There are as many ways to shop in this city as there are layers - with just as many real-life Carrie Bradshaws and international visitors to buy it all up. You can really find it all - from the latest Nikes to a pair of life changing, jewel encrusted satin mules. I decided to focus on a few neighbourhoods - mixing up a little funky downtown with the upmarket glamour of Fifth Avenue - and visit my favourite department stores.

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Nike| 6 East 57th Street, New York | 1-212-891 6453 |
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The great thing about staying in this neighborhood was having plenty of interesting labels right there at the doorstep. There are your famous, rock star designers like Stella McCartney (everything is organic but you’d never know it) and Diane Von Furstenburg - who has opened her amazing, multi-tiered boutique/ headquarters there. I have a lot of respect for her iconic wrap dress, which freed up women from suits in the 70s, giving them something sexy but comfortable. Now her label also does plenty of feminine resort style dresses and blouses in fun, splashy patterns if you like colour.

Jeffreys is like a mini
boutique department store put together with a stylist’s eagle eye. The store is a great lightening rod for whatever is of the moment - whether it’s drainpipe leggings, the new trench coats or an in-demand bag. I have always been a believer in personal style over slavishly following trends but still love to get a feel for what the fashion world is up to. This store is so on-trend it’s like a hipster masterclass. Jeffrey brilliantly mixes the hot labels with the up and coming designers you won’t have heard of yet and most things tend to be on sale.

I really liked Yigal Azrouel’s fantastic, soft leather - his shrunken jackets are very unusual and not so structured. They fit right in with his beautifully fluid clothes. The beautiful prints at Tory Burch’s plush new store really stood out for me. The poppy wheel design on her asymmetrical, one shoulder long ‘Rodion’ dresses or pleat skirts in a silhouette tree print are a very signature look and you see a lot of Manhattan girls toting her studded handbags around - definitely worth a look. British fashion star, Matthew Williamson chose this district for his first US store and the clothes and colours are stunning. There is an almost ethnic peasantry feel that is edgy but feminine. But bring a sugar daddy or leave your wallet in the hotel safe - the prices are as sky high as the Empire State building!

You are well covered with designer fashion but New York also has all the brilliant chain stores that are amazingly priced. Scoop is one of the best - they bring together cool, wearable labels from all over the country and you can have a field day with their great belts, shoes and jewelry. They have stores for men, women and children so whether you want to spend $150 or $1050 it won’t take you very long.

The other must-do chains in the US, Banana Republic and Club Monaco have stores all over the city. The clothes are way above the quality of the fast fashion at the bottom end but are still designed by a team who quickly reinterpret wardrobe staples with seasonal touches. If you lost your luggage you would come here first! They have all the pencil skirts, tailored pants and crisp white shirts a girl needs - and can then customise in her own way.

When still in Meatpackers, it’s fun to just ooh and aah at La Perla for impossibly impractical, gorgeous lingerie and the glamorous pointy stilettos (with telltale red soles) at Christian Louboutin.
We all have bad hair days but I never think of travel as a rationalization for a lot of them in a row. I like to start a trip with a good blow dry and scope out the good salons when away. Blow on 14th Street, right on the border of the district, is brilliant because it just does blow dries and nails (making it a ‘blow-dry bar’). You’re in and out of there in no time - perfect for the busy Manhattan career girl in her lunchhour or travelers with an eye on the time.

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Jeffery| 449 West 14th St , New York | 1-212-206 7064 | View web site
Christian Louboutin| 59 Horatio Street, New York | +1 212 255 1910 | View web site
Yigal Azrouel| 408 West 14th Street , New York | 1-212- 929 7525 | View web site
Matthew Williamson| 413 West 14th Street , New York | View web site
La Perla| 425 West 14th Street , New York | +1-212- 242 6662 | View web site
Scoop Stores| 873, 875, 861 Washington Street , New York | View web site
Blow Salon | 342 west 14th St , New York | 1-212-505 2157 | View web site
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Little pockets of fashion spring up in Manhattan like mushrooms after rain, beloved by those escaping the big guns - the department stores and huge retail acres of Soho and Madison Ave. Bleeker Street in the West Village is one of the city’s best shopping streets, bursting with bijou boutiques with tiny, old-world shopfronts. You could build a look from scratch without ever leaving - from make-up to masochistic underwear saying “Doormat.”

