Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Upon launching her Prince Street bookstore in 2004, Sarah McNally said her motivation was to "make reading more alluring." This April, she worked that same magic on the art of writing. Cupboards of supplies and pristinely arranged sample desktops display the esoteric but irresistibly romantic tools of the trade at Soho's new McNally Jackson Store, purveyor of "goods for the study." Everything in this small but charming shop compels visitors to sit and muse. Artisanal pencils, charcoal, notebooks, and portfolios tempt the inner scribe. The handmade leather pencil cases for around $50 are beautifully crafted and gift-ready. On the more exorbitant side, the $3,000 vintage desks are exquisite, if only the stuff of dreams. Soft lighting and a roster of non-pushy shopkeepers invite a lengthy browse and maybe a splurge in the name of craftsmanship or proper correspondence. Be prepared to want to leave your gadgets behind.
There is a time when you want flawless workmanship combined with lightning-fast speed, and that time is when hot wax is being applied to your precious, flower-like nethers. Professional Threading Studio more than lives up to its name. It's a quiet, immaculate upstairs space on St. Marks Place, where everyone knows their (lady) business and how not to scald it right off. The waxers work fast, chat lightly to minimize the palpable awkwardness such an undertaking involves, and their chocolate wax makes your bathing suit area smell like a Hershey's. Who could resist? At $25 for a Brazilian, it's also easily one of the cheapest games in town. Tip lavishly.
What can we say; the Italians seem to know L.A. style better than L.A., or at least how to mass-market relaxed, affordable basics. This Roman brand was founded more than 30 years ago, but only just secured its second New York location (on the Upper West Side). Brandy Melville, seen on Lindsay Lohan and a Kardashian or two, is still overwhelmingly a cult brand, its signature "Fancy As Fuck" tee more at home in Williamsburg than Hollywood. Crop tops, baggy sweaters, and Nirvana tanks paired with flowery skirts line the walls of the New York flagship in Soho, where, on weekends, a line still forms to get in. But the five-to-15-minute wait is worth it for effortlessly trendy casual goods, the priciest of which barely top $50. If you can deal with the somewhat delusional one-size-fits-all policy—and most can; everything's at least mercifully elasticized—then this is the place to go for a flattering day-to-evening dress (we love the now ubiquitous "Bethan") or a bargain $6 summer halter.
Most neo-Brooklynites just want to escape their suburban towns, coolly sidestep a 9-to-5 office job, and avoid ever having to buy work-appropriate apparel as a freelancer. Trouble is, after the third consecutive day of writing in a noisy Starbucks, it's hard not to yearn for the peace and quiet an office provides. Never fear, professional freelancers: You can have your dream and live it, too, at Bat Haus. By far the hippest and most community-oriented of Brooklyn's recent strand of offices-for-rent, this Bushwick collective by Cody Sullivan and Natalie Chan features a "large sexy workspace," speedy Wi-Fi, miscellaneous office services, and, most valuably, an ever-rotating stock of co-workers ripe for creative exchange. For $20 per day, $99 per month part-time, or $149 per month full-time, this bright, high-ceilinged warehouse of "getting stuff done" can become home to your next start-up or professional endeavor. Subscribers also get access to the quaint backyard garden and discounted event-hosting.
Lengthy industrial racks are packed tight in the sprawling Bushwick warehouse. The wood paneling on the walls clashes with the jazzy orange paint job, which, in turn, clashes with just about every article of clothing in the place. We've seen shirt patterns here that defy our wildest dreams. Yes, Urban Jungle Vintage is vintage shopping in its truest form: an all-out scavenge with the real risk of hideousness. But when you do find that gem—of which there are plenty tucked away here—it's all the more rewarding, and you can be sure it's one-of-a-kind. Thrift is a term that, for once, can be aptly applied: Jeans are a low $10 and tees $7, with outerwear and shoes no more than $40. A day spent hunting here is well worth it for a $15 '70s minidress, if not just the thrill of the hunt.
The apparel sold out of the back of the sleekly retrofitted Nomad truck is chiefly of the gypsy-bohemian style, which couldn't be more fitting. Owner Jessie Goldenberg peddles her women's fashion at markets, street fairs, and music festivals, but can also be seen wheeling her caravan around Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Hoboken on a sporadic basis. Nomad hit the gas in April, and as one of the first mobile boutiques, it helped inspire the recent influx of vehicular fashion in New York. We think it's still the best of the lot—the bulk of this collection of vintage and handmade designs is kept within a reasonable $20 to $60 price range; not bad, given the extreme decadence of a store that comes to you. Tribal patterns and lacy peasant blouses abound, complemented by a trendy selection of hats and fringed satchels. Now all this truck needs is a tune to let the fashionistas know she's coming.