Clothes Shopping in New York – The Definitive Guidebook
May 30, 2016

Nothing tops off a visit to the Big Apple like a no holds barred shopping trip. Unfortunately, many visitors don’t know where some of the best places to shop are, and often miss some of the best shopping found off the beaten path in trendy boutiques and clothier outlets.
Where else but in the fashion capital of the country can one find designer duds at a fraction of the cost? But you need to be careful; there are a lot of knockoffs floating around the streets. Avoid street vendors. If they seem to have the best prices for designer duds, it’s because they are most likely cheap copies.

To ensure you have a successful shopping spree, we have compiled a list with links of some of the best shopping in the city and surrounding areas, dividing them by category. Whatever you are searching for, our list is a complete guide to shopping. From shoes to shoulder bags, we have you covered. We’ve included plus size specialty shops and vintage stores, the perfect place to find an eclectic assortment of fine garments, vintage purses, jewelry and more. For the more traditional shopping experience, we have major department stores and outlet malls, along with all the best shopping in NYC listed for your convenience.

Table of Contents

  1. 1. How to Find a Great Pair of Shoes in New York
  2. 2. Choosing the Right NYC Look
  3. 3. How to Find Great Deals in NYC
  4. 4. How to Look Like a Million Bucks Wearing Department Store Clothes in NYC
  5. 5. How to Shop New York Vintage and Thrift Stores
  6. 6. How to Organize Your NYC Outlet Shopping Experience
  7. 7. How to Flatter Your Plus Size Figure in New York
  8. 8. How to Turn Denim from Drab to New York Fab


1. How to find a Great Pair of Shoes in New York

Finding the perfect fitting shoes goes beyond simply searching your shoe size and slipping on only one pump. The first thing you need to know is that while you can measure your own foot, you will get a more accurate size and much better fit if you have the shoe salesperson do the measuring.

While looks are important, fit should always come first. Does the shoe feel comfortable? Does the back of the shoe give plenty of clearance without your heel slipping out, or does it rub against the back of your heel? Is there plenty of room for your toes? Can you wiggle them, or do they crowd and overlap? Are they wide enough to feel comfortable, or do your feet swim in them?

Once you determine the shoe fits well, make sure it has the hallmarks of a well-made shoe. Is the sole sturdy and made of durable material? What material is the upper made of? A really good shoe will be made of leather and stitched to the insole, instead of cemented. The insole may have a comfort aspect, such as memory foam, gel, or other type of substantial padding to absorb shock. A great pair of pumps will look fabulous and feel comfortable. The same goes for men’s dress shoes.

Of course, this advice is irrelevant to fashion. If you are going for Jimmy Choo’s or Louboutin’s, the only thing that matters is that they are genuine, and you like them. Let’s face it, spike heels aren’t made to be comfortable, they’re made to make a statement.  

For men’s shoes, ensure the leather is full grain, not corrected leather. Full grain will have all the nuances that are inherent in leather, such as slight imperfections and flaws, but will develop a natural patina and will last longer and wear better. Full grain is handled and treated minimally.

Corrected leather has had the surface sanded to remove imperfections, then it is coated and sealed. Although real leather, it may look like plastic and can wear poorly, creasing easily, cracking and peeling. The good thing about corrected leather is that it is stain resistant and some shoes made with. Most shoes made of leather are made from corrected leather, including high end shoes. When looking for full grain, ask your clerk.




2. Choosing the Right NYC Look

Whether shopping for yourself, a family member or friend, selecting clothes that are flattering, appropriate and in style can be a challenge. Knowing body measurements is crucial for a successful purchase. While there are standard sizes such as 2/3, 4/5, 6/7 and so on, brands may vary. So, if you have measurements along with sizes, you will be assured your purchase will fit.

Next, select colors that enhance features. Color palettes for clothing and make-up are divided by seasons–winter, summer, spring, and fall. Hair, eye and skin color determine which palette the person belongs in, making selecting the perfect color for anyone a breeze. To identify which season you are shopping for, and what colors are in the season, take this quiz.

Finally, consider fabric texture, pattern and cut. This part in the selection process is as important as selecting the correct size. Body type is central to selecting just the right outfit. There are four basic body types; square, triangle, circle and the coveted hour glass. Each figure has certain aspects which are strengths and weaknesses, even the perfect hour glass may have enormous hips and breasts. The trick is to drape the body in a fashion that draws attention the strengths. Kristin Larson has created an excellent slide show with examples of each figure type with guides on how to dress each one.




3. How to Find Great Deals in NYC

Bargain shopping in NYC is a blast. It would be a shame to shop in NYC and leave without experiencing the famous New York Sample Sales. Savvy shoppers also know that in SOHO, you can find fantastic priced on designs from last year’s overstock. The best way to find the deals, is to check daily ads in the New York Times to find bargain basement sales, which are held frequently in NYC. Nothing crowns a Big Apple shopping spree like finding the garment of your dreams at a price your friends won’t believe.