Robert Marc
has put together a huge variety of straight-off-the-jet, oversized shades by brands like Badgley Mischka and Beausoleil. Cynthia Rowley is great for feminine, butter-wouldn’t-melt dresses in eggshell satin and girly florals and if you’re into a cheekier, funky young label Lulu Guinness describes her design statement as “part schoolgirl, part granny, part vamp.”

It’s pretty amazing to see three Marc Jacobs boutiques alone (with a fourth on the way!) in one street. He is probably one of New York fashion’s hottest designers who dares to even keep Anna Wintour waiting for hours each year with his own collection. You can see pretty much feast yourself on his ready-to-wear collection, eyewear, and leather and then run up the road to accessorize with jewelry and hats.

Ralph Lauren, one of the all-time great American labels, is a bit of a canary in the fashion coalmine. When a boutique opens it is like an official stamp that confirms a neighborhood is thriving; Bleeker St is in the downtown club. You can see the full, dream for Menswear and Womenswear in action but also check out the worn out, ranch hand appeal of the diffusion RRL line next door.

There is a really cool perfume company, Bond Nyc No 9 that names all its signature fragrances after New York neighborhoods, with fun names, like “Eau de Noho”, “Chelsea Flowers” and “Great Jones” for the ‘discerning metro nose.’ It’s a brilliant idea for presents because you are bringing back a unique touch of New York. The line has really classy scents - fresh and green, caramelized vanilla or woody, dark, cinnamons. And the special edition of “Chinatown” has the most fabulous packaging I have seen in a long time - fuchsia cherry blossoms sprinkled with Swarovski crystals. It’s a perfume wonderland that makes a welcome change from the faceless, duty free stores and same-old, same-old perfumes we see in a succession of airports.

In any retail explosion I’m always interested in the niche or brand new designers that you can only find in that one spot, out of anywhere in the world. Up and coming labels get a look in on Bleeker: they are all conveniently banded together under one roof at Edge. Coined “the future in retail” it’s a chance to try young talent and pick up a unique bargain outside the fashion establishment - from Selma Karaca’s amazing, cowl neck long dresses stitched with layers of slashed fabric to funky shrunken knits with fur Peter Pan collars at Born Again Originals. Men can find tailored jackets with contrasting cuffs at F&Y Dragonfly.

For designers even closer to their fashion school roots you can try Mulberry Market. Every Saturday at 10am they sell their funky creations at market stalls on Mulberry Street between Houston and Prince Street.

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Cynthia Rowley | 376 Bleecker St., 
nr. Perry St, , New York | 
212-242-380 | View web site
Robert Marc | 386 Bleecker St at Perry , New York | (212-242-6668) |
Lulu Guiness | 394 Bleecker St, New York | 212-367-2120 | View web site
Marc Jacobs | 385 Bleecker St
(nr. Perry St), New York | 212-924-6126 |
Ralph Lauren Men’s Store | 381 Bleecker Street, New York | 646-638-0684 |
Ralph Lauren Women’s Store | 383 Bleeker Street, New York | 212-645-5513 |
Rrl| 390 Bleecker Street, New York | 212-462-4390 |
Edge| 65 Bleecker St between Broadway to LaFayette, New York | 212 358-0255 65 |
Bond No. 9 | 399 Bleecker St (11th Street), New York | + 1 212 6331641 | View web site
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West Broadway cuts through the heart of Soho, where anyone local lucky enough to score a gigantic loft can walk out the door to some of the city’s best shopping. The warehouse culture here means the shops are huge, light and airy, which I like (they were once industrial workshops in the 19th century, then studios for 70s and 80s artists who needed space and light). There is a lot of traffic that spills over from Broadway and plenty of people pouring in for the cafes, restaurants and concentration of shops. Huge rents keep them pretty high end - but you still get the downtown, buzzy vibe on the streets.

