Bwog on a Budget: Fashion Finance

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Bwog on a Budget, your wallet-friendly guide to living in the city returns this week, with a fall shopping guide for discount points of destination in and around the city.

Discount Department Stores

Don’t let the promises of Dolce and Gabana and Manolos fool you.  Invariably, you will search through piles of strewn polyester before you find any of the aforementioned treasures. Caveat emptor: low ceilings, dim lighting, and checkered linoleum floors induce migraines.

  • Century 21 On a good day you might find some Betsey Johnson or Diane Von Furstenberg styles from last season for cheap.  Any other day you’ll just find very long lines and very small communal dressing rooms.  22 Cortland St. at Broadway
  • Filene’s Basement There is never a good day at Filene’s.  Its only appeal is its proximity to the 79th St. 1 stop. 2222 Broadway at 79th St. 
  • Loehmann’s Discount Department Store. Located on Broadway and 73rd St., Loehmann’s is a bit farther from campus than Filene’s is, but the additional travel is worth it. With better lighting and wider aisles, Loehmann’s is the most palatable of all discount department stores. 2101 Broadway at 73rd St. 
  • Barneys Warehouse You’d think that because it’s Barneys, the shopping here would be a cut above the rest, but don’t let the store’s clout fool you. The semi-annual sales require inhuman stamina, and while half-off on a pair of Miu Miu pumps sounds like a bargain, keep the original $900 dollar price tag in mind.  255 W. 17th St. Between 7th and 8th Avenues.

Flea Markets: Bring back bartering! That’s the M.O. at most of the city’s outdoor flea markets.  Although there are many used/vintage clothing markets throughout the city, Brooklyn’s flea markets tend to be less picked-over and, given the open air setting, also tend to be less claustrophobic and more manageable than most the discount department stores mentioned above.

  • Park Slope Flea Market.  Every Saturday and Sunday caravans arrive filled with absurd tchotckes, inordinate amounts of used costume jewelry, and Americana-inspired styles. And for girls who’ve yet to get their ears pierced, the vendors at the Park Slope Flea Market offer an alternative to the generic clip-on selection at Claire’s Accessories for about the same cost.  PS 321 School Yard 7th Avenue between 1st and 2nd Sts
  • Brooklyn Flea.  Although it only occurs on Sundays, the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene is nearly triple the size of the Park Slope Flea Market. Each week over 150 vendors sell vintage clothing, jewelry and collectibles in addition to a smattering of local artisans’ work.  Bring your shopping cart and be prepared to haggle.  A little gumption will get you far. Bishop Laughlin Memorial High School at Lafayette Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves

  • Salvation Army

    When shopping at the Salvation Army and other New York City thrift stores, it’s important to remember that these places are meant to provide affordable clothing to people who actually need it, not just cheap college kids looking for funky throwbacks.  So if you feel slightly out of place shopping here, it’s okay, you probably should.
  • 96th Street Salvation Army There are many Salvation Army outposts around the city and it’s difficult to distinguish one from another, but this one is relatively quiet and accessible to Columbia students.  There is also one on 125th St. between Fifth and Madison Avenues, but its central location makes it a busier and more picked-over venue to shop at than its 96th St. counterpart.  268 96th St at Broadway

Used Clothing Stores

The difference between used clothing stores, thrift shops, secondhand clothing stores and vintage shops is nebulous.  To avoid spending lots of money, stay away from the vintage shops. Embrace these used clothing/thrift shops/second hand stores instead.

  • Beacon’s Closet Think of Beacon’s Closet as the Gap of New York’s used clothing shops. With reasonable prices and reasonable styles, it has something for everyone, from faded polos to classy Ray Ban knock-offs.  Interspersed amongst it all are often some second-hand treasures. Also their buy, sell, and trade policy is pretty sweet. 88 N. 11th St Williamsburg; 220 5th Ave Park Slope

  • Buffalo Exchange Like Beacon’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange also offers a buy, sell, and trade clothing policy, but the prices are consistently lower.  The collection of clothing here is broader than at Beacon’s, and for that reason can be more difficult to sift through.  Due to its Brooklyn locale, Greenpoint, Buffalo avoids the overwhelming herds of bridge and tunnel types, which is a good thing. 504 Driggs Ave between 9th and 10th Sts, Williamsburg 
  • Housing Works Housing Works is a not-for-profit organization that uses the revenue it makes from its various thrift stores to provide clothing, employment and housing for people living with AIDS. Although there are many locations around the city, including a bunch close to Morningside Heights, in terms of selection and organization, the one in the West Village is by far the best. It is small and almost boutique-like in style.  The collection varies from fun spins on practical basics, to higher end collectible fare. Depending on what you’re in the market for, the final receipt will vary.  But not to worry if the bill seems higher than what you’re used to paying at thrift shops, you’re probably purchasing something distinctive and you’re definitely supporting a good cause; 225 W 10th between Bleecker and Hudson Sts
  • No Relation Vintage The East Village is littered with secondhand stores, but No Relation stands out.  It is far larger in scale than most used clothing stores and the collection consistently emphasizes fun, but not kitschy, men’s pieces over the frilly women’s clothing that often clutters used clothing stores. But given the range of styles and sizes, ladies will have an easy time finding stuff for themselves on the men’s racks. Despite its claims to vintage notoriety, the prices remain in the secondhand ball park.  204 1st Ave between 12th and 13th Sts

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  1. oh, bwog

    caveat emptor: (not cave emptor,)
    the barneys graf contains a run-on.
    "markets throughout he city"
    throwback is one word.
    second-hand is a hyphenate (or one word: secondhand).
    "in the flesh and blood" is a mixed metaphor.
    AIDS is not the plural of AID.
    "ladies will have any easy time finding stuff..."

  2. Hey Bwog  

    Think you can post a reminder as to when the next Barney's sale will be?

  3. takeoutbox  

    where's brunch with bwog???

  4. asdf

    "Due to its deep Brooklyn locale, Greenpoint, Buffalo avoids the overwhelming herds of bridge and tunnel types which is a good thing."

    Its "deep Brooklyn locale"?! It's three blocks away from the Bedford Ave. L stop, which is the *first* stop in Brooklyn.

    Just sayin'.

  5. kudos  

    This series is great. Thanks, Bwog.

  6. dbots

    great, now everything in my size will be impossible to find. thanks, bwog!

  7. century 21  

    just re-did all of their dressing rooms - they are TONS on the third floor for women and they are individual stalls, plus that place never disappoints

  8. GXC

    GoCrossCampus, the free online Risk-based game, is back with the 2nd Ivy League Tournament. Join Team Columbia and defend Alma Mater!

  9. smelly

    a lot of these thrift shops are full of old smelly clothes. the lower east side around 7th st. between B and 3rd has good, used designer stuff for cheap.

  10. thriftlover  

    also check out the monk thrift stores in the east village/alphabet city. there are several locations and their (sometimes) designer clothes are very reasonably priced.

  11. LOVE century 21!

    Seriously. Just went there today - 3 hours and I walked out a very happy girl with $800 worth of fall clothes for only $300. Really, you can't beat that.

  12. filene's  

    really can have some great jeans!

  13. beware!

    Bedbugs, people. Remember the bedbugs. If you want to take the risk (and expose all of your neighbors to the risk, too), remember to double bag everything and wash it with hot water before you wear it or even bring it to your room.

    Bedbugs don't kill... but your roommates might if you bring bedbugs in.

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