Shopping & Services

  • Best T-shirts for angry boys


    Chuck Guarino, co-founder of THECAST clothing, doesn't seem like an angry young man. With his curly hair and friendly eyes, his manner is mellow, affable, possibly slightly stoned. But the sexy shirts he and Ryan Turner design tell a different story. The distressed tees, printed with water-based ink on a single press in a basement on Ludlow Street, are resplendent… More >>
  • Best designer store to score '60s-inspired stewardess outfits


    Although I definitely approve of the educated view society as a whole has come to adopt toward stewardesses (I mean flight attendants), part of me remains nostalgic for their adorably funky outfits of yesterday (and not just on Halloween). Thankfully, Label has come to the rescue. Located a block south of Houston, this Los Angeles–based designer store resembles what I… More >>
  • Best place to turn cartwheels over a button

    Vardhman Inc

    The regal Statue of Liberty that guards New York with her stern visage and raised lamp isn't the only monument to the millions of immigrants who made (and still make) our city great: the giant Pop Art button-and-needle assemblage atop the Fashion Center kiosk at Seventh Avenue and 39th Street serves as a whimsical testament to the ceaseless toil of… More >>
  • Best place to trip and fall while running toward a French-schoolgirl jumper


    There it is, sitting in the window of A.P.C.: the sublime French-schoolgirl jumper of your dreams. Able to convert the most trucker-mouthed skank into a ruddy-cheeked Amélie ingenue, this is the kind of garb that makes you want to ride bicycles, buy baguettes, practice bad high school French. Throwing open A.P.C.'s door, you run to it—it's on the rack, probably… More >>
  • Best left-wing recruiting organization disguised as a toy store


    Kaya is a Nez Percé girl growing up circa 1764 and dreaming of becoming a tribal leader; 18th-century Felicity is antsy doing the sitting-down kinds of things that colonial girls are expected to do; Addy escapes from slavery and learns to read and write; in circa 1824 New Mexico, motherless Josefina and her sisters watch balefully as the new Americano… More >>
  • Best ravaged outpost of a retail chain to make you pine for the suburbs (three-way tie)

    Soho Old Navy

    When it comes to the suburbs, there's little to love: your weak hometown mall, the high school that sucked, nights spent hanging out at "the cool" Chili's. But all it takes is one trip to the Soho Old Navy, the Astor Place Kmart, or the Flatbush Target to realize how much you undersold your home 'burb in all its stocked-shelf… More >>
  • Best place to fill up on free samples while shopping in Soho

    Dean & DeLuca

    Shopping in Soho can be difficult and draining, and it can also make you feel very poor. Which is why I'm hanging out at the meat counter of Dean & DeLuca with two other women and we're all agreeing that the roasted chicken tastes great as we take a toothpick, stab at a heaping platter of chicken cubes, eat the… More >>
  • Best boutique to help you break the black-clothing habit

    Alpana Bawa

    Call it oversimplification, but when it comes to fashion, there are two kinds of people: those willing to wear colors and those who cling stubbornly to black. Maybe your penchant for sepulchral hues developed during an angsty goth phase, or perhaps it's just a lazy habit to avoid mixing and matching in the bleary-eyed morning. Whatever the case, a trip… More >>
  • Best place to watch Brooklyn girls rationalize spending the rent money on a $300 top


    The sign on the front door of Bird, a Carroll Gardens boutique, should say, "Enter at your at own risk." But the Brooklyn girl who can't afford Manhattan prices on her entry-level salary would probably ignore it anyway. The purposely rusted signage out front and rustic wood exterior (shack chic?) and mannequins dressed in effortlessly cool outfits in the window… More >>
  • Best shop resembling a walk-in closet aboard a first-class liner

    Dane 115

    This closet-size shop, actually reached through another store, showcases comfortable and glamorous contemporary and vintage threads perfect for starboard strolls and champagne hour on a Capri yacht. (Or the more practical application: dinner and a movie.) Owned by a mother/daughter team, Dane 115 offers modern and retro designs that are a playful mix of sporty and decadent, reminiscent of an… More >>
  • Best place to feel that your clothing is unworthy of even ironic hipster consumption

