As the population booms on the Northshore, boutiques of all kinds are opening their doors to cater to the growing number of shoppers. Residents of Mandeville, Covington and other St. Tammany towns can find just about everything they want on their side of the Causeway and people who live Uptown, in Metairie or elsewhere on the south shore find it’s definitely worth it to make the easy drive across Lake Pontchartrain for a day of Northshore browsing.

In particular, the Northshore is noted for shops featuring unique clothing, handbags, shoes and accessories that you won’t see in big department stores. And because many of these boutiques are small, you’ll get personal service; owners know their customers and keep their preferences in mind when they go to market.
Here’s a look at what’s on tap for spring at some of the Northshore’s
most popular shops:

Looking NorthAt Ballin’s Ltd. [806 E. Boston St., Covington; (985) 892-0025], store manager Michelle Williams says spring shoes are “the greatest.” Gladiator sandals, metallics and sandals with fashionable heels are ready to show off those pedicures. Straw hats in bright, fun colors like fuchsia, lime, yellow and turquoise will keep the sun off your face and little shift dresses look sharp accessorized with chunky jewelry. Ballin’s will hold a trunk showing of Ronen Chen skirts on April 22 and 23; other favorite lines include Marisa Baratelli, whose
gowns are perfect for mothers of the bride or groom. Ballin’s, located right in the heart of Covington, has its own parking lot and it’s the exclusive Northshore distributor of Mignon Faget jewelry.

Blue Roof Denim’s original location [13406 Seymour Myers Blvd., Covington; (985) 893-800] proved so popular that the shop opened a second [1600 West Causeway Approach, Mandeville; (985) 624-4680]. Most of us have a love-hate relationship with jeans – we wear them everywhere but buying them is no fun. At Blue Roof Denim, you’ll find jeans designed to fit every body, from teens to women in their 70s, including wide-leg and skinny pants and the so-called soccer mom jeans with higher waists. The store also carries dresses, jewelry, tops and menswear, including swim trunks.

Springtime means swim time, and even women past their teens and 20s can find great-looking bathing suits at Bora Bora Swimwear and Resortwear [2 St. Ann Drive, Suite 1, Mandeville; (985) 951-8454]. Whether you want to make a splash in a monokini, tankini, bikini, skirted suit or one-piece, you won’t be disappointed at Bora Bora. Suits range in size up to 24, and up to E in bra size. “Our specialty is fitting people,” says owner Toni Adams Celestin. The shop also carries a huge selection of beautiful cover-ups, sandals, beach bags and hats. This year the word in swimsuit fashion is color and Celestin says Bora Bora is brimming with brights and metallics. The hardest part is picking out just one or two … or maybe three.

Looking NorthFor 75 years, Boudreaux’s Fine Jewelers has delighted New Orleanians and its Northshore shop [4450 Highway 22, Mandeville; (985) 626-1666] carries on the tradition. Brian Boudreaux says the store is ready for those seeking lovely gifts for brides and graduates. Spring brings engagements, too, and Boudreaux’s is noted for its engagement rings. Popular now are antique-looking pieces in white gold and platinum with fancy mountings. The classic baguette and the three-stone ring also remain favorites. For Mother’s Day, the shop has delicate diamond and pearl necklaces, diamond stud earrings and jewelry featuring semiprecious stones. The variety means even those with a slender budget can find something beautiful that will last forever.

Looking NorthBrenchley Shoes and Accessories [2 St. Ann Drive, Suite 3, Mandeville; (985) 727-3131] has been the go-to place for years among Northshore shoppers looking for Donald Pliner, Via Spiga, Badgley Mischka and other upscale labels. For spring, the shop is packed with color – golds, silvers and citrus shades, plus lots and lots of pink. Raffia and grass cloth bags and shoes are embellished with tortoise shell, bamboo and other natural elements. Shoes range from gladiator flats to low wedges to half-inch kitten heels. In jewelry, bamboo and enamel bangle bracelets are hot. Brenchley has carried Elaine Turner bags for so long that it rates private trunk shows; the handbags combine functionality with great looks and have a loyal following.

