New York City Shopping
In NYC’s chic boutiques and department stores, people shop till they drop -- major money. Fifth and Madison avenues are a lanky necklace of stores dripping with pricey goods. This Upper East Side area is also home to a Gucci bag of Italian boutiques. In fact, you’ll be tempted to say “buongiorno” rather than “hey, wassup.”
SoHo, located in an artsy neighborhood near Greenwich Village, is another exorbitantly-priced shopping scene. Shoppers can still find retail therapy in these glam stores; end-of-season clearance sales are typically held in July and December. And several of the bigger stores include restaurants. So if you can’t afford to drape yourself in designer fashions, play pretend and ogle at the baubles, and then giggle while sharing a slice of red velvet cake.
Chanel’s flagship store sits pretty on the Upper East Side’s Madison Avenue and is where you can scoop up the most famous handbag in the world -- the Chanel 2.55 purse. A Chanel boutique also opened in SoHo recently.
More like a museum than a fashion store, the eye candy at Prada isn’t just the clothing; the Broadway at Prince Street store was once a Guggenheim museum. Today, the building’s futuristic design (with a circular glass elevator) is stunning. Boutique Cartier Cartier.com Revered around the globe for selling the crème de la crème of watches and jewelry, Cartier has two stores in NYC -- on Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue. The Fifth Avenue flagship store is wrapped in an enormous red ribbon for the holidays and carries more expensive jewelry than the Madison Avenue store.
The Italian company’s flagship, 4-story NYC store has a cushy Fifth Avenue address where the Gucci shoes are beloved sole mates for discerning shoppers willing to spend. There’s also a smaller Madison Avenue shop. Versace Versace.com Italy meets New York in Versace’s intimate store on Fifth Avenue that drips with marble, Italian-made furniture and glamorous Italian clothing. Ferragamo Ferragamo.com A pair of Ferragamo bow-dressed pumps at this Italian boutique on Fifth Avenue will cost you more than the price of a ticket across the Pond. Fendi Fendi.com Another luxury Italian fashion showcase on Fifth Avenue, Fendi has made several cameos in Sex and the City. Fendi sunglasses and handbags are hugely popular items.
Ralph Lauren Store
Ralph Lauren’s clothing, home and jewelry lines are sold in 2 handsome flagship stores (former mansions) on Madison Avenue -- one for men, another for women.
Bergdorf’s on Fifth Avenue is adored for its high-end designer fashions and bustling, basement-level beauty department. There are also 4 restaurants in this former Vanderbilt mansion.
At upbeat and girly Henri Bendel, spontaneous makeovers are yours for the asking. The cosmetic counters are fun and you can leave looking much different than when you walked in. The Fifth Avenue store has also been selling unique jewelry and accessories in the city for more than 100 years.
Saks Fifth Avenue
This is one of the most visited high-end department stores in town, thanks to its location across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Rockefeller Center (a store cafe overlooks these sites.) Shoppers looking for designer duds have sought out Saks since 1824.
Tiffany & Co.
If you cannot afford a gazillion dollar diamond necklace at Tiffany’s, one of the most expensive jewelry stores on the planet, you can still experience its allure. Rise with the sun, grab a pastry and coffee to eat and admire the Fifth Avenue store’s expansive windows while strolling by (think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.)
New Yorkers have shopped at Bloomie’s on the Upper East Side since the late 1800s when the store opened to much hoopla about its signature item -- the hoop skirt. Bonus: David Burke restaurant.
The Kardashian sisters own this boutique located a mad dash from Chanel in SoHo. It’s a showcase for their slinky Kardashians by bebe line of dresses, as well as designer water and diet pills.
You’ll feel like you’re in an art gallery in this SoHo store. Frequent artist installations are featured, rivaling the store’s pretty selections of wallets and boldly-colored clothing.
Shopping in NYC’s most exclusive stores isn’t about the purchases as much as the thrill. Even window shopping is fun, especially when these stores help provide a festive and glamorous feel to the end-of-year holidays.
Laurie Bain Wilson writes often about New York City and is the author of several travel guidebooks, including New York City Made Easy and New York City with Kids.