Top Shop This UK chain, which keeps everyday British girls on-trend, pretty much exploded into the US with this store. Kate Moss had just been there a few weeks ago to launch her own Top Shop new line, which practically flew out of the racks. I love it - they really pull off all the new looks at a great price, from 80s to nautical. Bandeau and one shoulder dresses, fashion leggings, loose knits with ladders, tulip and frilled skirts… you can walk out of here with bulging bags to refresh your wardrobe and still have money in your wallet. But you may sustain a few bruises! It’s not for the faint-hearted: the blaring pop music sets the scene for hectic, crowded shopping amongst lots of Top Shop fans.

Being genuinely athletic
and into the look, Jonathan was in heaven with all the sports stores in Soho. Adidas has three stores alone including their Sports Heritage store for the fashion crowd who love the company’s re-launched retro looks as well as a whole store devoted to new, eco-friendly sibling label, SLVR. Adidas use organic cotton, bamboo and soybean fibre yet the final product still manages to look like a sports shoe! Nike’s flagship store here has certain new products that are unavailable anywhere else in the world. They only opened last year - with a big block party. Jonathan bought Endurance Sphere waffle shorts that he will run into the ground over the years.

A visit to Adriano Goldschmied
jeans are must as well. It’s unique. They only sell their own label and you have a guy in the window who alters them for you with his sewing machine so they guarantee the perfect fit. AJ jeans are all shapes and sizes - bootcut, skinny, flared, wide legged, cropped, they even do denim skirts. I bought a classic pair in a great fit for about $250, complete with modern rips everywhere.

The street stalls provide plenty
of light and shade too. We saw Debra Skyler’s ‘energetic’ jewelry line, lightbysky that is supposed to affect your mood with crystals, star signs, and sacred geometric shapes.

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Top Shop | Broadway and Broome , New York | View web site
Adidas Sport Performance Store | 610 Broadway, 610 Broadway, New York | +1 212-529-0081 |
Adidas Sport Heritage Store | 136 Wooster St, 136 Wooster St, New York | +1 212-673-0398 |
Adidas Silver | 108 Wooster St, , 108 Wooster St, , New York | 212- 941-6580 | View web site
Nike | 21 Mercer St (between Broome and Grand) , New York |
AJ Jeans | 111 Greene St, between Prince St & Spring St , New York | 212 - 680-0581 | View web site
Light| New York | 1-516-766 0483 | View web site
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The uptown streets just below Central Park make up some of the most impressive square retail miles in America. It’s a glamour playground with the most potent old-school brands in the world: serious jewels at Tiffany’s, Harry Winston and de Beers, old-school high-end boutiques like Pucci, Dunhill, Valentino, and younger labels like Herve Leger. Abercrombie and Fitch is covered in hot, muscle-bound staff and a DJ keeps the music pumping.

This is alpha female territory,
where wealthy women, or just plain supermodels, stroll confidently down Fifth Avenue past giant stone deco buildings with every possible temptation, from bling to ballgowns, in the windows. I must admit it’s fun to make a major purchase here; there is something so much more exciting about seeing high luxe in the metropolitan environment where it has always been, instead of in a vacuum in a faceless mall.

I don’t impulse-buy
and will walk away from something I love to think it though, but Fendi’s beautiful store did call me back. It’s quite surreal to see so many furs (not that I need to even enter that debate, living in Australia) and I ended up investing in one of this season’s ‘peek-a-boo’ bags in classic black. I use the word investment because handbags become a woman’s signature for years and years, helping her define a mood. If you look at the Cost-Per-Wear then a good quality bag is a much better deal than a flashy, fashion-victimy one-off that will date very quickly.

You have to visit the gorgeous uptown department stores here - they are more like the emporiums of old, stocked with only beautiful things. Barneys is almost like a museum, where a selection of the best items from the best designers have been curated and beautifully put together. The windows are divine - always witty enough to make passers by stop to look. Once inside it’s hard to get past the ground floor because of all the eye candy: the jewelry, accessories and make up are all unusual and a few notches above. You are nearly always guaranteed to bump into someone famous; this time I saw Anne Hathaway. The shoe level on the 4th floor is heaven - I’m a fan of Miu Miu and Lanvin. I loved being left to my own devices by Jonathan, who found plenty of staples in menswear - a Paul Smith scarf (a label that always has that dandy, British twist), knits, jeans and designer tees.

