Our Top Shopify Theme Choices

If you want your e-commerce store to succeed, it has to give your customers what they're looking for. Your website has to work.

And how do you do that?

By choosing the right Shopify theme for your store, of course!

Today we're diving into the top three themes we recommend to our clients here at Hot Mess and why we love them. This will help if you’re considering starting a store, but also if you're at a point in your business where you’re ready to level up: you're bringing in a decent amount of traffic and revenue already and you're looking to increase your conversion rate, then you want to be a little bit more strategic when you're picking your theme, because there is a lot to it!

So whether you’re just getting started with Shopify or already know your way around, first let’s look at some top tips for picking a theme. 

#1 Look beyond the surface

Look beyond the images and branding on the demo site. When you're pulling up these demo sites, they all look lovely, but you have to look past it - because those images and graphics and even the fonts don’t come with the theme.

And they also don't properly represent the ins and outs of that theme, because those same images and graphics can be used on anything. You need to be able to visualize your branding, not get caught up on the demo site.

The starting point is that you MUST make sure that you are super clear on what your must-haves are - what you want your website to be able to do in terms of functionality. Getting this straight is fundamental.

#2 Know Your Site Layout

What you need to really assess in a theme is the layout. When you download the theme, there are no images, no text, no fonts - it's completely empty. What you’re seeing in the demo site are just presets so you need to imagine this theme with your own branding and your own site layout.

So dig into the demo and go over the features and all the little nooks and crannies. You can start with the layout of the homepage, the aesthetic of header and footer, menu options, logo placement, sidebar options, and any built in pop-ups.

Check out the product pages and collections page, and any other special features that are built in. Is there a carousel? How do the buttons and icons look, how the cart looks, storefront widget, how the search bar looks and functions. Ideally, make a checklist of the KEY FEATURES that you need for your site to serve your customers.

Remember that the demo page may or may not be utilising all the features of the theme, but the message here is just look at every nook and cranny, and know what you need your site to be able to do.

#3 Check on Mobile

ALWAYS check how the theme looks on mobile.

There is often a button to view on mobile. Make sure that you love how it looks and feels on mobile, as well as desktop, and remember that on mobile is even more important - this is how most people will be looking at your store.

#4 Finding the Perfect Theme

Sketch out your unicorn theme🦄 with all the features that you could possibly want, and then use that list to compare it back to the themes when you're looking at the demos again.

Look for your required features, and again, remember to not get hung up on the branding on the demo sites, because most of the look and the feel can actually be customized through design. So seek all the nooks and crannies and peer right into them! 


Examine all the menus and tabs and sections and blocks to know exactly what you’re signing up for. We always say you're never gonna find a theme that's drop dead perfect for you, but this is about figuring out what's going to be the best starting point and then building upon it from there.

And then you code the rest, or bring in a coding developer (which, PS, is also part of our design services!)

#5 Work with well-established theme developers only

Whatever theme you choose, you should always make sure that the theme developer is well established and trustworthy. This is important for the times when code breaks or updates are required. Sometimes, choosing the more cost efficient option can cost you hundreds, or even thousands, down the line.

Our brand developer besties: 

Out of The Sandbox 


Our Top Shopify Theme Choices

Choosing a theme is a personal choice, based on preferences and budget. Below are a few more themes we have worked with and recommend.


Stiletto is hands down our favorite theme! It really ticks all the boxes and is the most versatile theme we have worked with so far. The design capabilities are great - especially considering that website aesthetics are an important competitive differentiator in the saturated boutique industry. 

This theme is optimized for growth with just about everything you could ask for!

Below is a list a few of the features that Stilleto offers:

  • Clean and modern design
  • Responsive layout for optimal viewing on various devices
  • Large product imagery for showcasing fashion products
  • Product zoom functionality for a detailed view, Collection filtering by tags and categories
  • Sidebar menu for easy navigation
  • Customizable homepage sections for featured products, promotions, and blog posts
  • Instagram feed integration for displaying social media content
  • Newsletter signup form for capturing customer emails
  • Integrated product reviews for social proof Related products feature to encourage upselling
  • Quick view option for a seamless browsing experience
  • Wishlist functionality for customers to save their favorite items
  • Blogging capabilities for content marketing
  • Customizable color schemes and typography options
  • Support for multi-level menus
  • SEO-friendly structure to improve search engine visibility
  • Support for Shopify's payment and shipping options
  • Integration with Shopify apps to enhance functionality
  • Excellent theme support from developers


Impulse is a good option for high volume stores that process a large number of orders. It's ideal for B+M stores that do inperson selling and supports visual brand storytelling. 

Below is a list a few of the features that Impulse offers:

  • The header is very customizable
  • You can have a sticky header option
  • Menu can be split, centered, left, below the logo, or even drawer style
  • Mega Menus - so good for customer experience
  • This theme supports using photos themselves if a minimalist look is desired
  • Homepage photos or graphics can be manipulated for width and height
  • Parallax enabled
  • Clean, modern aesthetic
  • Optimized for mobile
  • Built in popup
  • Robust filter and sort options on the collection pages.
  • Ability to include promotional content on collection pages. 
  • Tab options on collection pages
  • Subcollection listing option on collection pages
  • Built-in recommended products and reviews
  • Pickup availability on the product pages


If you need something budget-friendly or you're not ready to invest yet, Dawn is a very basic free theme that works. It’s limited! And every free theme has its quirks - that’s all free themes.

A free theme should generally be a stepping stone as you grow your biz.

These are some of the feature's you'll find with Dawn: 

  • Size chart
  • Recommended products
  • Enhanced search
  • Mega menu
  • Product filtering and sorting
  • Recommended products
  • Sticky header


Remember that when you’re picking a theme, it really does depend on your store and what your customers need. So definitely make that wish list of features that you want or need and find a theme that ticks the most boxes. After that, you can add some coding to customize your store further.

It’s worth saying here that your website really should always be a constant work in progress. It’s something you always want to be working on and improving, especially for the user experience and improving your conversion rates.

So, hopefully this has helped you navigate around themes a bit better, but as always, if you've got more questions or need some help, reach out - we're here for you!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.



We don't bite. And we don't hard-sell you on our services. We only want to help if we are what your business really needs right now. OR we are happy to give you some tips and resources.

Ok, Let's Book the Call.