Miss Katie Cupcake - 52 Cockburn Street
This is probably my favourite store in Edinburgh. It's teeny tiny - like a walk-in wardrobe - and absolutely jam packed with cute jewelery (think miniature tea cup and sugar pot earrings), frames and accessories, art prints and all kinds of other pretty things. It's worth visiting just to admire how beautifully everything is laid out alone. It's like a magpie's nest full of beautiful shiny things.
Armstrongs - 81-83 Grassmarket (branches at 64-66 Clerk Street and 14 Teviot Place)
Armstrongs is the largest and probably best known of Edinburgh's vintage clothes shops. Their main store is in the heart of the Grassmarket but they have two other stores dotted arond the outskirts of the city centre which unfortunately I never visited but I heard have better stock as they get less traffic. Armstrongs in the Grassmarket is pretty cool though and definitely worth checking out. The prices run the gauntlet from very good value to a little on the crazier side but generally for the more elaborate vintage pieces. If you're looking for everyday vintage wear though they have a good range. And there's as much to distract above eyelevel as on the rails themselves - the high ceilings are home to lots of swooping figures, frill-tastic dresses and beautiful parasols.
Context Interiors - 40 Victoria Street
This is a really lovely interiors shop with some unusual finds. They have quirky cards and prints, old maps, mobiles, off beat furniture, phrenology heads and more. It's particularly good for finding gifts for guys and it's been my first port of call for pressies for my husband over the last few years.
The Red Door Gallery - 42 Victoria Street
The bread and butter of this shop is their beautiful art prints but they also have lots of gorgeous jewellery, cards and cute knick knacks. It's also in the Grassmarket and next to Context Interiors so on most Edinburgh visitors' routes. They have lots of Edinburgh prints too if you're looking for a more unique souvenir of the city.
Godiva Boutique - 9 West Port
Another huge favourite and regular haunt when I lived in Edinburgh, Godiva is divided into new clothes at the front of the store, including local designers and other independent labels, and handpicked vintage beauties in the back. There are also some cute jewellery and other accessories thrown in for good measure. It's at the end of the Grassmarket - just 5 minutes past Armstrongs.
Studio One - 10 Stafford Street
This basement shop has beautiful and original homeware and gifts plus lots of beautiful retro-inspired toys.
Anthropologie - 39-41 George Street
Not exactly an independent shop I know! But it's one of my favourite chains and Edinburgh lays claim to one of the few branches in the UK so I'm just giving you the heads up. I love all their homeware even if my bank balance doesn't. Over two years ago when I took the train to Edinburgh for the interview for my job I stumbled across this store for the first time. I was so broke at the time but felt the interview had gone well so I celebrated by buying a mug - madness I know - and so an obsession was born.
Unicorn Antiques - 65 Dundas Street
This is my favourite antiques store in Edinburgh. It's maybe a ten-minute walk from Princes Street (the main shopping thoroughfare) and tucked away in a two-storey basement. The upper floor is crammed with smaller antique goodies but beware of any sudden movements or swinging handbags as everything is jammed in and teetering on the edges of shelves. The bottom floor has larger antique pieces and furniture and is definitely worth a look. There's so much to see here but with a bit of patience you'll inevitably spot loads of gems.
Hannah Zakari - 43 Candlemaker Row
Back in the Grassmarket on the other side of the city, Hannah Zakari is a slightly more spacious shop if the likes of Unicorn Antiques has left you feeling a little clausterphobic. This independent store features jewellery, cards and prints by local designers.
Herman Brown - 151 West Port
Another good spot for vintage clothes - and just a little further on again from Armstrongs and Godiva. It's well organised and the quality of the clothes is good. Admittedly I never came away with anything myself but it's definitely worth a browse.
The Frayed Hem - 45 Cockburn Street
And the last but not least of my Edinburgh vintage picks. Another nicely presented store with varied but good quality stock and some cute accessories too. My pet peeve with vintage stores is when the rails are so crammed you can barely pry the clothes apart - which thankfully isn't the case here. My husband also liked their range of men's tweed jackets! And they have a good selection of handbags, scarves and other accessories too.
These are just a few of the mainly independent stores I loved to visit and that I miss a lot now that I'm living back in Ireland again. If anyone has any more to add to the list please do - I'm hoping to pop back for a visit in August and am looking forward to revisiting my old haunts.
I still have some sightseeing recommendations to round up by Edinburgh guide so stay tuned in the next week or so - pending the arrival of my by now tardy baby (I'm 3 days overdue but have a feeling this baby isn't in any great hurry!).