Chocolate & Spice

chocolate, spice and the other pleasures in life

Friday, October 20, 2006

New York # 4 - Shopping the New York way

A visit to New York wouldn't be complete without visiting their legendary temples of goods – Barneys and Bloomingdales. Having spent nearly all my money at Woodbury Common on Kate Spade bags, shoes and Le Creuset pots, I decided to steer clear of both these one-stop shops (save for a quick dash to Barneys to buy some insanely expensive skincare by Dr Sebagh, reputed to be THE cosmetic surgeon to go to for his face creams for a friend) and stick to downtown discount marts.

Century 21 is another legend in New York shopping, as are Filene's Basement and Loehrmanns. Having heard so much about it from these US magazines (Glamour, Lucky and the likes) and from friends, we were looking forward to checking it out. For all of you out there used to shopping in pristine, organised shopping centres, visiting any of these 3 outlets would give you immediate cause for a migraine. I'm not one to pass up a bargain but I do draw the line at rooting through musty, dusty and ugly clothes!

The scary escalators at Century 21 which look like they would eat your feet

Our first visit to Century 21 was on a wet Thursday afternoon (it seemed the perfect day to stay indoors) and perhaps the dreary weather contributed to our grumpy mood when we spent 2 hours digging through the racks to emerge only with undies and socks. Sure, we had a good laugh at this green velvet suit in the men's "Designer Suit" department (surely this is a relict from the 70s that got mixed up with the normal stuff). But we were sorely disappointed at the offerings, given the hype about this discount outlet (from editors at fashion magazines to friends who said it was worth checking out). Then we spoke to a New Yorker we met who told us that new stuff comes in every Tuesday, which was when she would religiously go down on her lunch break to check out. So we thought we'd give it another chance, especially when A's colleague, Tim, said he managed to dig out Todds loafers and a Ferragamo tie.

We trooped back the following Wednesday during A's lunch break with some of his colleagues (similarly determined to dig out more bargains). A was quite determined to dig up the Todds loafers he had seen the previous week but I wasn't so optimistic that it'd still be there. Nevertheless, we focused our search on the men's shoe department and lo and behold, we didn't find the Todds shoes (surprise surprise!!) but spied a lovely casual pair of soft leather Via Spiga loafers (much better than Todds in my opinion) and a great pair of Via Spiga black leather dress shoes. We got all excited about both pairs and were about to pay for them when disaster struck – someone had stupidly stuck the sensor tag on the black leather shoes the reverse way around which meant that it would be near to impossible to remove without spoiling the leather. We had to leave that pair behind. By this time, we were slightly put out by the unhelpful staff with their "it's not my business/take it or leave it" attitude.

After lunch, it was my turn in the lady's lingerie section – I spotted a Lejaby bra in a particular design I had been eyeing a year ago from Chalone but had not bought as it was a little pricey at S$159 then. Imagine my delight to find the last one on the shelf in my size and at a bargain price of US$9.90!! I also found Cosabella thongs in rainbow shades of watermelon, red and chartreuse green at heavily discounted prices too. The downside was not being able to try the bras but if you know your size well enough, or like me, had tried that particular design before, you would probably be able to find some bargains. Nothing quite like new lingerie to make a girl smile…..

My other visits to Loehrmann's and Filene's Basement turned out a very nice Ermenegildo Zegna tie and black Kenneth Cole cufflinks for A and a sleek black Kenneth Cole leather wallet for my cousin, M. All at very affordable prices, especially the Zegna tie.

I guess the moral of the story is to find the bargains, be patient and be prepared to dig. Oh and go on Tuesdays for the greatest selections!

Century 21
22 Cortlandt Street
Tel: (212) 227 9092

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