    Beacon's Closet

    On the surface, Beacon's Closet appears far less elitist than the city's many designer-only consignment shops. Accepting plebeian garb that doesn't boast a Marc Jacobs or Prada label, it's the one place your last-season Gap denim skirt can be exchanged for the few measly bucks it's worth. Or so one would think. Beacon's actually goes by a whole other judging… More >>
  • Best eco-friendly fashions


    Unfortunately, when most people think of eco-friendly fashion, their minds inevitably conjure up loose-fitting tunics with marijuana leaves plastered everywhere or the ever ubiquitous fratboy hemp necklace. It's a tough call: Who wants to save the planet looking like Woody Harrelson? The East Village store Gominyc will help you rescue the earth while looking your best. From funky silk-screen T-shirts… More >>
  • Best place to find a trilby

    Arnold Hatters - CLOSED

    Are the words dapper, rakish, and smart like pornography to you? Do you long to be as perfectly turned out as Pharrell Williams, Adrien Brody, or Andre 3000, resplendent in immaculate togs that would put Fred Astaire or Bryan Ferry to shame? Even the fuzzy gentlemen of ZZ Top know the value of dressing sharp for getting noticed—and getting lucky.… More >>
  • Best new place to buy plain clothes


    It can be hard to find the simplest clothes. What some stores tout as basics—solid-color T-shirts and button-ups, striped polos, plain khakis—often come emblazoned with unwelcome, unattractive logos or labels. And for every one of those ugly tags, the price seems to go up another $10—these companies should be paying us to advertise for them! Things are different at Uniqlo… More >>
  • Best vintage platform shoe collection


    "After dating someone for a few months you realize he's either too weird or too small," exclaimed a young woman sitting in one of the lounge chairs in Poppet, a cozy vintage shop off First Avenue. Two other women giggled and I couldn't help cracking a smile myself. Every time I pop into this East Village boutique I feel as… More >>
  • Best newfangled drug paraphernalia


    When joint-rolling time approaches, you probably just sit there on the edge of the couch, hunched over, pulling the buds off the sticks and smushing them up between your pathetic little fingers. And that's fine. You're just not a real pothead. Serious cannabis connoisseurs take full advantage of the plant—they know it's not just the flower but the kief, or… More >>
  • Best place to do well by looking good


    Yes, we like to think of ourselves as sensitive and ethical consumers. But even if Park Slope's Umkarna didn't feature clothing made by women's collectives, even if it didn't favor natural and recycled materials, even if it didn't embellish its website with a quotation from Walter Benjamin, we'd still shop there. We'd wear the brightly colored silk wrap dresses, drape… More >>
  • Best store to find designer clothes that could have been on That '70s Show

    Apt 141

    May 18, 2006, was a very sad day for millions, as the last episode of That '70s Show aired. Although there will always be re-runs, a more tangible way to fill this void is a shopping spree at Apt 141, a small boutique whose unique designs speak to the relaxed earthiness that dominated the female wardrobes on that TV hit.… More >>
  • Best vintage store to find hats that will probably appear in Broadway productions

    O Mistress Mine

    Stealing its name from a Shakespeare sonnet testifies to O Mistress Mine's theatrical ambitions. Showcasing frilly clothes from the turn of the century to shoulder-pad power dresses from the '80s, this vintage boutique has been displaying Costume History 101 in its small Seventh Avenue location since 1969. Besides the place's Bard-influenced moniker, the wide selection of hats available season after… More >>
  • Best reason to be a grown-up

    Kee's Chocolate Shop.

    Somebody please start playing the violin, because this is about to get pretty weepy. I was a poor kid growing up, and the little money that seemed to come in went out to Pop's bookie pretty fast. I remember loan sharks politely asking me, "Hey kid, where's your father, he's due some late-payment physical therapy." On the flip side of… More >>
  • Best place to buy yourself giant plastic bling


    Even if you're an old-fashioned sort who still thinks that serious rocks should come from and be paid for by someone else, sometimes you need to show yourself some love. You deserve a present. Enter Cinderella. When you first walk in, you're just kidding—a gargantuan disco ball perched on your finger? Hilarious. But the longer you're in there, the easier… More >>
  • Best place to make new costume jewelry

