Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy New Year!

We enjoyed the snow immensely but we thought it would be prudent to get out of town before the streets get to slushy. We are very excited to say good-bye to the frozen piles of white ice and hello to frozen white daiquiris.



Au revoir 2010, bonjour 2011!

YSL Second Markdown

Yves Saint Laurent has taken an additional price cut on the fall and winter collection. The discount is now 50% off. There is a nice selection of bags, shoes and clothing. If you're snowed in, you can check YSL.com where there are also a few sale items.



We were really interested in snagging one of those bright colored plastic purses, but of course, they didn't get marked down. Another option is this fabulous leather shoulder bag that was $1595 and is now checking out at $795. Pink Trib sandals are reduced from $760 to $459. We also found a few color variations of the classic muse discounted.

The Gucci and YSL discounts are usually timed pretty close to one another. So we wouldn't be surprised to hear of a double discount on the double-Gs very soon.

Everest 212-980-2970

Monday, December 27, 2010

Isaac Mizrahi on Cooking, Eating and Entertaining

When the snow keeps you captured at home, there are only a few things to occupy your time. There's always blessed sleep, but you have to roll out of bed at some point. Then there is eating but to get the good stuff, you have to cook.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper is one of our favorite culinary experts. Her podcast, The Splendid Table, is as comforting as a molten lava chocolate cake. It's cooking made simple, non-judgemental and always delicious. In a recent episode, our favorite fashion persona, Isaac Mizrahi is interviewed about holiday tips.

After a hard day's work, Isaac feeds himself with lots of wine in order to save up Weightwatchers points for when the real holiday festivities begin. This year, the in party food was not full course meals, according to Isaac, but heavy hors d'oeuvres and desserts or dinner by the bite.



"I say good-bye to dinner. I love the hors d'oeuvre with the drink. And I love the dessert. Who needs a roast?" Isaac exclaims. It's the perfect way to keep your cloths closing. Truth is, we all know that's what really matters.

In the interview, Isaac also gives advice on making his toile cookie gifts, but it's his creative table setting suggestions that got us thinking, dah-ling. "I do newspaper instead of a table cloth and then lay glassware on top of that. I think if you get bored you can read through your plate." he says. "If you are at a really boring dinner-- I hope it's not mine-- you can read headlines or editorials."

Personally, we love the idea, but are concerned about newspaper print mixing with our food, or clothing. Do you think a clear table cloth should go on top or are we over thinking this one? An all white table setting is akin to the little black dress and is a timeless alternative.

When you are done shopping online, we urge you to listen to the Isaac's homemaking tips and continue on to hear Nigella Lawson speak about her favorite cookbooks. (She is truly a domestic goddess.) One podcast and we promise you will be hooked on LRK (Lynne Rossetto Kasper) as hard as you are on a JPG Birkin. It really doesn't get any better.

Reed Krakoff 2nd Markdown

Reed Krakoff has started their second markdown on select handbags, ready-to-wear, footwear, small leather goods and accessories. The discount has gone from 40% to 60% off.



Although the brand's first shoe collection was great, we found it to be a bit expensive. We say buy-pass the shoes and overpriced Coach handbags and take time examining the very well finished and stylish ready-to-wear. The collection was both chic and well priced.

Manny: 212-988-0560

Alexis Bittar 50% Off

Alexis Bittar has started their semi-annual sale. Jewels of all type and luster are on sale for half-off. Those still snowbound, can do their shopping online.



There is problem. We are finding it very hard to choose which items to buy. This large hinge bangle, which is reduced to $262 from $525 is one option. How about these crystal hoop earrings that are now $82 from $165? How can you go wrong with an extra large domed ring, $127.50 from $255?

We're really not sure what to choose. We just warn you not to wonder out of the sale section. The selection there is already vast enough, more items just makes the purchase process more confusing!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

ABC Carpet & Home Winter Sale

We know you’ve been spending a lot of energy indulging almost everyone you know and their pets. Isn’t it about time you start thinking of yourself a bit and prepare for the frigid months ahead and your personal hibernation?

ABC Carpet & Home is the perfect destination to add warmth to your den. What’s even better is the three-day preview sale, which starts Monday, December 27. The discount will range from 20% to 80% off, which will add a bit of insulation to your wallet in addition to your home.

Hundreds of designer items such as Tom Dixon, John Reeves, Barbara Barry and Ralph Lauren are on the discount list. For example, you can expect to find Frette queen bedsets for $375 from $1,250, a Barbara Barry conversation sofa with handpicked fabric for $4999 from $8250 and a John Reeves Louis black night chest for $499 from $795.



To hibernate properly, you will have to keep your feet warm. And of course,
ABC Carpet & Home always has the best selection of rugs that can do just that. The rug and carpet discount ranges from 50% to 80%. The “one size, one price” special cannot be missed. For instance, 8x10 rugs normally range in price from $2999 to $5999 but will cost just $1499. In the 10x14 category, rugs will be marked down to $2499, which normally range from $3999 to $9999. Can you think of anything more luxurious than a 100% wool velvet Ralph Lauren carpet priced at $79.90-per-yard from $149?

In addition, many sale items will be available to purchase
online. The preview sale runs until Wednesday, December 29 but continues on for the general public until January 30th. We suggest shopping early to get the best picks. Then you can really belt out the lyrics … Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

ABC Carpet & Home Winter Sale
Preview sale: Monday, December 27 until Wednesday, December 29
Sale: December 30 through January 30
Mon, Tues, Weds, Fri 10-7, Thur 10-8, Sat 11-7, Sun 12-6:00
888 Broadway @ 19th Street (
Click here to see more locations)

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Post-Christmas Online Sales

We originally planed to write a long story about the best post-Christmas shopping destinations but we know that walking three blocks in this blizzard is more adventure than most people need. So, for the sake of sensibility (which is totally out of character) we are going to break down the best online sales. Please let us know if we missed any goodies!

