In this new feature, we ask a Charlotte tastemaker to share his or her best-loved vendors, restaurants, getaways and other other can’t-live-without-it obsessions. This month, we feature Whitley Adkins Hamlin of the Queen City Style, a wardrobe stylist and personal shopper and a regular contributor to SouthPark magazine.
“I love nostalgia and anything that triggers a happy memory or creates a happy feeling. While this city continues to grow and become more exciting every day, these things are a nod to some of my favorite Charlotte feels, then and now.”
Place to stop and stare: I call on the fellas at Taylor, Richards & Conger (pictured above) for almost all things related to men’s fashion and style. If you’ve been there, you know. They’re totally dialed in — not just the haberdashery‚ but the whole package: clothes, accoutrements, charm, know-how, style and grace. 6907 Phillips Place Court
Hair did: I’ve been going to Aurora Casteen at Borealis Salon as long as I’ve been in Charlotte, 18 years. At this point, she’s more like a sister than a therapist. She’s got that whole cool, under-the-radar thing going on. 1317 Berkeley Avenue
Place to grab a beer: Long before Michael Brawley installed a taproom in 2014, Brawley’s Beverage was the place to get good craft beer by the bottle — and way back in the day, kegs for those wild weekend parties. Like an old classic home in one of Charlotte’s great neighborhoods, this is one of those old-school places that has undergone exciting change all while maintaining its overall cool integrity. 4620 Park Road
Portrait photographer: There is so much talent in this city, and I am lucky to have worked with a lot of them. But if I had to pick one, it would be Richard Israel. I’m not even sure I recognize myself when I look at the pictures he has taken of me, but thanks to Richard (and makeup artist Cali Stott) I feel pretty when I do. Artistic talent and style like no other and most of all, a gem of a human being and the most fun! richardisrael.com
Intimate meal: After ten years as executive chef for the Conte Restaurant Group (spots include Toscana and Luce), Gabriele Grigolon opened Aqua e Vino, an intimate, cozy, romantic space in Strawberry Hill. The island in the middle of this tiny restaurant used for slicing fresh meats and cheese gives you the feel you are right in Chef Grigo’s kitchen. I have never been to Italy, but if this is what it feels like to be welcomed into someone’s home for a magnificent feast, I’d like to have my own cot and pillow in the back. 4219 Providence Road
Weekend cocktail spot: My parent’s house in Myers Park — mainly because this means I am getting some much appreciated help with my two wild boys (Hank, 11, and Worth, 8), and a little TLC. My stepfather knows my love language on a Friday night — he makes me the best dirty martini in the city, right when I walk through the door.
Summertime family fun: Growing up in Asheville, I went to Sliding Rock in Pisgah National Forest often with my family and later with friends once we learned to drive. I took my boys last summer for the first time, and it was just as much fun now as it was then. After you slide, stop at Dolly’s Dairy Bar for ice cream. Rent a house in Brevard and enjoy the shops and restaurants in the cozy downtown. Super fun for all.
Run: It gets super hot running the roads of Charlotte in the summer, so this is my favorite time of year to hit the 13-mile Back Yard Trail in the deep-canopied woods across from the Marion Diehl Recreation Center near SouthPark. Maintained by the Tarheel TrailBlazers, a local mountain-bike club, the trails are woodsy and technical, with several black diamond routes. Expect to get lost your first few times running … which is actually kinda fun. TarheelTrailBlazers.com