    Toho Shoji

    As a self-respecting former fine-art major with a grain of fashion sense, I find myself perpetually gawking at jewelry cases and thinking, "I can make that." But nothing is accomplished by sheer will; there must also be a way. Ever since I discovered Toho Shoji, a Japanese mega-mart of bijous, my jewelry box runneth over. Completely affordable and definitely overwhelming,… More >>
  • Best inexpensive jewelry that doesn't look cheap


    If you're not a member of the kind of family that passes heirlooms down through the generations, do not despair. This is 2006. You can buy your own heirlooms, damn it. Ornate, old-world-looking lockets, silver rings that have achieved authentic patinas, and costume jewelry that last went out on the town in 1956 can all be had for shockingly low… More >>
  • Best public junk collection

    Marty's Cool Stuff

    Marty's Cool Stuff is the store Edie Beale would have opened if she'd settled in the city and was into broken guitars, dog lamps, and back issues of National Geographic. The shop is so overrun you can't even go in (the door won't budge beyond a few feet), leaving the fifty-/sixtysomething owner to preside from a chair on the sidewalk.… More >>
  • Best place to have African pajamas custom made for you

    Djema Imports

    It doesn't have to be pajamas—let's be clear. You can have practically anything made at Djema Imports. A gown, a miniskirt, a pants suit . . . even curtains. The store is Harlem's largest provider of imported African fabric, and the selection is overwhelming. The 1,000-square-foot space is filled with neat rolls of printed cotton, rare and beautiful mud cloths,… More >>
  • Best store to feel like a fat American in


    With such generous sizing in U.S. clothing stores, it's easy for ladies to be tricked into thinking that at a size six, they're small enough to fit into almost anything they want. That's when a trip to a shop like Anemone can provide one harsh reality check. The Nolita store pulls in browsers with a selection of charmingly abbreviated peacoats… More >>
  • Best place to buy Edith Wharton– worthy furniture

    Calvary/St. George's Furniture Thrift Shop

    Not everyone wants to furnish an apartment with plastic storage cubes, brick-and-board bookcases, and Ikea bedsteads. More refined types, hell-bent on turning their tenement digs into an aerie worthy of Lily Bart (the place where she first lives, not the dump where she kills herself at the end of the book), should head to the Calvary/St. George's Furniture Thrift Shop,… More >>
  • Best place to pursue eclectic modernism

    Noguchi Museum

    You're smart, visually attuned, and on a tight New York budget. And your apartment is just killing you. Fresh paint helps, and so does getting rid of that lumpy old sofa and those kitschy-poo tchotchkes you collected during your protracted thrift store period. You're older now, and find yourself wiser. You want to live in a Designed Environment. But William… More >>
  • Best place for brownstoners to buy original fixtures for cheap

    Eddie's Antiques

    The beauty of owning a brownstone—other than future profits—is the satisfaction one receives from restoring it to its former glory, before greedy landlords chopped it up and put Sheetrock over any trace of character it once held. But renovating a brownstone can be very expensive, and if you don't have the funds to patronize some posh antique store, your dream… More >>
  • Best one-inch lawnmowers

    Tiny Doll House

    Most of the homes at Tiny Doll House look like they were lifted from a ghost story. Maids with perfect lace doilies on their heads pose in a permanent kneel, ready to clean the floor. A shrunken copy of the 1912 New York Times, with the headline "Titanic Sinks Four Hours After Hitting Iceberg," is splayed on a handmade Persian… More >>
  • Best teapots that look like chemistry sets


    Christmas morning 1983 I unwrapped one of the coolest presents I ever received, my very own chemistry set. Imagining myself a junior mad scientist, I used the beakers, vials, and test tubes to mix up important tinctures like invisible ink for writing secrets in my diary. Later, when chemistry was a requirement and grades depended on making my potions in… More >>
  • Best guy when you need a pocket square/tie/shirt etc. at the oddest hour for the most important function

    David Reeves

    A few months ago, I went tearing over to the Duncan Quinn shop in Nolita. I needed a pocket square, of all things, and I needed it right that minute. The store, known for its luscious suits and men's shirts—off the rack or bespoke—was closed. There I stood, jacket slung over my shoulder. And there, behind the half-pulled gate, stood… More >>
  • Best place to buy inexpensive men's clothes that isn't Century 21