Saks: So you thought that the sales of 2008 would never occur again? Well, think again. As a post-Christmas promotion, Saks discounted a wide assortment of items to 70% off. One customer reported snagging a pair of $2500 Louboutin thigh-high boots for just $800. Moncler jackets at 40% off were being picked like organic tomatoes. The additional discounts were only valid until noon today in stores but continues online until midnight Sunday.

Barneys: The selection might be great at Barneys but the shopping experience is almost always horrible. Snow or no snow, online seems to work out best, especially right now. The discount appears to be up to 70% off and there are great selections from Lanvin, Proenza and Fendi. Miu Miu bow flats for $199 seem like a very reasonable price. We know that shoes are always the first click but don't overlook the clothing. There are some truly amazing pieces.

Net-a-Porter: We would normally endorse a full-on shopping spree but prices haven't been cut much further since the 50% off post-Thanksgiving sale. For browsing purposes, always sort by discount and keep an eye on the farther reductions tab.

Bergdorfgoodman: The online discount is 60% off and we were surprised to find that some items were less expensive on BG.com than NeiemanMarcus.com. Check out these Alexandre Birman python heels for $299 from $750. There's also a nice assortment of discount Lanvin an Jason Wu clothing still available.

Victoria's Secret: Yeah, we know we may be browsing outside our tony neighborhood but nothing seems more sensible than comfort right now. That can only mean one thing: new sleepwear. We especially like these thermal cotton PJs, which are $30 from $50.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christian Lacroix 80% Off

The 57th Street Christian Lacriox store is running a sale where discounts range from 50% to 80% off. No, this isn't one of those sales where everything you pick up is several thousand dollars and still has a four-digit price tag after the discount.

Most ready-to-wear is 60% off and select gowns are 70% to 80% off. Most jewelry, shoes and handbags are 60% off. Take a look out for one accessory case in particular, the discount is 70%.



It seems as if the selection is starting to run low but there are still some wonderful pieces like a 5-inch wide embossed croc belt, edgy floral dresses (no, it's not an oxymoron) and eye catching rhinestone shoes.

Despite the fact that Lacriox reported a profit this summer, we didn't see any incoming merchandise. We hope that new shipments are coming soon and our worst suspicions are wrong.

Hubert: 212-753-2569

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pre-Christmas Shopping in Meatpacking

We are combing the city looking for the best deals. While there are only three shopping days left until Christmas, we know you need to keep to a budget. We’re telling you what discount to expect before you get to the store. So far, we’ve covered Madison Avenue, the department stores, Fifth Ave/57th Street and now we're heading down to the Meatpacking district.

Adam: The fall collection is 40% and prefall is 65% off. There are only two racks of prefall merchandise but there are still four racks of clothing from the fall collection. Unfortunately, holiday and resort are not on sale.
Maya 212-229-2838



Alexander McQueen: The markdown is a reasonable 60%. Bags and shoes are running low but there is still a great selection of clothing from which to choose. We suggest shopping online to get an idea of what you like but then going to the store. The boutiques have a lot more inventory and a much better assortment.
Mosell 212-645-1797

Catherine Malandrino: The prefall collection is 60% off and fall is 40%. There is a wide assortment of dresses from the runway collection, which are included in the sale. There are still lots of sizes available but 0s and 2s are starting to run low.
Janette 212-929-8710

DVF: The fall season is discounted 30%, plus an additional 20% for a total of about 45% off. Smart shoppers hit the sample sale where prices were 50% to 75% off. If sample sales aren't you're thing you can still hold out for the final markdown, which is about 70%.
Ashley 646-486-4800

Jeffery NYC: Jeffery cut prices 40% on winter merchandise just last week. It's going to be another week or two until another markdown is made. Shoes are always the fastest to sell at Jeffery. There are a few styles of Lanvin and Chanel shoes that are included in the markdown but most were sold out before sale season even started. You're likely to have much better luck in the clothing section where there is still a great assortment of designers and sizes available.
Michelle 212-206-1272

Matthew Williamson: Everything is so much more colorful downtown but few designers are brighter than Matthew Williamson. The discount just dropped to 60% off and there are still a lot of great items available. There is word of a friends and family sale but we are told that wouldn't be until February. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
Stephanie 212-255-9881



Moschino: There is still quite a bit of merchandise left over from Cheap & Chic and Moschino's main collection even thought the discount is 60% off. The inventory for men is almost all cleared out but women looking for great looking coats are in for a jolly holiday.
Justin 212-243-8600

Ports 1961: The markdown is still only 30% off but last weekend there was a promotion where coats and sweaters were 50% off. We are told that the coat and sweater deal will still be honored but we aren't sure for how long. We suggest holding out for friends and family, which usually entices customers with a 70% off discount sometime in January.
Heidi 917-475-1022

Stella McCartney: The fall/winter collection is 60% off, which is considerably better than the 40% to 50% markdown from last Christmas. Unfortunately, there is less merchandise this year. As usual, Adidas merchandise is not on sale but there are plenty of knits, trousers and blouses. Most of the coats that made it to discount season are already gone.
Jason 212-255-1556

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pre-Christmas Sales on 5th Ave and Across 57th St

We are in the Christmas shopping home stretch. We have briefed you on happenings along Madison Avenue and in our local department stores. Today, we bring you a recapitulation of the markdowns along Fifth Avenue and across 57th Street.

