By Claudie Benjamin

The Upper West Side isn’t about wearing 5“ red heels, according to Shi Shi boutique owner Yael Levertov. She’s worked in SoHo and other neighborhoods where that look is more likely. But, enthusiastically ensconced at her West Side shop at 2488 Broadway for the past dozen years and going strong, Yael knows her customers by name and understands their interest in wearing classy styles that are not priced out of sight, fit well, and offer a bit of originality.

Yael counts on Ori, her husband, for his insightful suggestions and enthusiastic administrative support. The couple, parents of a young daughter, are Israelis who have lived on the Upper West Side for a long time. “We are really a Mom & Pop shop,” she says.

Yael opened her own boutique after having worked in retail sales, managing, and buying. She was not interested in convincing a customer that a $300 blouse was worth it. Rather, she challenged herself with finding designers who made affordable stylish clothes, shoes, and jewelry. And, significantly, she keeps only one or two of each style on hand. This encourages customers to stop by often to find something new. Also, explaining this approach to marketing, she does not want “everyone on the Upper West Side to find they are wearing the same jumpsuit or spring kimono wrap dress.

This is a place where customers feel they alone have snagged an appealing little slip dress or another very wearable find at a good price – one that will elicit “Where did you get that wonderful…?”


Check out Shi Shi’s social media.  On Instagram, you’ll find enticing videos that give you the vibe of this shop that draws customers in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

Yael also maintains Lola + Kenni, her own private label. These garments aren’t designed from scratch. Yael explains she works with garment-making factories on designs they already have and adapts them to her specifications. This works well, especially in terms of keeping prices manageable. Ready for spring are kimono influenced styles and maxi dresses using fabrics with Japanese and African-inspired prints. Thinking about wearability beyond one season, Yael is very enthusiastic about transitional styles and sustainable fabrics that can be worn through multiple seasons.

With the pervasiveness of online shopping, Yael counters the trend by identifying clothing that sells better in person. More specifically, this means, for example, denim. “They say to have a glass of wine before trying on jeans,” Yael says explaining that “you can’t really know how a pair of jeans purchased online will fit when you try them on. You may need to buy seven sizes in seven styles.” Same goes for the feel of the denim fabric which may vary widely from one company to another. Even among jeans offered by the same company “the same style and size in blue may fit differently in black because of the way the dye has been absorbed into the material making it a tighter and slightly smaller.

A big draw to Shi Shi Boutique are clothing lines, some with bohemian flair from Spain, Portugal, and Italy and accessories including jewelry from Brazil, Israel, and Asia. These decorative pieces of jewelry may be subtle or bold but always original and notice-worthy.

When you see something you like at this shop, snap it up, Yael advises. Because of the limited inventory, coming back a few days later hoping to find an item is still there is risky. “If you snooze you loose,” she says.

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