    A fellow we know well works in what is arguably the toniest boutique on the Upper East Side. In that capacity he devises whole wardrobes for ladies who have the time and financial wherewithal to require such a service. In his private life, this guy lives on the Lower East Side with a French bulldog who has one brown eye… More >>
  • Best department store for strolling, if not buying

    Takashimaya - CLOSED

    Though Fifth Avenue boasts a famous roster of department stores—Saks, Bendel's, Bergdorf's—each of which has its undeniable charms, none is as quirkily eccentric as Takashimaya. The New York branch of this Japanese company features a frankly nutty collection of departments: There's a gardening department (anybody you know need a spade?) on the main floor and a travel area upstairs featuring… More >>
  • Best peddlers of borough pride

    Brooklyn Industries

    It's not often that you see New Yorkers sporting clothing or accessories embroidered with the words Manhattan, the Bronx, or Queens. Not that those residents don't take pride in their respective boroughs—it's just that they don't have the genius that is Brooklyn Industries marketing their home turfs. This innovative clothing outlet began playing a major role in encouraging, promoting, and… More >>
  • Best bra-sserie

    Orchard Corset

    The entrance doesn't scream luxe, calm, voluptuous sexiness—or any other things you'd expect from a tiny lingerie boutique. But the supremely old-school Orchard Corset boasts virtues far more rare: great prices and owners who can guess your bra size on sight. Of course, not every woman wants to have an aging guy in a yarmulke aim his X-ray vision at… More >>
  • Best jumping-off point for the burgeoning activist


    When the radical feminist bookstore Bluestockings decided to expand, it reopened with a third more space, longer hours, and a broader vision. No longer chiefly feminist, Bluestockings now offers literature and a sense of community to anyone who is challenging systems of oppression, whether these are based on class, gender, race, or sexual bias. On any given night, you might… More >>
  • Best place to fall off a ladder

    Westsider Books

    To fall off a ladder while, say, screwing in a lightbulb is sad. But to fall off a ladder while in hot pursuit of a first edition of The Sun Also Rises is kind of romantic. Finding a volume at Westsider Books can be a seriously perilous journey, with thousands of paperbacks and hardbacks crammed into every nook and cranny… More >>
  • Best metamorphosing bookstore mascot

    Community Bookstore

    Firmin, the titular hero of Sam Savage's first novel, is a rat who lives in the basement of a bookshop in Boston. He reads voraciously—books like Huck Finn, Middlemarch, and Dead Souls. This seems ambitious for a rat, what with his putative low standing in society, being told again and again he is bad, hated for centuries as a source… More >>
  • Best photography bookstore

    Dashwood Books

    It is the best, and it is the only independently run photography bookstore (i.e., not tied to an institution or a specific publisher) in New York City. Both of which make Dashwood Books, housed in a chic if understated storefront wedged between construction sites on Bond Street, seem more like an informal clubhouse for photographic bibliophiles than a strictly commercial… More >>
  • Best used-book store

    Housing Works Used Book Café

    This is sort of like trying to take account of the "best" in carrier pigeons and dodos, since there are only a handful of these outposts left. (Where do the used books disappear to now? Are they Giuliani'd, out of sight?) And "used" often gets you no more than "1/2 off," which is fine if spending $7.50 on a well-read… More >>
  • Best 18 miles in Manhattan

    The Strand

    The Strand bookstore promises its customers in New York—and internationally—"18 Miles of Books." Not even the legendary Foyle's Books in London comes close to the Strand in the adventures along those 18 miles. Whatever you're looking for, you'll find surprises—books you never knew you yearned for until you see them on the tables and shelves. And if you call 212-473-1452,… More >>
  • Best hotel gift shop

    Annie O.

