Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Glamour of New York (In 10 Easy Lessons)

Rule No 1: Wear good shoes. 
Unlike their Parisian cousins who prefer flats, New York woman are serious heel girls. They prefer their shoes like their architecture: high-rise and dripping with glamour. The only flats around here are those packed for the beaches in the Hamptons.
(NB No, I don't know how they do it, either. One day in this pair and I was ready for a week with my feet up. I don't think I'd make a very good New York girl...)

Rule No. 2: Take your fashion as seriously as your shoes. 
New York women know their brands like the back of their manicured hands. Some of them know them so well, they can discern a fake Chanel from a real one at 90 paces. Yesterday a woman recognised my lipstick as being a MAC one. How do they do it? Beats me. There are obviously night schools. (This sign was the fist thing that tipped me off.)

Rule No. 3: Buy a dog. 
Thousands of New Yorkers have dogs. They love them. Love them! They even buy cute doggy outfits for them from cute doggy shops. This one matched the owner's handbag. Even the royal blue harness matched the owner's blue dress. I couldn't help but be impressed.

This owner had also matched his hat to his dog. I tell you, New Yorkers are a co-ordinated bunch.

Rule No. 4: Never pay retail.
I figured this out fashion trick halfway through last week. I couldn't work out why so many SoHo girls were parading around in high-end designer clobber, and then I found an entire annexe of second-hand stalls that sold gorgeous vintage clothes and jewellery – from Chanel to Dior – for gob-smackingly low prices. There was one stall that sold authentic Chanel necklaces from $500 (complete with boxes and certificates). Incredible. There are also lots of ongoing sales in New York. I nipped into the Armani one and found frocks for $300 – one-fifth the normal Australian price. (Most sales can be found in the weekly Time Out magazine.) I believe that even Parisian women would be impressed by the New Yorker's ability to sniff out a sartorial bargain. (No mum, I didn't buy anything!)

Rule No. 5: Shop where the pros shop.
On Thursday, I discovered this place: the D&D Building at 979 Third Avenue. I thought I'd hit the Design Jackpot. Spread over multiple floors are showrooms for all the big interior design and decorative home furnishing brands. I spent an hour in Kravat showroom alone. This was the Windsor Smith display. Beautiful.

Rule No. 6: Ensure your bathroom (and other living spaces) are as glam as your wardrobe.
This was a tile shop I stumbled across near Gramercy Park. Look at this tile design. Have you ever seen a more gorgeous mosaic? I would have bought it, but we don't quite have the luxury 5-star-style ensuite to put it in. 

 Here are some more from the same showroom. There were hundreds of these stylish designs. Why can't Australia have these ranges?

Rule No. 7: Do your food shopping at the Union Square Markets
This seems to be where all the truly glam New Yorkers (or at least from Downtown) buy their fresh, farmer-grown produce. There were beautifully rustic stalls featuring just-plucked vegies on hessian blankets, and delicious drinks from witty stands such as this (above). Think Collingwood Children's Farm Farmer's Market, but with five times the number of people.

Rule No. 8: Book a hotel for a glam night out, but only do it on Sunday night
If you want to experience real New York glamour, then check into one of the city's famous hotels, such as the Gramercy Park Hotel, the Empire, or the Nomad. But here's a little tip: Do it Sunday nights, when the prices drop considerably. Friday and Saturday nights are also reasonable. I paid just $200 for a night at Morgan's on Madison, and got upgraded to a suite.

Rule No. 9: If it rains, be ready with the wellies.
I saw so many New Yorkers walking around in designer wellies, I thought they were filming an ad for Hunters. Women wore them with Prada frocks, men wore them with tailored trousers, I even saw six doormen wearing them as part of their rainy-day uniform at a certain upscale hotel. Then I saw these yellow cab numbers. Aren't they cute? Imagine a little kid wearing them in Central Park? I loved them. Just loved them.

Rule No. 10: Inspiration is everywhere.
You don't need to be rich to have style in New York. There are so many stores selling replicas of the high-end collections that you can easily dress like a catwalk model for a few dollars. This was a window display in Bergdorf Goodman. I saw a similar dress in Gap for $10!


  1. Oh Janelle, I am hyperventilating! Will I ever want to come home from NYC? A-M xx

  2. Janelle, Thanks for the great tips! I especially love the one about not paying retail! There are so many seond hand and consignment shops out there. No reason to pay the high price.!

  3. Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Glamour of New York (In 10 Easy Lessons)":

    Dear Helena
    Was very surprised by your post referring to "natives" and "indigenous" as I can't see what you're referring to in Janelle's latest post. Perhaps it's a mistake?

    The serious problems of indigenous communities are very difficult to resolve and require and deserve serious attention and productive action. It is clearly something you're very passionate about, and understandably so. But this isn't the forum to address such issues and an attack on Janelle's blog isn't the way to go to attract support. Many people are seriously concerned about issues of third world poverty, violence, indigenous health and social issues but we don't all advertise what we do in our own ways to help overcome or at least ameliorate them.
    Many of us also enjoy some of the lighter sides of life: travel, fashion, style etc, as a break from the serious things we all have to face in our own private daily lives. It doesn't make us bad people because we enjoy these things. And you don't know what any of us do about the problems you're concerned about, so although your concerns are passionate and understandable, please don't rush in to judge people and please avoid using such hurtful direct comments. It doesn't help your cause and it's very upsetting to see such an unwarranted and unnecessary vituperative attack. Pamela

  4. Hi lovely readers, Have just arrived at Sydney airport after the exhausting 19-hour flight(s) from New York and have opened my mail to find a few interesting comments (!) I suspect I know who the vitriolic attack is from but I am too much of a lady (unlike the person who wrote the comment) to reveal it here. And even if it isn't this person, well who has time for such ill-mannered idiots anyway? I met one in Brooklyn this week - two actually - and I learned that the best thing to do - certainly the most polite and civil thing - is simply ignore them and walk away. Thank you for your support. Sadly, I don't have time to respond as need to board yet another plane, but just wanted to say thank you. And apologise, in case I inadvertently offended this person. Janelle

  5. NYC is one for my favorite places in the world and the tip on not paying retail is a great one. It's a challenge to find the best clothing and restaurants in New York, but well worth the effort. Thrilled to find and follow your beautiful blog!


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