Tuesday, 23 March 2010

One day New York Shopping Experience

As I was just downloading today's outfit pictures onto the computer, I had one of those "what on earth are you wearing?" moments - you know, when you end up looking totally different in the picture as opposed to what you thought you saw in the mirror? Oh well! Moving on, to the title of this post! I spent last Thursday in New York City, and wow, let me tell you: one hectic day in a big city takes a toll on you, not to mention when you spend the entire day browsing through the countless shopping options.

My friend Heidi, her boyfriend Tommi and myself didn't have a specific plan; all we knew was that we wanted to spend time together and go shopping. I had visited NYC twice before, but the first time was close to seven years ago and the second when I first met Chris in person. Neither of those trips was really about shopping at all. Really, I don't know NYC, not for one bit. We decided to stop by at Century 21, the huge designer outlet store, and afterwards we just played it by ear, and ended up in Soho. In other words, we didn't even try to look for secluded boutiques or vintage stores - we only had about 8 hours to kill, and our budgets were limited anyway.

I had been to Century 21 before, but I did not remember how crazy the place was, or perhaps there weren't too many people there the previous time. Dozens and dozens of people were running around like headless chickens, browsing aggressively through stuff, pushing and shouting out random designer names to each other in the hopes of scoring something special. It really was a scary experience. I felt like the place was so chaotic that I couldn't even stop to really look at anything. I tried on a beautiful pair of Dries Van Noten shoes, but the store was way too busy for me to even sit down and think if I really wanted them. There was also a gorgeous Kate Spade straw handbag, which I also left behind, just because I couldn't deal with the buzz around me. I left the store empty-handed, while Heidi bought a black parka and some kids' clothes for her niece.

Needless to say, Soho was busy too. I have worked in clothing retail before, and I have no idea how people do it in NYC. There are just so many people. I am sure there is a huge amount of wonderful little stores tucked away in small streets, but with our limited time and knowledge, we stuck to the main streets and browsed through your usual Urban Outfitters, Uniqlos, Topshops, Aldos, Victoria's Secrets and the likes. There were so many clothes in every store that I felt dizzy. There were pretty clothes and nice clothes, awful ones and not-so-awful ones. I just didn't find anything worth while. If I found something nice, I couldn't help but think that I could find something way more unique on Etsy or Salvation Army for 1/10 of the price. I realised that I have truly become a thrifter. Ready-made clothes just don't appeal to me the way they used to, and everything seemed awfully expensive. The only pieces worth considering were all shoes, and I came home with three pairs, all flats (!):

I had been looking for black-and-white shoes for a while, so I decided to go for these ones at Steve Madden. The beige straw brogues are also from Steve Madden, although I accidentally named them to be from Office in my previous post.

Now these velvet ballet flats are from Office.

And that's it, folks. Of course, the best thing about the day-trip was seeing Heidi. She is one of my best friends and I love her dearly. Since Homeland Security is not letting me leave the country, being able to hang out with her was everything I could have hoped for. Next time I go shopping in NYC I intend to do some research before, and not even bother with the usual high-street stuff, unless there is something particular I want to find there.

Blue print top: Sears
Cardigan: second hand / Salvation Army
Shorts: Object / Only
Tights: Sears
Shoes: Converse


Sal said...

Century 21 is ridiculous, isn't it? I feel like it just gets more so with each passing year, too ... glad you grabbed those amazing velvet flats, though. WOW, they're gorgeous!

And I'm drooling over your shorts, too. Love the belt.

jesse.anne.o said...

I love the black/white and white shoes, especially.

I work near 34th/Broadway and every once in a while I'll pop into H&M if I need something specific (black canvas oxfords, plain black scarf, acrylic cardigans, etc) and I have to really brace myself.

The issue with buying vintage here is that all the good, well-curated stuff is so expensive in Manhattan - but then places like No Relation or the Rags a Go Go are better priced but essentially like a Salvation Army to sort through (but yet still not priced like a thrift store). I have better luck with Brooklyn's Beacon's Closet or Buffalo Exchange overall. On weekends they're usually crowded but not nearly as bad as major chain discount/retail.

tigerteacher said...

Oh, I hear you about becoming a dyed in the wool thrifter after a while. I have similar thoughts when browsing at department or other kinds of shops: I can spend much less and get something that's made of a natural fabric, more interesting, etc. The only things that I don't have much luck with while thrifting are shoes and pants which have to fit just right. But when it comes especially to skirts and jackets: thrift all the way!

It's funny because this also touches upon the notion of disposable fashion for me in that I'll often pick up something from the thrift that's really odd and that I suspect even at the outset that I will be "over" after a couple of wearings, but I still consider spending say $3 for the pleasure of trying out wearing it and then deciding to whether to redonate it to be an ok one for me. I don't know...disposable or reusable/recycleable? At any rate, to me, it's a cheap hobby and it keeps me off the streets! :-)

Jane W. said...

I love the belt on those shorts, and the pattern mixing on the tights and sneakers. I can hardly wait to see how you style those velvet flats!

Eyeliah said...

In NYC (2006) I only got to spend one morning shopping and I chose H&M (since I'd never been there) and I went a lil crazy. I still wear all the pieces 3.5 year later too.

Anonymous said...

Yup, Century 21 is a madhouse!

I love all those shoes, though :) I'm glad that your trip was somewhat worthwhile!

Anonymous said...

I hear you on the Century 21 thing, it is a madhouse!

I love those shoes. I'm glad your NYC experience was somewhat worthwhile!

Charlotte said...

I'm going to NYC this weekend & will steadfastly avoid the crowded shops. When I lived there, I only went to Macy's ONCE, and it freaked me out.
The thrift-bug is life-changing, isn't it? Now when I look at a $15 price tag, I'm aghast!

Elissa said...

That is one thing I love about your outfits... the closer you look, the more details there are! Love that yellow gingham and the waist on the shorts!
When I used to live in NYC I would go to Century 21 mostly for cheap designer undies but going in there always gives me a near panic-attack!! Feels like a post-apocalyptic looting situation only for the bravest of hearts!

Anonymous said...

i love your outfit here! the shorts with tights combo looks great, and i like the pattern on your sneakers.

century 21 is indeed crazy! i work right near there, so the only time i'll go is if i am really early for work and can duck in beforehand- around 9:30am the place is totally dead, and i can walk through in 15 minutes. otherwise, i can't handle it and just shop online at etsy.

i love all 3 of your new flats! especially the pair in the middle- the texture is great. ~joelle

Reginasaurus said...

You look adorable and I love those shorts!

wardrobeexperience said...

oh, i think, i tryed these black-and-white steve madden's in ny, too... but they didn't fit right. i've been to ny past october.
we didn't entered h&m in nyc...we spent most of the shopping-time in thrift and charity shops.
beacon's closet and buffalo exchange are our faves! but sometimes those shops feel like madhouse, too.

Minni said...

Wow! Love the green, or is it yellow? Well, anyway, I love it!!! You too, of course! :)

Aivin mutsi said...

Aivi näki ton katunäkymä-kuvan ja kysyi: "Onks toi Amerikan kaupunki, mikä tossa näkyy? Onpa siel iso häslinki!" Voi pientä!