Bottega Veneta: The first markdown started earlier this month. Shoes and clothing are discounted 30% to 40%. (Last year the discount was 50%?!) If you're trying to find a bag on sale, we suggest you hit a department store our the outlet. The boutique doesn't mark down bags, at least to mere mortals.
Angeline: 212-371-5511

Dior: No sale. No sale. No Sale. We hear, however, that the Woodbury outlet has received the fall and winter collection and the discount is 30% off. At the same time last year, the discount at the Dior boutique was 40% and 50% off on ready-to-wear.
Jenny: 212-249-5822

Emilio Pucci: There is still a great selection of Pucci sale merchandise. Most clothing, shoes and bags are now 40% off. Unfortunately, ski attire isn't on sale. If you find an item that isn't on sale a manager might be able to assist, if you know what I mean.
Marcia: 212 230-1135

Ferragamo: Men's and women's shoes, clothing and select bags are 35% off. We hear that inventory is starting to run low. We say wait for after Christmas. Prices here usually get very good towards January/ February.
Sal: 212-759-3822

Miu Miu: The discount on clothes, shoes and bags is just 30%. Last year, the sale was much better at a 50% discount. What's worse is that there is barely any inventory and there wasn't even a presale!
Judith 212-249-9660


Norma Kamali: On Wednesday, select items will be marked down up to 85% including swim styles, terry, poly jersey, sleeping bag coats. Camo sleeping bag coat styles will be available at 50% off.
212-957-9797

Yves Saint Laurent: The discount is just 30% to 40% off, depending on the item. The 57th Street location still has lots of merchandise. Other boutiques are expected to transfer their merchandise to this NYC flagship, which should translate into super discounts come January/Feb.
Everest 212-980-2970

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pre-Christmas Department Store Overview

Christmas is just six days away and the ca-ching of cash registers is going strong. Although boutique sales seem to be stronger than past years, it's the department stores that are truly signing jolly tunes. Unfortunately, a retailer's cheer is often associated with the discount shoppers lament.

This season, we are seeing slower markdowns and less items on the discount list. Have no fear, there are still sales from which to take advantage. Here is a rundown of the current department store landscape. We will be sure to update you as sale news occurs.

Barneys: A second markdown started just this week. Many designer items are now 60% off regular prices. Prices online still seem to be stuck at 40% off. As usual, we suggest shopping in person or calling the store to get the best deal.

Bergdorf Goodman: The discount is still just 30% off. Historically, Bergdorf's is the last and slowest to markdown their merchandise. The upshot is that they have the most inventory at the tail of the season. We will keep our eyes open as prices get adjusted.

Bloomingdales: It seems as if Bloomingdales is always running a sale. Keeping up with all the discounts is sometimes the most difficult part. Bloomies took their first markdown around Thanksgiving and has been adding extra incentives since. Sale items and clearance are now an additional 40% off and if you use your Bloomingdales card you will get an extra 15% off. Total savings is about 65% on many items.

Saks: The designer sale started on December 7 with a 30% discount on shoes and items for men. Women's clothing was 40% off. Although the discount isn't stellar, there is a nice assortment of discount Chanel shoes. Of all the department stores, Saks is usually the most aggressive with its markdowns. The slowdown in reductions is likely a good sign for shareholders.

Gift Idea: Zara Bag

Sometimes we fall guilty in getting caught up with the newest trend or trying to run so far ahead of the curve that we end up with some very bazar purchases. There is never time for buyers remorse but there is always something to buy to make up for the miscalculation.

This season, I made the mistake of spending way too much money on a bag that was a bit too trendy and too heavy to carry. Frankly, a purse is meant to carry a few key belongings not to build muscle in your forearm. It only occurred to me that I made apurchase mistake when I subconsciously found myself abandoning my purse at a local Gap. My next mission was to find a practical and inexpensive replacement.



Unexpectedly, this Zara bag appeared as if a message from the gods of practicality. It's just $109.90 and light! It has a stylish look that could be related to the Givanchy bag collection or maybe Balenciaga. Who knows? The bottom line is that the leather is very nice and did I mention it's light? Just be mindful that this particular bag can only be found at the Zara on 59th Street & Lexington Avenue.

We call this the perfect item for the sometimes impractical woman you love. Click here to see our growing list of gift ideas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Temperley Lowers Sale Prices

We just received word that prices have been reduced at the Temperley London sample sale. Most items are now between 75% and 80% off. Shoppers say there is still a nice assortment of sweaters and sweater dresses. So perfect for weather like this.



Although we greatly appreciate Target reissuing designs from some of their most successful collaborations, we prefer to stick to the real thing. Especially when the price is 80% off. Real wool is so much better than a poly-blend.

Friday is the last day. Don't delay!

Temperley London
Friday, December 17
Fri 11am to 7pm
453 Broome Street, 2nd Floor

Gift Idea: Japanese Mooncakes

We're going to be blunt: bringing your hostess flowers is thoughtful but a huge pain. Who wants to worry about pulling a vase, cutting flowers and arranging them while your guests are arriving?A bottle of wine is thoughtful too but by the time guests arrive the host has likely taken care of buying spirits.

We think it is more considerate and creative to bring your host or hostess a small token of appreciation. A cookbook, chocolates or a small kitchen accessory is always a nice consideration. But the mooncakes from Japanese bakery, Minamoto Kitchoan is more like an ace up the sleeve.



This traditional confectionery is like the Tiffany's of Japanese sweet delicacies. Every item is painstaking assembled and handled like a rare gem. The bakery's speciality is wagashi, or handmade intricate sweets made with mochi, azuki red bean paste and fruit. These sweets are traditionally used at Japanese tea ceremonies but are just as cherished as a gift.

What's even better is that the store is located almost directly across the street from Saks Fifth Avenue! Shoes for me, mooncakes for you!

Minamoto Kitchoan
608 5th Avenue (The entrance is on 49th off of Fifth)
212-489-3747

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Diamond Values on the Rise

After years of hearing about lousy retail economics, it’s nice to finally report a rosy outlook. One of the most cheerful segments of the retail sectors seems to be the turnaround in the jewelry market.

The International Diamond Exchange or IDEX reports that demand for polished stones is increasing and there are even shortages among high demand stones.

