSY on the top floor stocks Wayne Perry – I've bought a couple of dress-me-up frocks there during sales (of course!). Don't forget to also have a gander at Gary Castles – your feet will thank you. The Strand Arcade is accessible via George and Pitt Streets and opens 7 days all year round (except on public holidays) between 9 and 5.30pm and up til 8pm on Thursdays.
The Dymocks Building next door at 428 George Street is a 1930s' building containing a variety of shops and services catering for the bridal trousseau. Marble floors, giant clocks and elegant terrazzo staircases all lend a hand to creating an impression overwhelmingly distinct from the general hustle of modern day George Street.
Many a Sydney bride would've passed through the doors of this heritage listed building to try on that coveted dress at Abbey Bridal or those pumps at Panache Shoes. There are at least two dozen jeweller offering custom-made engagement rings and other bridal baubles. The romantic side of me is inclined towards the gorgeous Irish hand made lace veils at Celtic Design. Makes me want to get married all over again. The Dymocks Building is open for trade 6 days Monday (9 to 5) to Saturday (10 to 4) except on public holidays.