Its more than easy to become overwhelmed in large urban shopping areas. In Canada we're addicted to malls, likely because we live most of our year at the mercy of winter. In a few of our warmer cities we stroll streets such as Younge or Robson for the next trend in fashion. The possibilities are endless as to what you can find, which is exactly the problem. Big city shopping is great if you can negotiate your way through the crowds, confidently pick your pieces out of the trillions of choices, and if you're still in love with your first impulse purchase by the time you get to the end of the parade of retail stores then you're a better shopaholic than I. Sure, big cities have little niche boutiques, we've all heard about them through a friend of a friend. No one ever bothers to give directions to these super chic hideaways. Alas, the urban boutique remains to most, nothing more than an urban myth.

Kamloops is the answer to 'Big Style in the Little City'. First, the city enjoys favorable strolling conditions year round. Low amounts of year round precipitation are perfect for protecting your latest footwear fetish, it also doesn't hurt that shopping, accommodations, spa, dining, and nightlife all fall within a very small downtown quadrant. Second, MILD WINTERS. Don't let Vancouverites tell you any differently, they're just bitter that our summers are far better than a coastal summer and they're attempting to halt a population shift to the interior. Climate conditions contribute to dressing for the occasion; this fall and winter we've spotted plenty of tall boots, ankle boots with wedge heels, and lots and lots of cape coats. Its very common to see groups of well dressed men and women cruising Victoria Street; in the daytime with friends and small puppies, perhaps lunching at popular spots such as Terra or The Noble Pig, or taking in a speciality coffee or dessert at Blenz or Swiss Pastries. Think of socializing in Downtown Kamloops as socializing in a 'northern' Scottsdale or West Hollywood, its just that chic. During the evening hours you'll find beautiful settings and beautiful people at favorite dining locales such as Felix on Fourth, The Brownstone, or The Commodore. The Commodore doubles as live music and a resto-bar, staying open late for cocktails and mingling. Other late evening favorites are the rooftop patio at Carlos O”Briens (weather permitting of course), and Rivers Nightclub or Cactus Jacks Saloon. The most important factor in picking Kamloops as your style headquarters is of course the shopping. Getting away from the hustle of retail meccas; Downtown Kamloops offers all boutique shopping. The beauty of the boutique is that all of the guess work has been done for you. Talented buyers like Anthony from Jardines Domaine or Connie from Main Street Clothing have travelled extensively to view collections by countless brands, picked only the most stylish pieces, and brought them back to Kamloops. This is a secret most locals would prefer to keep to themselves, we wouldn't want to create a shortage if word was to get out. Domaine carries the best from fashion lines like- Michael Kors, Paige Denim, Mexx, Billabong, Dex, Gentle Fawn, Hunter, UGG, Mia, the list could go on forever. The staff is impeccably dressed, friendly and knowledgeable, always offering advice on the next big thing. Main Street Clothing is a great source for high end denim (amongst other great items). Its actually happened that I've dreamed about a pair of jeans worn by Kristin Cavallari, the next day I walked into Main Street Clothing and I bought them (in case you are wondering the brand was AG). Also wonderful staff, the mother/daughter style duo that run this boutique are fabulous, friendly and always fashionable.

Finally, if you're really serious about taking in all that Kamloops has to offer you will leave time in your busy day of shopping, dining, and socializing for a little relaxation; the best remedy, a blow dry at the new blow dry bar located in Beauty Code Boutique, or a mani/pedi at Ardeo Spa. While at Beauty Code check out their fabulous selection of cosmetics, ask Cass for tips on application, she's Kamloops best kept secret having received her Make Up Education in West Hollywood and working in Vancouver, she IS the “Big City Style in the Little City”. Ardeo also offers spa services, set in a tranquil and modern environment, consider this the perfect escape to prepare you for a busy night out. Downtown Kamloops has many more stylish secrets, boutiques, consignment, dining, four star accommodations, the possibilities are endless. My best advice is that if you are really looking for big style, or a fabulous weekend away, everything you need is available and easily accessible in Kamloops.

- Elisabeth Bass

Follow Elisabeth on Twitter @elisabethbass