As the consumer’s hunger of polished diamond increases, so do prices. Any good investor will tell you it’s better to cash out of an asset while the market is hot than to hold off for unknown future economics.



DivorceYourJewels.com is the perfect service to assist in navigating the tricky market of jewels and gems. The company has assisted 1000s of customers cash out of valuables without dealing with the questionable ethics of 47th Street or the huge fees of auction houses.

DivorceYourJewels.com is a full service company with a personal touch. Missy, the company’s founder, meets with every client personally –even at your home-- to review their needs and furnish them with gemological certification, if necessary.

If you’re not in the market to sell, you can check out the DivorceYourJewels.com online store to get great deals on designer jewelry and watches.

DivorceYourJewels.com
Missy Schorr
917-846-9999

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Madison Avenue Pre-Christmas Sales

We are a mere days from Christmas and the pressure is mounting. For the final countdown, we are going to canvas the city in order to find the best deals. Today we hit dozens of Madison Avenue women’s boutiques to form our most comprehensive sale round-up ever.

Carolina Herrera: Pre-fall and fall merchandise is 50% off. Our sizing is limited it's worth taking a look because the collection was particularly beautiful. Even if you don't find the perfect down you're likely to walk away with a valuable sweater or basic.
Michelle 212-249-6552

Chanel: The private sale started December 15 and the discount will is 40% off ready-to-wear, select shoes and accessories. There is a tiny selection of discount bags but the classics are not included.
Stephanie 212-535-5505

Chloe: The markdown started almost a month ago, so the availability of discount merchandise is a bit low. The discount is 40% and if you motivate your sales person, she may be able to track down exactly what you're looking for.
Incus: 212-717-8220

Christian Louboutin: The 40% off discount has been going on for more than two weeks. What’s left? “It all depends on size.” Sale items include select fall/winter shoes and fashion pieces.
Erich 212-396-1884

Dolce & Gabbana: The 40% markdown started December 1. Even so, the store is so big that you can always find an item to try on or explore. We expect the discount to go to 60% either right after Christmas. Keep your eyes open.
Rodney 212-249-4100

Gucci: Inventory is starting to run low, as Gucci as customers pick through the sale items. Ready-to-wear and shoes are 40% off, and bags are about 30% off. The Madison Avenue store is a bit low on merchandise, even though the discount isn't as good as usual. We suggest hitting the internet after browsing the boutique.
Maura 212-717-2619

Jil Sander: The ready-to-wear, shoes and bags are 40% off. We are told that most of the exciting pieces are already gone. You might have better luck in the shoe and bag department.
Jose 212-838-6100

Jimmy Choo: There’s still a good selection of boots, bags and shoes, which are still just 30% off. Sizes are also abundant. We think it's a good idea to hold out for the next markdown, if you can.
Faisa 212-759-7078

Lanvin:
The markdown is still just 30% off clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry and accessories. We are hoping for a second price cut, but we are told that other Lanvin boutiques never go below 30%. Now, that's a bummer!
Christopher 646-439-0381

Luca Luca: The discount is mainly 50% off with an abundant inventory of day dresses and luncheon wear. There is a small selection of evening gowns discounted to 50% but most are 30% or 40% off.
Solia 212-288-9285

Michael Kors: Fall and pre-fall clothing is marked down 50% and accessories are 40% off. There is still a large selection but some sizes are running thin-- so to speak. Customers who wear a size 2 through 8 will probably have the most luck in finding what they are looking for.
Tony 212-452-4685

Missoni: The is discounted 50% off but the nicest sweaters and knits are already sold out. Scarves were never included in the sale but that selection is running low too.
Paige 212-517-9339.

Oscar de la Renta: Dresses and gowns are 40% off and there are still plenty of knock-outs from which to choose. Sometimes it's hard to get past the dresses but don't overlook the shoes and jewelry, which are also 40% off.

Prada: This was the most disappointing sale season in ages, according to veteran customers and sales associates. The markdown was just 30% and there were only about 10 pair of shoes on sale. Everyone is very disappointed. There is one bright spot. We hear that the boutique just received a shipment of sale bags from Italy. We are on our way!
Betty 212-327-4200

Reed Krakoff: The Madison Avenue new-comer started their 40% off markdown last month but there is still a great variety of ready-to-wear and shoes. Bags sold pretty quickly but there are still a few styles from which to choose.
Manny: 212-988-0560

Sigerson Morrison: Markdowns are still in progress. Select items are 40% off. There is a wide selection of shoes, boots and handbags on sale. While shoe shopping, don't miss the Sigerson Morrison lambskin fur shawls ($1000) and hats by Mischa Lampert, which that range from $135 to $290.
Amelia 212-734-2100

Valentino: Expect to find a full assortment of ready-to-wear. The selection if sale bags is running thin but there is still a nice assortment of shoes. We suggest calling about sizes.
Robert 212-772-6969

Rodarte Sale Location Revealed

Yes, we know that rsvp-ing is a lot of commitment. So, as promised, we have your information about tomorrow's secret Rodarte sample sale. SpyMom confirms that this year's sale will once again take place at the chic Ace Hotel. Remember, credit cards are not accepted! Click here to read about the expected merchandise selection and pricing information.



Rodarte Sample Sale
Thurs., Dec. 16
9:30am to 6:30om
First come first serve
Ace Hotel
20 West 29th St. (b/w 5th and Broadway)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Versace Presale 50% Off

We have officially found the best markdown of the season-- thus far. Versace is currently preselling fall and winter collection at a 50% discount. The runway collection, shoes and bags are all included in the half-off markdown.

One has to wonder if the steep initial discount and rare inclusion of the runway collection is a sign of difficulties for the house of Versace. In prior years, the discount stated at 30% and then continued to 50%. During boom times, however, the Italian company decided to do away with discounts all together. The sight mall trolling teens with discount Versace was just too much.



Well, not any more. Teens, this is your chance to load up and hit the mall!

