Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.
Who: Linda Sittig (the author) of Purcellville, Va., and her twin daughters, Jamie Schwedler of Raleigh, N.C., and Jennie Blumenthal of Washington
Where, when, why: We attended the New York City sample sales over the weekend of Nov. 8-10, 2013. My parents moved out of Greenwich Village when I was 5, and I wanted my daughters to connect with the city of my birth by sharing a shopping trip with me.
Highlights and high points: The true highlight of shopping in New York is to snag incredible deals on trendy pieces of clothing, hopefully for a fraction of the original price. As soon as we’d checked into our hotel on Friday afternoon, we dropped our suitcases and left to scope out the newest retail fashions near the Garment District. Then on Saturday, we left our hotel early, grabbed bagels and coffee on the street, and walked to the Chelsea Market at Ninth Avenue and 16th Street for the first sample sale, this one featuring Rachel Zoe designs. An hour later, we lunched at the Market and then headed to Greenwich Village for our second sale. Sixty minutes zoomed by, and with additional purchases stashed in our bags, I wandered into a shoe boutique on Bleecker Street called Toosh and found the perfect pair of boots. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking through Greenwich Village and SoHo, buying from street vendors and visiting every sample sale we could find.
After dinner at August, a wonderful small neighborhood restaurant on Bleecker, we ventured back to Chelsea for the Gilt + Infiniti Warehouse Sale on 19th Street. This was more than just a sample sale; this was an event. Rack upon rack of fashions to impress any Cinderella crisscrossed the main room, while rows of designer shoes beckoned to us from the sidelines. We had to inspect the clothing carefully, as some pieces were damaged and others were stained, but everything was offered at slashed prices. Hanger after hanger of Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Alice + Olivia, La Perla, Zac Posen and Bally dazzled our senses. Two hours later, loaded down with full shopping bags and refreshed by some complimentary wine, we headed back to our hotel on tired feet, but giddy with success.
Cultural connection or disconnect: Before the Civil War, American women made their own clothes or hired seamstresses. But by the 1860s, department stores had begun to offer ready-made clothing. Around the turn of the century, the famous “ladies’ mile” district ran from roughly 14th Street to 23rd Street between Park Avenue South and Sixth Avenue. There, the notable department stores specialized in fashionable clothes for the entire family. I like to think that those old grand dames were the ancestors of the sample sales, and it felt as if we were participating in a bit of the city’s textile heritage.
Biggest laugh or cry: On our last morning, we went into the Little Church Around the Corner on East 29th Street, where my parents had been married 72 years ago. Standing in the aisle, looking up at the altar, I tried to envision my mother as a young bride on the cusp of World War II. Suddenly tears slid down my cheeks. In the church’s hushed interior, I experienced an unexpected connection back to her.
How unexpected: We happened to be browsing among some of the street wares in the Village when Meg Ryan walked up right next to us, shopping with her young daughter. The funny thing is, in New York, celebrities can meander by at any moment and no one even stares. Well, I did.
Fondest memento or memory: The clothes we bought were fun, as was being part of the exciting New York shopping scene. But the greatest gift was sharing the city where I was born with my daughters. On the last day, as the train pulled away, I looked back at the skyline and whispered: “I came back, Mom. And I brought my daughters with me.”
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