If you love to shop in small boutiques rather than department stores, head to East 9th Street, between First and Second Avenues, in the East Village. This one block boasts more than a dozen stores, many with one-of-a-kind designs by up-and-coming designers. You will feel like you are on a treasure hunt as you explore what each store has to offer. During our shopping spree, we were impressed with those working in these boutiques. They were friendly, full of information about individual designers and their clothes, and helpful without being pushy.
One word of advice: Things get started late in the East Village, so these stores open after noon. If you arrive earlier, you may want to fuel up for your marathon shopping event. (We suggest Max Brenner for food and chocolate, an upbeatable combination. See our review in “Dining Around”). Map out your own route, up one side, down the other. Or, if you prefer, zig-zagging as you go. No matter how you proceed, you will find that special something for that special event. We are already planning our return visit. You will, too.
South Side of East 9th Street, between First and Second Avenues
314 East 9th Street
Amy Sedaris reportedly loves this store and we can see why. Proprietor Delanee Koppersmith fills her store with beautiful vintage clothing and accessories. Everything is laid out in appealing displays, encouraging you to look, touch, try on and fall in love. We spied vintage dress patterns from Simplicity that brought back memories of sewing class. There are wonderful straw hats to deflect the sun and attract attention. Shoes galore! And once you buy the shoes, you just have to find the perfect dress. You’ll find it here.
318 East 9th Street
Buyer Wendy Chun has a great eye. The items she selects from New York and Asia from youthful Japanese and Korean designers are feminine and flattering. The shop is narrow, with long racks on each side. Many items are on sale and are sprinkled throughout the stock, so look carefully. The fabrics are soft to the touch, drape beautifully, yet hold their shape. And don’t dismiss something until you try it on. One blouse that looked so-so on the hanger, looked smashing when worn. Sale!
324 East 9th Street
We loved this store! The clothing is simple yet elegant, suitable for a variety of occasions. A pleated top could be worn with a pair of jean (like Halle Berry was shown doing in People magazine), or dressed up with a silk skirt for dinner at a fancy restaurant. What we liked was that the design played up our best features while downplaying what we would like downplayed. How can you miss with that? Some items are pricey, but many are on sale. A good time to visit.
328 East 9th Street
You will swoon at the eclectic mix in Local Clothing. There’s lots new, including designers like Ferragamo and Louis Vuitton, but lots vintage, too. Unlike some vintage stores, where you have to plow through piles of old clothing to find something worth salvaging, Local Clothing’s offerings are wonderfully displayed and in excellent condition. Plan to find rich fabrics and expert construction. The owner is an F.I.T. grad who knows his stuff. You will profit from his knowledge.
332 Ninth Street
De Verteuil, who designed accessories for Yves St. Laurent in the trendy 80s, is the mastermind behind this boutique. An F.I.T. graduate and now a professor at Parsons School of Design, her jewelry is show-stopping and (surprise!) affordable. Check out her beautiful silver pieces and you won’t be able to leave without purchasing one. The clothing in the store includes dresses in fabulous prints and clingy fabrics. See something you like but not in your size? You can have it made up to your specifications. How’s that for service?
334 East 9th Street
Need to replace a button? Looking for special buttons for that hand knit sweater? If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist. Archangel Antiques has 2.5 million buttons! Corporations often had them made for special garments, so you may be able to find a gift for that special person that will be meaningful. Besides buttons, this shop has an array of cuff links, antique jewelry, purses, and clothing. Owner Michael Duggan gave us a tour and we just had to purchase a gorgeous vintage necklace.
North Side of East 9th Street, between First and Second Avenues
335 East 9th Street
In How to Marry a Millionaire, Marilyn Monroe avoided wearing glasses saying, “Men don’t make passes at those who wear glasses.” She was wrong, of course. And if you would like to find the glasses Marilyn wore in that movie, head to Fabulous Fanny’s where you will find an incredible selection of vintage eyewear. The store’s motto is: “If you have to wear them, make it fun…” This place will help you do that. Not looking for glasses? Don’t worry. This store also stocks vintage jewelry, purses, hats (including lots for men), and clothing.
333 East 9th Street
This boutique has the perfect mix of vintage, consignment, overstocks, and new clothing. Whatever you are looking for, chances are you will find it here. The vintage and consignment items are in such good condition it’s hard to tell them from the new product. We found a wonderful long silk skirt in bright summer colors, perfect for anything from a casual lunch to an elegant dinner. And at $40, a real steal. Our salesperson was helpful without being intrusive, suggesting other items that we might like. We did. The store is dog friendly, although we came without a dog. The owner named the store after her dog, Cadillac.
315 East 9th Street
Designer Janice Huminska believes that “fit is everything,” and she proves it with the dresses she has in her boutique. Made from poly-lycra silk, the dresses are form-fitting but with enough give to offer forgiveness. The patterns are colorful and appealing, some resembling watercolors, others graphic designs. Whether you need a special dress for the office or something to wear to a summer wedding, this shop will have something to fit you and your budget.
315 East 9th Street
This designer believes buttons should do more than just serve as closure. They should make a statement. The oversized buttons that define An Ren’s clothing accentuate the design, kicking it up a notch. Besides the buttons, we loved the fabrics she selects, a combination of rayon and cotton that are soft to the touch and sensuous. A black and white coat with large black buttons and touches of red could be worn over anything from jeans to that simple black dress. Her finishing touches, the inside seams are covered and will not ravel, add to the value of each garment. These are items to buy and keep forever.
307 East 9th Street
This is a store that Carrie Bradshaw would love. It’s young, hip and perfect for showing off a slim silhouette and great legs. The dresses are adorable and fit this season’s trend towards short, short, short. Patterns are playful and appealing. For those who shy away from tiny frocks, you can still find stylish tops to show off your Michelle Obama-like arms.
305 East 9th Street
Elaine Arsenault’s handbags have built up a loyal following. Elaine herself can often be found in the store since her workshop is in the back. Have a question, comment? No need to e-mail. Ask her yourself. Her purses are perfect for any occasion. Made in a variety of colors and fabrics, her large purses are perfect for work and daytime, even for carrying a computer, while her small ones dress up an outfit for that evening on the town. What we like about her small purses: they assume women want to carry more than a lipstick when going out. They are roomy without being bulky. Need more room? Check out her totes. We all have baggage. Elaine gives us a stylish way to carry around what we need.