This month’s style city feature was written by my stylish sister Noreen (pictured above). She’s lived in NYC, Sydney and Thailand so we hope to convince her to give us an insider’s guide to shopping and style for future Style City features on whatshewears.ie. Previous cities covered are Belfast and Barcelona.
For eating and drinking in NYC I recommend the West Village. I used to live on Perry Street in the West Village where there are some really cool shops around Bleecker Street. The fab Marc Jacobs store on the corner of Bleecker and Perry Street tempted me every time I walked home.
If you can’t buy anything chez Marc, comfort yourself with a cup cake in The Magnolia Bakery (as featured in SATC) 401 Bleecker Street . It’s just a short taxi ride from the West Village to Soho for shopping and the Meatpacking District for late night entertainment.
Second hand designer stores
I love browsing second hand designer stores like INA. New York Magazine described INA as “The trendiest pickings from American and European runways — mixed in with rather chic no-name clothes”. INA, 15 Bleecker Street.
You can come across some stellar finds for a snippet like my Karl Lagerfeld riding jacket , which felt like it was hand made for me. Sadly, it was stolen from me in a Dublin nightclub by someone who knew a good thing when they saw it!
Shopping in New York
The best district for shopping in New York is SOHO (short for “South of Houston) in downtown Manhattan. Between the many cobble stoned streets between West Broadway and Broadway you will find a great mix of shops.
This includes the bijoux Bloomingdales if you can’t face the much larger one on 59th Street. All tourists who show their passport in the visitors centre in Bloomingdales get 11% off all goods (with the exception of some cosmetics) even on sale items. So it is worth queuing up before hitting the clothing rails.
The flagship Apple store is located on 5th Avenue in a coverted post office building where you can spend hours just browsing and looking at the test gadgets. Apple, Prince Street, New York.
Need a party dress or ball gown?
BCBG Max Azria is my favourite haunt if I am in need of a dress or ball gown. Their silk cashmere cardigan wraps are the best I have found around. Other recommended shops in Soho are Betsy Johnson, Adidas and other small designers dotted around the place like Catherine Maladrino.
If want to venture to the very busy Broadway district you will find Victorias Secret for underwear, Sephora (which is always great for makeup supplies), Banana Republic, Kenneth Cole, Armani Exchange and some fantastic shoe shops like Steve Madden. It’s a really busy area but a good option if you only have an afternoon to hit all the main shops and pick up some bargains.
If however you like browsing and want to avoid the annoying sales assistants (who have become even more persistent since the recession has hit… they really do care ‘how you are today’!) at the weekend you will find street vendors along Prince Street selling fabulous, genuine jewellery.
Just last week I bought some statement earrings and necklaces with semi precious stones which, in total cost me €200. They would’ve cost me triple that in a retail outlet. Be prepared to bargain though.
Outlet shopping in New York
This would be shopping hell for me but if you insist on outlet shopping, go to Woodbury Common which is the most popular outlet and is located an hour away from NYC – the bus leaves from Port Authority and goes on the hour.
If you want to stay put in New York for outlet shopping and have nerves of steel, head to Century 21 down at the World Trade Centre (Cortlandt Street). My advice is to get in and out early otherwise you’ll need an oxygen mask!
I just tend to head to the sports section of Century 21 on the 1st floor – I can’t get enough sports socks, hats/gloves and magnificent scarves. I bought two Pucci scarves there last week reduced from €300 each to €99 each! This type of stuff doesn’t require trying on nor standing for hours ‘in line’.
Hotels in New York City
Check hotels.com for the many deals on hotels in New York City to be had at the moment. I suggest that you stay downtown in Soho and not have to traipse around in cabs.
60 Thomson, The Mercer Hotel and Soho Grand are three hotel suggestions. My motto is to stay somewhere that has a great vibe, people and a nice bar, so if you’re too tired to go out (you will be after all that shopping) let the party come to the hotel!
On my last trip I stayed at the Hudson Hotel, 356 West 58th Street, near Columbus Circle subway (near Central park and Theatre district). This Phillipe Starck designed hotel with a great roof garden is well located for shopping. The hotel had its heyday a few years ago but the once expensive room rates have now become more accessible price-wise.
New York Restaurants
If you fancy a quick bite while shopping in West Broadway head to Dos Caminos on West Broadway. This is an upscale Mexican restaurant that serves the most unbelievable guacamole which is served in a cauldron style stone bowl . It’s a great place for lunch between shops or early evening when the legs get tired after shopping, why not pop in for margaritas and guacamole.
Pastis 9 Ninth Avenue, New York
Brunch in the Meatpacking District is the ‘in scene’ thing to do, so if you’re in town for a few days, treat yourself to brunch at Pastis. I recommend their great burgers and fries. The bar area is always good for a celeb viewing, lots of hustle and bustle, surrounded by old French décor.
Bono is said to be an investor in The Spotted Pig which is New York’s first authentic English style gastro-pub. Also, considering that Sarah Jessica Parker and Liv Tyler live around the corner in the West Village, you are bound to spot a celebrity here on the weekends. Chef April Bloomfield, formerly of London’s River Café, ensures this cosy wood-floor tavern in the West Village is always packed.
If you feel The Spotted Pig is too crowded there’s always the down-home White Horse Tavern pub nearby on Hudson Street. This is a great spot in the Summer – sit outside on the benches and watch the world walk by.
If want to feel like at home and mix with some of the locals (SJP lives around the corner) head to Extra Virgin. Great food and a particular favourite of mine for its decor with its exposed brick walls, it reminds me of my old apartment in NYC. Make sure to call ahead to reserve as queues of locals can be long.
My favorite bars in New York
Employees Only 510 Hudson St between Christopher and W. 10th Street. This is a cosy new West Village spot where the staff wear chef smocks with quirky titles like Principal Bartender.
After shopping and before heading back to your hotel head to Felix on 340 West Broadway – this is a mix of Eurobrats and locals who stand on the street and drink Peroni beer to the sound of Latin music.
Head on to Novevcento which is a chaotic, casual, and exhilarating Argentinian restaurant which has a crazy party vibe after 11pm. I had my birthday there a few years ago with blurred memories from too many mojitos, so feel I need to visit each time I go back to jog my memory!
New York City Guidebooks
If in doubt about where to shop or eat, I recommend buying a Zagat’s guide–it has all the street addresses and phone numbers and can be bought in most good newsagents.
Or just buy the latest Time Out magazine for New York – for the very latest and happening places to go, it will also have the update on designer sales for that week so it’s not to be missed!