New York City is undeniably the center of fashion and shopping in the US, if not the world. Having been born and raised on the east coast, I have a lot of feelings about New York, but my fondest memories are of spending an obscene amount of money on sushi and clothes.
If you go to New York, you're going to shop. That's just a given. I, personally, am not capable of the type of self control that it would take to keep my wallet in my bag on the streets of Manhattan. If you're new to New York (or even if you're not) and you're feeling particularly Carrie Bradshaw-esque, there are 7 places that you absolutely must visit.
Just stay away from Midtown. Trust me.
Shopping in SoHo isn't cheap, but it's not nearly as expensive as it once was. There's a nice mix of designer stores, mainstream retail stores, and funky boutiques to cater to everyone's tastes and budgets.
Nolita has a very similar vibe to SoHo. It can also be a little pricey, but Elizabeth St has amazing specialty stores and cute little 1 of a kind shops. It's very artist-driven and you'll find unique pieces there that you can't find anywhere else.
If you've seen Breakfast at Tiffany's or Sex and the City, then you've definitely been exposed to 5th Ave. It is home to Tiffany + Co, Louis Vuitton, Versace, Chanel, Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel. 5th Ave is arguably the most popular shopping strip in America. Don't let the impressive designer roster scare you away. There are lots of mainstream retailers and department stores (with amazing sales), so you can have your Holly Golightly moment too.
The glamour of the Upper East Side is epitomized on the infamous Madison Avenue. This street is home to Barneys New York and is the most expensive retail real estate in the world. This is the creme de la creme of shopping, the promised land of retail. There is no such thing as a budget here, so be prepared to spend some serious cash. If you don't have Beckham or Knowles-Carter money, it's also a good place to window shop and people watch. You never know what celebs you may see.
Stella McCartney, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen and DVF are just a few that have taken up residence in the Meatpacking District. It may actually be the most glamorous neighborhood in Manhattan. If not, it's definitely top 3. The boutique situation here is everything; though amazing boutiques are to New York what Starbucks are to… well, New York. They're everywhere.
Speaking of boutiques, the west side of Bleaker St in Greenwich Village is the place to go if you're looking to stumble into random stores and find dresses that you never knew you needed. The best thing is finding a store that you weren't looking for and falling in love. Those little secret spots are what can set you style apart from the crowd.
If you're into channeling your inner Vanessa Hudgens at Coachella, St. Mark's Place is your new best friend. 8th St between 3rd Ave and Avenue A is the boho center of New York and east of 9th St you'll find all of the vintage stores and thrift shops that your heart desires. Happy shopping, ladies.