Contact: Gilles 212-317-0224

Giuseppe Zanotti 30% Off

MadSpy PSA: Giuseppe Zanotti drops prices to 50% off right before Christmas.

SALE

Giuseppe Zanotti Design Boutique

30% *off Original Prices

Fall/Winter 2010

*no adjustments to prior purchases, all sale items are final sale!

We look forward to your visit,

George

806 Madison AVE/68th ST

212 650 0455

Gift Idea: Dannijo Pile-On

I think we've mentioned how much we have been enjoying the less expensive thrills of fashion jewelry. One of our favorite designers for bold edgy pieces is Dannijo. There is just one problem. It doesn't seem as if one great piece is ever enough.



To really achieve a bold look you're going to want to employ the more-is-more philosophy. Stack a series of three or four smaller bracelets on one arm and a bold bangle on the other. Pair a glittery set of earrings with an eye-popping cocktail ring. If you're not sure of how this pile-up works, check out Melissa Meyers's Dannijo tutorial on PageDaily.com.

All you need to do is add some wild hair for drama and you are set to go -- even if you're wearing all black. A great selection of Dannijo can be found at Bergdorf Goodman, Net-a-Porter and on the Dannijo website.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dior: Straight to Outlets

Last month, we reported that the Dior boutique was moving from their Madison Avenue location to 57th. As a result, the entire sale season was in question. Today, we received word that Dior outlets have received a hefty shipment of fall shoes, accessories and clothing hot off the boutique racks.



The discount ranges from 30% to 40% off retail, which isn't very attractive for an outlet price. If you don't need an item right away, we suggest waiting for after Christmas. Outlets usually run amazing holiday discount sales that range from an extra 30% to 50% off.

Dior @ Woodbury Common
845-928-4602

Gift Idea: Fine Vintage

Our dance card has been filled with several wonderful holiday parties. Whether it's a magazine fette at a hot new venue or a networking event at a Fifth Avenue penthouse, you need to make the decision if you want to be noticed for your bold fashion choices or understated elegance.

On either occasion it's easy to make into cliche fashion choices. The most eye-popping looks are not the obvious choices like a Chanel clutch or Hermes JPG evening bag. When inspecting the fashion choices of other invited guests, we've really started to appreciate the unexpected.



Vintage and consignment stores are the best way to capture an accessory or accent that is unpredictable. LA's Decades Two has been running a huge Chanel sale over the past week. While we expect the boutique had an amazing assortment the online merchandise has quickly dwindled.

Instead we found an amazing collection of corc Judith Leiber clutches. They are both stylish, understated and not jeweled! The prices range from $680 to $800 but the site is running a 15% off promotion if you use the code CHA15.

Don't be shy. Take a look. You might find a gift that is perfectly unpredictable. Just remember that this is a consignment store, which means there are no backsies!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This Week's Worthy Sample Sales

The weeks leading up to Christmas are always prime for sample sales. There are literally dozens scheduled for this week but not all of them are worthy of your time and money. In order to save you energy, we combed through our inbox and favorite blogs to compose a list of Madison Avenue Spy worthy sample sales.

Proenza Schouler
Tuesday, December 14 to Thursday, December 16
9am to 6pm
495 Broadway (@ Broome St), 8th floor

The sale opens to the public on Tuesday, which means Monday is a VIP, press or friends and family day. We imagine that this sale won't be armed with secret service investigators. So die-hard Proenza fans, you know what you need to do.

Prices are reported to range from $70 to $1430, which sounds significantly discounted from full retail. Merchandise will include, samples and unsold stock from fall 2010 and previous seasons. Shoes are always the first to sell out at their prior sales. If you're willing to wait it out, prices are cut on the last day.
c/o: NY.Racked

Rodarte
Thursday, December 16
Undisclosed Location
info@rodarte.net

Most consumers can agree that the prices of Rodarte are kind of retarte. For this reason, this sample sale is always a reader favorite. You need to RSVP to find out the location of the sale and schedule an appointment. We have an idea of where it is but can't post until we know for sure.

Once you get an appointment, hit the ATM because the sale is cash only. Prices usually range from $40 to $4000. Ready-to-wear, shoes, t-shirts and accessories will be available, in addition to a few men's knits. Some items can be taken home for a just a few hundred dollars but the wow-peices are closer to $1000. As we said, hit the ATM and make sure you know your daily withdrawal limit.
c/o: Mizhattan

Alexander Wang
Thursday, December 16 to Sunday, November 19
Thurs-Sat 10am to 7pm , Sun 9am to 2pm
93 Mercer Street (b/w Spring and Broome)

Who doesn't love Alexander Wang? Even better, who doesn't love Alexander Wang on sale! The sale will include merchandise from this season and include, bags, shoes, and T by Alexander Wang for men and for women. Discounts will be up to 80% off retail.

The sale opens to the public on Thursday but in past seasons there is always a day or two of employee and press shopping. Frankly, that's when the $300 Darcy and $250 Rocco bags are gobbled up. Prices for clothing usually range from $60 to $200 and up.
c/o: NY.Racked

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Following the Markdowns Update

Earlier this season, we took stock of our readers' most wanted items. As sale season heats up, we thought it would be a good idea to check in on the objects of our obsession and their markdown status.

1. Chloe Elsie Large Satchel $1395


Follow Up: The Elsie has not made it on sale in department stores or the boutique. A great alternative is the Abby, which is 40% off at Chloe boutiques. The sale price for the large Abby is about $1115 from $1875.






2. Givenchy Nightingale $1900-$2300

Follow Up: As expected, this puppy is going to be difficult to find on sale. Not may stores carry Givenchy bags, which makes the task even tougher. Bluefly has a host of Givenchy bags, which are about 30% off and the Melancholia is on sale at Barneys for $839 from $1405.