Bergdorfs is also a real jewel of a store right by Central Park – one of the best places in New York for glittery evening wear.

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Flowers by Zoe| That is 1070 at Madison Av at 81st, , New York | +1-212-535 3777 | View web site
Barneys New York | 660 Madison Ave, New York | +1 212 826-8900 | View web site
Bergdorfgoodman | 754 Fifth Ave, New York, NY. Location, At 57th St. , New York | +1 212 753-7300 | View web site
The Gap | 1511 3rd Ave, New York | View web site
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New York designer, Isaac Mizrahi operates his own couture line out of Bergdorf’s so you can have him custom make an ensemble that fits you perfectly. Of course getting a world famous designer to tweak you wont leave you much change out of $11,000. Waaay at the other end of the scale Mizrahi, the ultimate pioneer of high/low fashion, also designs basics for Target.

Over on the East Side, Bloomingdales is a much larger store that also includes a lot of wearable, street fashion. It occupies an entire city block! This store has everything so you may want to send your husband and bored children off if they hate shopping; you’ll be there awhile! The US is such a high-volume market that all the dept store sale periods feature amazing bargains.

After raising two boys I take great pleasure in dressing my daughter. I love the Flowers by Zoe store on Madison Avenue that specializes in really adorable (but not sickly sweet) girl-to-tween dressing. There is everything from terry toweling hoodies in tie-die prints to smocks lightly sprinkled in rhinestones. Of course as much fun as shopping here was it was poignant to see all the mini-diva outfits. It made me miss my own Zoe back in Australia even more!
If, like me, you are not the ‘Baby Dior’ type you can always find terrific basics and seasonal pieces for kids at the chains: sporty GAP and fashion-conscious ZARA (which, amazingly, both don’t sell in Australia, so I stock up).

A long walk up Madison Avenue will take you all the way up to the 70s blocks, to a whole Upper East Side world of antique stores, florists, gourmet food, homewares and high-end hairdressers. I’d love to explore uptown because the shops go on and on but I would need another 4 or 5 days.

NOLITA (the nickname for north of Little Italy) is a small, quaint district below Houston Street full of eclectic and unusual small labels that sprung up as a kind of little sister to Soho. That will be my next port of call. If you have any Nolita tips I’d love to hear them. Share the wealth with us on our YOU SAID forum..

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Bloomingdales| 59th Street & Lexington Avenue 1000 Third Avenue, New York | 212-705-2000 | View web site
Zara| 750 Lexington Ave, , New York | (212) 754 1120 | View web site
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Around Broadway in the 30s and 40s (streets) one store owner after another will shrug on their plaid jacket and beckon you in for a bargain. The fierce competition and undercutting means that you will find cheaper prices here, although we were a little nervous to buy electronics so far from home, away from all the rules and regulations of a big store.

Our guide, Cliff recommended B and H Camera and Electronics Store so we set off on our electronics mission: we all needed new Blackberries. They put in a lot of time with us and we were still negotiating all the way up to our trip to the theatre - I had to sprint up Broadway in heels.

The salesman was a dab hand at this: he kept on adding one thing after another. We went in to buy our sons Josh and Noah a phone and we ended up walking away with 5 phones: one each plus one for my mother-in-law!

We felt a little out our comfort zone. You buy the phones thinking that if a store is on Broadway they can’t be making their last sale; they must be pretty reputable. At the same time we are parting with about $2000 Australian dollars (about $1400 US) without a net. This is not a big chain…

To paraphrase Meatloaf, don’t be sad, two out of five ain’t bad! Now that we are back in Australia, two of the phones don't work. Jonathan’s approach is always - go straight to the manager and start nicely. He will send a photo ahead of our visit to the store and say, we can play this 1 of 2 ways etc etc.
I had told them that we are not people that don’t come back if things don’t work out; I’m sure that we’ll get a refund. We have sent back the duds and replacements are apparently on the way to Australia. We’ll keep you posted if there are any dramas…NONE TO REPORT 2 MTHS ON...

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B and H Photo | 420 9th Avenue, New York | 212- 444-5044 |
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