    Snow globes and Big Apple magnets won't be found at the Hotel on Rivington's gift shop, Annie O. This is instead the place to locate souvenirs New Yorkers would like to buy for themselves. Dangerously located amid the bars and clubs of the Lower East Side and open late (from 11 a.m. until midnight, Tuesday through Sunday), Annie O. is… More >>
  • Best icing on the cake

    Cake Works

    The room isn't especially appetizing: glossy white walls lit by fluorescent lights, shelves and revolving displays crammed full of cookie cutters, hard-candy molds, plastic bride and groom figurines, and tooth-cracking ornaments. The surroundings may not be so tasty, but the cake decoration classes run by Lynette Clarke in the back of Prospect Heights' Cake Works certainly are. The classes, which… More >>
  • Best family-style market

    La Marqueta de Williamsburg

    One of only four enclosed Latino marketplaces remaining in New York, the Moore Street Retail Market, or La Marqueta de Williamsburg, as it has been known for more than 50 years, is about half the size of the Essex Street Market but twice as homey. Seniors frequently lounge at tables playing dominoes under skylights and fluttering flags, which represent the… More >>
  • Best late-night fossil retailer

    House of Cards & Curiosities

    You're already running late for your friend's birthday party downtown when you realize you've forgotten to get a gift. Sure, you could stop at any of a dozen tiny, interchangeable stores in the West Village and buy the requisite whimsical birthday card with the throwaway pop-culture reference and the inevitable, overpriced kitschy-ironic tchotchke. Or you could get an original Victorian… More >>
  • Best place to get bathed like a giant baby

    Graceful Services

    At uptown spa Graceful Services a nice woman will lay you down completely naked on a folding bed and scour your butt, legs, and any rough patches on your body until they're silky smooth. After this full body scrub ($80), she'll help you into a steamer shower featuring multiple nozzles that cleanse from every direction. Not since you were two… More >>
  • Most eyebrow-obsessed New Yorker

    Jimena Garcia

    "If you touch your eyebrows I will kill you." Although I usually frown heavily upon death threats, when the ultimatum is uttered by eyebrow-expert extraordinaire Jimena Garcia at Robin Evans Skincare Soho, I find myself promising to immediately throw out my tweezers and book consecutive follow-up appointments. This is the type of unquestioning loyalty a lead waxer can inspire. After… More >>
  • Best salon to get hammered at

    Maria Bonita Salon and Spa

    Follow the sounds of bossa nova to Maria Bonita Salon and Spa, where it's happy hour all the time. This Brazilian-inspired full-service retreat not only offers manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, haircuts, and all the usual treatments available everywhere else, but there are cocktails too. Even if you book a 10 a.m. appointment, try not to go on an empty stomach—the… More >>
  • Best place for my boyfriend to get a tattoo that's four times bigger than he said it would be

    Fineline Tattoos

    It's a copy of a Rembrandt etching of a man playing an early version of golf and it occupies a five-by-three-inch portion of his upper arm. Basically, it occupies his upper arm. After the initial shock wore off, though, I had to admit—that's a really nice-looking tat. Mike Bakaty is the man behind the ink. In fact, he's the man… More >>
  • Best painless wax

    Euphoria Day Spa

    The relationship between a woman and her aesthetician is a very personal one. After all, she gets to see you in all your "natural" glory when you go in for a bikini wax—and no matter how hairy it looks down there, she should never make you feel like a circus freak. Kristen Haines, owner of Euphoria Day Spa in Tribeca,… More >>
  • Best cheap cut-and-color


    When I dye my hair, I'm used to smearing on some variation of auburn goo, inevitably getting my hands filthy and my bathroom stained, only to have the color fade in a few weeks. So when a friend told me about Marysia's $40 cut-and-color it sounded like a fabulous break from my usual DIY routine. This Polish salon is buzzing… More >>
  • Best hair salon in a downtown loft

    Takamichi Hair

    One of the many things that big cities like Tokyo and New York have in common is finite ground-level commercial real estate; there is just not enough to go around. Some of the more inventive and forward-thinking business owners opt out and take up shop on the edges: a new neighborhood, a side street, a basement. In the case of… More >>
  • Best threesome

    Banyan Citi Spa

    Threesomes can be tricky to organize. First, you need to find willing participants who share similar ideas about what's pleasurable. Secondly, the acts need to be performed smoothly so that no one feels left out and you get exactly what you crave—which is usually a lot of attention! Third, you hope that afterward everyone is completely satisfied. Unfortunately, someone always… More >>