Follow Up: This coat was reduced to 50% off at Missoni boutiques, in mid-November, but is currently all sold out.










4. Cesare Paciotti heels $500-$600

Follow up: Almost anyone will admit that Louboutins are a bit overplayed. We thought it would be fun to expand our shoe horizons. Most shoes are now 30% off at the Cesare Paciotti boutique and a limited styles and bags are 50% off.







Follow Up: We guessed that you would be able to snag this little number for at least 30% off but it's now 40% off or $474.











Follow Up: When we first posted about this dress it was already reduced to $528. There have been no further reductions.











Follow up: We first predicted that this necklace should go to 50% off but it's still just 30% off or $342. We still think it will get reduced further. If you're looking for a better deal now, browse through the selection on Oscar's website. This exact piece is exclusive to Saks but there is still a great selection and it's all 40% off.







Follow up: This it bag is now $499 at Barneys but the Alexander Wang sample sale is next week. We bet a few early insiders can snag this style bag for under $400.









Follow Up: As previously reported, Alexander Wang's online store marked these beauties down 40%. Unfortunately, they are now all sold out. At Barneys they are now $539 but finding them may be difficult, unless you are a size 11. The bright side is that they do run very small.









Follow Up: The bad news is that this exact style did not make it markdown. However, the more sporty version, with a shearling lining is now 50% off or $490 from $980.


Gift Ideas: Texting Gloves

During the winter, you can go through a pair of gloves a week. You're in a cab, gloves come off to pay and voila, they are forgotten and abandoned. Sometimes lefty is gone, other times it's righty. Either way, it's a huge fashion loss.

Over the years, I've tried tracking expensive leather gloves, tiny $1 gloves and huge ski gloves and I even purchased those clips that kids use to attach their gloves to their coats. Would you believe the whole clip fell off with the glove? I've come to realize that it's best to settle for something more moderate.



We recently saw these wonderful texting gloves at Saks for $65 and knew they would be perfect. They allow you to easily use your mobile device and are small enough to fit in your pockets. No more forgetting about the gloves on your lap! What's even more cool is that the flaps can be turned up to protect pointer and thumbkin on the coldest of days.

I'm just hoping that I can hold on to them through the New Year. As you can see, im setting my expectations low!

Check out more of our gift ideas by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In Stock: Louis Vuitton Monogram

Spies report that the Louis Vuitton boutique inside Saks Fifth Avenue has received a hefty shipment of monogram items today. Louis Vuitton has been sold out of most style bags with the iconic logo since mid-summer.

"This is the largest shipment we have received in a very long time," a sales associate commented. This shipment comes just in time to fill the needs of logo-hungry holiday shoppers. If you have your heart set on an iPad case though, you might be waiting until Spring. We hear that there were only three in the shipment and the wait list is long and growing.



One has to wonder how commission earning sales people are dealing with the Vuitton drought. For sport, we used to go to Vuitton boutiques and ask for several known sold out products. The game quickly grew old and the employee's desperation changed the tone of the joke.

For the sake of holiday shoppers and Vuitton employees, we just hope that more inventory continues to stock the shelves. For some suburban teenagers, nothing else but a LV logo will do.

Gift Idea: Rarities Gemstone Earrings

It would be very easy for us to run to Van Cleef and suggest a $20,000 pair of earrings, which would melt of the heart and dazzle the eyes. However, we've never been known to take the easy way out.

For the longest time we were sticklers to the finest quality jewelry. After a bit of reflection-- and adult obligations-- we've come to realize that you don't always need to invest a bundle to enjoy great looking jewelry. We've recently grown fond of large checkerboard faceted gemstone hanging earrings. The look is elegant and punctuates most any outfit and hair style.



HSN may be the last destination you imagine when shopping for jewelry but you may want to consider browsing through Carol Brodie's Rarities collection, which includes the aforesaid earrings, priced at $299. We suggest going with the Prasiolite stone, which is subtle and easily flatters almost any outfit.

While you're on the site, don't miss the diamond feather drop earrings, which are about $1,160. That's a bit pricey for play jewelry but you can see how this gets addictive.

Click here to see more of our holiday gift ideas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Balmain 80% Off

It's kind of comical to shop a sale where the discount is 80% off and still find items that are several thousand dollars. No, we aren't talking about a used car auction. It's The OutNet's Balmain Sale!



The sale went live today and there are dozens of great wardrobe pieces, including a purple silk-chiffon embroidered mini dress that's about $3k from $12.3k, a deconstructed ruffled leather mini dress that's about $3.6k from $14.4k and a cotton-canvas shirt for about $1.4k from $4.7k.

Balmain's retail prices seem extreme even in a world where a million dollar salary is considered middle class. Even though these prices are not inexpensive, this sale is a rare opportunity to snag a dream item for the same price as your monthly co-op maintenance.

Gift Idea: Frédéric Fekkai Haircare

Suggesting you purchase bathroom toiletries for a loved one seems kinda... um, unthoughtful. Unless of course, it's the right toiletry. Frédéric Fekkai hair products are a bit of a luxury even if they are part of your daily grooming routine.

Fekkai Advanced Essential Shea is the newest member of the hair products family. The product grouping is designed to repair dry and damaged hair. Perfect for these harsh and cold winter days. The shampoo and conditioner are $23 each and have a wonderful warm nutty scent.



If you're looking for a more economical alternative, we found a set of Fekkai shampoo, conditioner and styling cream for sale at Costco for $29. All you need is a nice bow and we know this gift will not see the crowds of a return line.

Click here to see a listing of our previous gift ideas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chanel Private Sale

It took a trip to Soho but our spies have been informed that the Chanel private sale will begin next week. To be precise, the private sale markdown will begin on Wednesday, December 15 and the discount will be 40% off ready-to-wear, select shoes and accessories.