The 11-store chain of boutiques called Hemline [206 Lake Drive, Suite 3, Covington; (985) 892-9436] which originated in the French Quarter,  is noted for its selection of jeans, including Hudson, 7 For All Mankind and the hard-to-find Freedom of Choice brand. Owner Amanda Gibbs says fitted and structured clothes are growing in popularity for spring as people begin phasing out the long-popular baby-doll tops and dresses. The store has just begun carrying tank tops. In for spring are skirts, tops and dresses by Tibi that include embroidered pieces and lots of prints and color. Gibbs says “in” colors this season include green and purple. Hemline also carries shoes and accessories.

Looking NorthLook for the latest at James Napier [1357 North Causeway Blvd., Mandeville; (985) 951-8015], which sells stylish men’s and women’s shoes and accessories. The shop is filled with strappy heels and sandals, peep toes, flats in golds and metallics in patent leather as well as python, alligator, stingray and other exotics. Prints and patterns are abundant. Bangles and cuff bracelets are spring necessities, as well as big, chunky rock and crystal necklaces. Napier says both petites and plus sizes can wear the prints and chunky jewelry so popular this year as long as they keep the pieces in proportion to their size.

One of the prettiest shops in Covington is Laurier [218 Lee Lane; (985) 875-0823].
For spring, Laurier is carrying lots and lots of dresses – shifts, baby-dolls and other styles, mostly short. Prints and embroidered fabrics are prevalent. Laurier is a popular stop for those seeking dressy looks for weddings and other special occasions but you’ll also find casual items here as well as jewelry and other

For three years, London Hill [820 E. Boston St., Covington; (985) 892-3677] has attracted a strong following, carrying trendy looks appropriate for all ages. Dresses are big here, too, for spring – prints, colors, one-shoulder looks, all very
feminine, most in shorter lengths. Flowing fabrics like chiffon, silk and charmeuse are ideal for spring and summer’s warm weather. Check out the handbags in yellow, red and other brights and the strappy, high-heeled sandals. London Hill also carries jewelry and accessories.

Nothing says summer in New Orleans like a cool, blue-and-white seersucker suit and the Northshore location of Perlis [1281 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville; (985) 674-1711] is the perfect place to find clothing made of cotton, cotton blends
and linen for both men and women. People from all over the South look to Perlis for these traditional hot-weather favorites because the store buys them from a variety of manufacturers, in a wide array of price points and sizes. Color continues to be
popular; look for sportswear in pink, fuchsia, apple green and light blues. And when you buy well made, classically tailored clothing at Perlis, you can be sure
it will be in style for years to come.

Fashion magazines are filled with great-looking trench coats for spring. Worn with jeans or dresses, they are a high-fashion must this season, and Re’ Elle [1357 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville; (985) 626-7888] has plenty of them. The shop carries such popular brands as Juicy, Kate Spade and Trina Turk and it’s packed with spring and summer dresses in florals and bright colors. There’s a style for everyone, whether you look best in short or long, sleeveless or more covered-up. Speaking of cover-ups, the store has swimsuits and covers as well as sunglasses and other accessories. No wonder it’s been a Northshore favorite for more than 12 years.

Sometimes the occasion calls for a splurge. If your spring wardrobe needs an upper-end designer boost, visit T. [736 E. Boston St., Covington; (985) 867-5299]. The boutique carries such fashion-forward jeans as True Religion, 7 For All Mankind and Rag & Bone as well as shorts, Capri pants and other sportswear plus dresses for just about every occasion. For spring, look for lots of navy and white and florals. T. specializes in classic looks for discriminating buyers, whether they are 16 or 65. Especially elegant is the shop’s Devon Page McCleary jewelry.