But there are all sorts of bargains to be had in New York, so for our thrifty shoppers, we have a fantastic assortment of the best thrift shops and second hand stores. Thanks to Broadway, thrift store finds often include theatrical memorabilia; you might even find an old Rockets costume. As the “melting pot” origin of the country, myriads of cultures have lived in this city, making unique finds like Russian nesting dolls a distinct possibility. Whatever sort of treasure you are shopping for, you can find it in New York at a bargain price.

4. How to Look Like a Million Bucks Wearing Department Store Clothes in NYC

Today many department store brands feature famous designers, so looking like you stepped off the runway is easy, especially with so many also employing personal shoppers. With the help of one of these fashion experts at your side, looking runway ready is a snap. It’s all about the complete package; it’s about dressing from head to toe. Check out your favorite designers looks and then finish your look taking cues from them. Don’t be afraid to add a splash of color in your shirt and tie, finishing your look with a pair of cuff-links and a sleek tie tack.

Each accessory you select elevates your look when done correctly, and this is tricky. It is so easy to over or under-do. Each style has its own demands, from slim and conservative to big and flashy. Whatever you like, you can build your runway look with the perfect shoes, belt or bracelet, all from the same store. If you have doubts, your friendly salesperson will be happy to help you achieve the fashion forward look you are shopping to create. Treat yourself to a makeover, including hair and nails and voila, instant fashionista!

Macy’s is practically right next door to our rooftop bar, and it’s a must-visit for department stores

5. How to Shop New York Vintage and Thrift Stores

Many fortunes have been made with rare thrift store finds. From Flemish paintings to a fabulous Faberge egg, thrift store finds purchased for only a few dollars that turn into millions are out there, waiting to be discovered hidden in rooms filled to the brim with knickknacks, bric-a-brac and all sorts of fabulous things.

One of the great things about shopping vintage and thrift shops is that you can barter for a better price. The more you buy, the bigger the discount. When you head out, keep your eyes peeled for art canvasses. Not every find is a masterpiece, but it isn’t unusual to find pieces worth quite a bit more than what was paid. When shopping vintage you need to check clothing for weakness, tears, lost buttons and broken or missing fasteners and zippers. Discoloration may be difficult to see in some darker shops so feel free to take it to the window or to the counter for better light.

If you can’t find what you are looking for, ask. It isn’t unusual for thrift store owners to have backrooms with hidden treasures. If the shop owner doesn’t have what you are searching for, they may be able to recommend a shop that may. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that these shop owners didn’t stock the store to keep everything, so don’t be afraid to make an offer and strike a deal.

6. How to Organize Your NYC Outlet Shopping Experience

Organizing your outlet shopping helps you hit all the stores you and your shopping companions want to visit. First, take a look at the outlet malls in our list and discover what shops are located where. Select the outlets you wish to visit, and decide which order works best. We suggest beginning with the closest and working your way out, or vice versa, depending on which malls have the most stores you and your shopping party wish to visit.

However you decide to line up your outlets, it’s important to keep track of the time. Two hours can fly by; setting a time limit per store helps ensure you visit as many of the stores as you can. Creating an itinerary for your shopping experience keeps you organized and raises your chances of getting to all the shops.

7. How to Flatter Your Plus Size Figure in New York

Finding clothes to fit your plus size figure can feel daunting, searching endlessly for the look you like available in your size. But don’t despair, NYC fashion mecca has plenty of options for plus sized people. As mentioned, selecting the right colors and cuts for your body type begin with determining your season and body type. (See Chapter Two: Choosing the Right NYC Look)

When shopping plus size, try everything on as sizes vary among brands. You are looking for clothes that accent your strengths and downplay your figure flaws. If you are a plus sized circle, your legs may still look fantastic as you will carry your weight around your mid-section, so take advantage of them and select clothing that flatters your legs. If you carry your weight in your hips and legs, purchase clothing made to down play those and draw attention to your waist, face and arms.

Plus sized salespersons are normally plus sized too, so not only do they understand your needs at a personal level, they can assist you find clothes that suit your style and flatter your figure.

8. How to Turn Denim from Drab to New York Fab

Dressing up your denim can be done simply or with a lot of glitz. For guys, adding a really nice pair of shoes, dress shirt and jacket creates the classic look, dress casual. A skinny tie and tie tack complete your ensemble.

Ladies can dress up their denim by adding embroidery around the cuffs, up the side seams, and on pockets. Some ladies love to bedazzle, adding rhinestones to everything. Adding some bling to your denim can turn them from a day at the park pants to a night on the town trousers. If you want just a bit of flash, try adding a long, gold neck chain either draping it from waist to hip or through the belt loops. As always, a nice pair of fashion heels with a blouse, sweater or camisole and jacket also takes your denim to the next level.