Don't be intimidated by the "Private Sale" title. There's no list. It's simply a Chanel presale. At the boutique markdowns you can expect to find shoes that are distantly winter styles, like those wolly-mammoth boots with icicle heels. Rain boots and ballet flats are not included. In the bag category, you can expect those multi-color wool style bags but not a patent leather Reissue. Ya catchin' on?

For the record, we examined the new Reissue Maxi double flaps and they are exquisite. You better get going if you're looking to grab one of these new styles for the holidays. All the cruise style bags in SoHo are already spoken for. The price is $4000.

Erma, Soho 212-334-0055

Gift Ideas: Rimowa Luggage

We've already covered a few gift ideas for the ladies and girls but we know it's always most difficult to buy men a gift. Considering his jet-set lifestyle, Mr. Madison shouldn't be without a Rimowa. Haven't heard of it? Don't be shy.

Forget about a Vuitton wheely, the Rimowa is the only way to travel. Its polycarbonate body is light yet durable. The 365-degree rotating wheels are smoother than a shot of Johnny Walker Blue. As a matter of fact, we joke that this bag could not be pushed more easily even if it were operated by remote control. Oh, did we mention the wonderful color assortment? Totally stylish.



Bags range in price from about $550 to $1000, depending on size and color and are available at Barneys. It's not easy to find these puppies on sale, even online. We suggest checking with local luggage retailers for subtile discounts or stalking a nearby boutique a color-way closeout. Click here for a list of Rimowa dealers.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bottega Veneta on Sale

Bottega Veneta has started their first markdown on shoes and clothing. Handbags, unfortunately, are not on sale. The discount is 30% to 40% off.

We especially love this season's wedges, which look like sculpture when not being worn ($389). We also like this toffee brocade dress, which is still a bit pricey at almost $2600. We'll wait for another markdown on that. Men's clothing and shoes are also included in the discount but some of the colors might be a bit challenging for some guys.



The sale is available online but the in-store selection is much better.

Angeline 212-371-5511

Gift Ideas: Put on Your Pearls Girls

Forget about Tiffany's Table Manner's for Teenagers. It's dated and, well, you're not going to learn how to hold a spoon from a book. If you really want to share important life lessons you must buy handbag designer, Lulu Guinness's Put on Your Pearls Girls .

The pop-up book is filled with inspiring life lessons like, "Beauty comes from the heart-not a jar" or "When you dress to kill it's your feet that are the first to feel the pain." Two of our favorite words of advice are, "Sometimes the best accessory is a well dressed man" and "Never be the last to leave a party."



The illustrations are adorable and the message is clear: fashion comes from within, not the things you wear. Can you imagine a more important lesson for a young (or older) stylista? We didn't think so. Perfect for all girls from 4 to 400!

Available from Amazon.com for $20.90. Shipping is extra, but you didn't need us to tell you that.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Costco NYC's Chanel Bags and More

Like most stores in New York, there is no match to the Costco on 116th Street. We couldn't imagine finding a $7,000 Chanel J12 or a $12,000 gold and diamond Cartier watch in many of the other 425 locations Costco warehouses around the country.

But fancy watches are not all you will find at the NY, NY Costco, this holiday season. PerryStSpy reports that the shopping club is stocked with several Chanel bags, including a large quilted bag (not a Classic) and a large white tote. Both are about $2200. PerryStSpy admits, "Both were a bit Boca Raton for my taste but hey, that's what makes the world go round!"



We doubt that these styles will be around for long -- even if they are Boca--but the store is also stocked with a variety of bags from Michael Kors and Burberry. Hey, it's worth a peek while you're buying your four gallons of milk.

Bergdorf Goodman First Markdown

Bergdorf Goodman has started their fist markdown on fall and winter merchandise. Designer shoes are 30% off. Presale is still going on for clothing, which is 40% off. You can use this link to access the presale online.

Shhhh. The discount on Net-a-Porter and Barneys is better. It is always best to go to the actual store if you want to take advantage of Bergdorf's sale. Inside you will find items that can't be found at your nationwide mall or any boutique.

We find fashion inspiration just by watching other Bergdorf shoppers. (Even if we are just waiting for a second ... or third markdown.) It's truly a unique experience.

Gift Ideas: Mark Schwartz's Shoe Art

In honor of Art Basel, we thought we would focus today's gift idea on artful shoes. No, these shoes will not take up any more room in your closet but they are equally as beautiful. Mark Schwartz creates serious shoe art.



Mark started his career in the early 80s working as an assistant shoe designer to Roger Vivier. His sketches were dazzling and quickly caught the attention of Andy Warhol. The two artists quickly became friends and colleagues. In the 1990s, Mark opened his first shoe boutique in SoHo but it was his paintings that continued to catch the eye of shoe lovers.

There is an extensive gallery of sketches available for purchase on Mark's website. Most of them are being seriously discounted and can be purchased for between $100 and $200 each. That's much less than a shoe from a Vivier sample sale. A We couldn't imagine a more original and thoughtful gift for a true shoe lover.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Petit Bateau Brooklyn Sale

After a successful run in Tribeca, the Petit Bateau sample sale is packing it in and docking across the East River, in Park Slope.

Brooklynites, are you ready to save 50% to 60% off a great selection of items for women, children and babies? Well, you already live in Brooklyn, so spotting a great deal should be second nature.



What do you think about $40 tees for $20, plush velour kid¹s pajamas for $24 from $48 or adorable $28 onesies for just $14? We thought you would like that.

Unlike most sample sales, this isn¹t a one hit wonder. Large shipments are expected to arrive daily, which means that there is always something new to explore. You in? We certainly are!

Petit Bateau Sample Sale- Brooklyn
Sale starts Thursday, December 2nd
Mon-Sat. 9am to 6pm, Sun. 11am to 5pm
219 7th Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn
Cash and credit cards

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Gift Ideas: Tom Ford Black Orchid

Tonight was the first night of Hanukkah. At least you get eight more tries if you blew it tonight. From now until Christmas we will be offering gift suggestions. Buying the right gift on sale could be difficult and can often be tacky. Our goal is to choose items that will be appreciated and imply personality and style.

There are so many reasons to hate winter but there are few reasons to love the gray season too. One of our favorites are the woodsy, dark and sexy scents. Our favorite, for several years in a row, is Tom Ford's Black Orchid. This scent somehow channels the very value that make men and woman similarly swoon for the dashing designer.



The Tom Ford Beauty Black Orchard Gift Set includes lipstick, nail polish and pressed perfume. The pressed perfume is great because you never have to worry about it going bad or spilling. Practical and sexy, it's almost a contradiction.

$140 @ Saks Fifth Avenue

Amazing Fur Sample Sale

Whether it’s faux or real, nothing says it’s 10-below and I don’t care better than fur. Next week, you can get a jump-start on winter chic and save a bundle at the Cassin, sherry cassin and Jocelyn sample sale.

All three brands can be found at the most exclusive stores. The three-day sample sale will include a variety of luxury furs and outerwear, including rainwear and faux fur for 50% to 90% off. A Jocelyn fox and raccoon scarf will be $198 from $495 and you can snag sherry cassin Mongolian lamb vests for $295 from $695.



In addition to the anticipated vests and coats, we are also told there will be a great selection of scarves, hats, wraps, vests and ponchos. You can even bedeck your picky older sister with gifts starting at under $100. Lets see her turn up her nose at that!

Cassin/sherry cassin/Jocelyn Sample Sale
Wednesday, December 8 to Friday, December 10
Wed & Thurs. 9:30am to 7:00pm, Fri 9:30am to 6:30pm
150 West 30th Street (@ 7th Ave), 5th Floor
Cash and Credit Cards Only

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Worthy Sample Sales

Our inbox has been flooded with sample sale alerts ranging from the fabulous to the ridiculous. It would be so easy for us to list all the upcoming sales but we know how much you hate running to an out-of-the way location to find long lines and barely reduced merchandise.

So here are our reviews of the most talked about upcoming sample sales. Of course, there are no assurances but we deem the below sample sales to be money saving shopping opportunities.

Michael Angel
Friday, December 3 to Sunday, December 5
Fri 10:30am to 7:30pm, Sat & Sun 11am to 5pm
65 Greene Street, 3rd Floor
Visa, Mastercard and Cash

Aussi designer, Michael Angel is known for his striking prints and well engineered clothing. His designs can be found on the pages of the most prestigious fashion magazines, including Vogue and V Magazine.

The sale will feature prices up to 90% off. We have a feeling that this will be one of those o-m-g sales--unmistakable fashion for unbelievable prices. That’s one way to get your heart pounding!

Brian Atwood
Monday, December 6
9am to 6pm
444 West 17th Street (between 9th &10th Ave.)

As of last week, the Brian Atwood sample sale was running under the radar but it appears that everyone and their grandmother is pumped up about snagging a pair of edgy heels for just $150.

We have a feeling that this sale could be madness but would remiss to exclude it from our listing. The sale is just one day. We would normally suggest going late and bypassing the lines. In this case, if you want a chance at a winner pair of shoes you’re going to have to get there early.

Diane von Furstenberg
Tuesday, December 7 to Friday, December 10
Tue 9am to 6:30pm, Wed 10am to 8pm, Thur 10am to 7pm, Fri 9am to 3pm
260 5th Ave (between 28th and 29th St.)

The DVF sale is legend, not especially for prices but for selection. The first day is always the most crazy. There are lines to get in. Lines to try on clothing. Lines to pay. We suggest waiting to at least the afternoon or until the second or third day of the sale.

In past seasons, wrap dresses and vintage styles were $150, coats $350, cocktail dresses $250 and sweaters $80. By Thursday, prices are usually cut significantly. The only problem is that inventory isn't usually replenished. If you’re looking for a simple wrap dress we would suggest hitting the Neiman Marcus Last Call Studio where there were several styles for just $179.

Cesare Paciotti
Wednesday, December 8 and Thursday, December 9
10 am to 6pm
12 West 57th Street, suite 901
CASH ONLY

If you haven’t blown your yearly budget on shoes yet, you may be able to make up for lost time at the Cesare Paciotti sample sale. Men’s and women’s shoes and accessories will be discounted up to 80% off.

We don’t have many details on this sale but hope that showroom employees are warmer than the Madison Avenue boutique sales help. Someone has to tell those women that nasty does not sell shoes.

L.A.M.B. & Harajuku Lovers
Wednesday, December 8 to Friday December 10
Wed 8am to 8pm, Thus 10am to 8pm and Fri 8am to 6pm
144 Fifth Avenue (Between 19th & 20th St.), 2nd Floor
CREDIT CARDS ONLY

Don’t worry, we weren’t expecting you to fill your closet with Gwen Stefani’s designs. But we know your niece, little cousin and friends’ daughters will love the edgy styling and grown-up feel of LAMB or the fun anime of Harajuku.

Prices will be up to 70% off. A LAMB Maria Messenger Bag will be $75 from $228 and a Harajuku Lovers Candy Bar Tote will be $25 from $88. Just add a lip gloss and you will be sure to be to win hearts without spending a bundle.

Temperley London
Saturday, December 11 to Friday, December 17
Sat 11am to 7pm, Sun 12pm to 6pm, Mon to Fri 11am to 7pm
453 Broome Street, 2nd Floor

Okay, this sale is all about you. We've been to the store and know there is an abundance of amazing pieces. It’s going to be hard to choose. At least you know the prices will be great.

Prices will be up to 80% off. We know from the past that this DOESN’T mean that there’s a small rack of steeply discounted merchandise. For example, a Temperley London mini dress will be $398 from $995 and a Temperly London jacket will be $880 from $2200.