Fifth and Madison Avenues may have their big, wow 'em global brands, but in the darling West Village—with its mazelike, curving streets and gorgeous brownstones—the boutiques are as special as the surroundings. We've rounded up our favorite shops for you to check out, plus here's a tip from those in-the-know: Make a point to peel your eyes away from the fabulous frocks on the racks, because local residents Liv Tyler or Sarah Jessica Parker might be browsing right next to you.
Best for Indie Labels and Vintage
Located in the heart of Christopher Street, Albertine is a charming boutique specializing in international indie brands, with a few local designers thrown into the mix. For example, Ulla Johnson separates hang next to pieces from Wren, Miranda Bennett, and Rachel Comey. There's also a small, well-curated selection of vintage clothing. Owner Kyung Lee’s taste veers toward feminine details, so consider stopping in before your next date night.
The Kicker: It’s all about the up-and-comers at this sweet store, so you're unlikely to see what you're wearing on someone else.
Best for Wardrobe Staples
A.P.C., the cool, Parisian brand known for classics with a twist for men and women, has opened a shop in the neighborhood. Grab a pair of their coveted slim jeans before turning your attention to collaboratively-designed accessories, such as E. Porselli ballet flats and jewelry from House of Waris.
The Kicker: Stock is limited, so no hemming and hawing. It's best to be decisive on the spot.
Best for a Complete Outfit
Off pretty Commerce Street, Mick Margo is as charming as its moniker. Proprietor Nadine Ferber named the store after her grandfather, a Brit dandy around town. But rather than British quirk, Ferber’s selection is more savvy, French-chic. There’s a reliable selection of Cacharel and Isabel Marant each season, plus Repetto flats.
The Kicker: To top it off, grab a few accessories, such as Karen Walker sunglasses or an MDC cashmere scarf.
Best for an Emergency Cocktail Dress
A stone’s throw away from Equinox gym on Greenwich Avenue, Jessie James has an impressive selection of affordable cocktail dresses. On a recent stop-in, there was a lineup of Dolce Vita, Cut25, and Jay Godfrey dresses under $300. But the day-to-night dresses by Kimberly Taylor, a 25-year-old New York-based designer, were the biggest stars. Cut mostly of silk and priced in the $250 range, they were selling like hotcakes.
The Kicker: Aside from a great selection of dresses, be sure to check out the well-priced, casual pieces.
Best for Your Next Trip to Paris
Parisian contemporary label Sandro is a welcome addition to Bleecker Street. Designed by founder Evelyne Chetrite, the brand is known for sleek, tailored separates with a nod to runway trends. A simple, black sheath may have a black leather bodice, or you there might be a shirtdress refreshed with a coquette collar. The fit of her clothes is wonderfully French—think shrunken blazers with high armholes, and slim trousers that have a casual, effortless slouch.
The Kicker: For flirtier fare, head next door to Maje, started by Chetrite’s sister, Judith Melgrom. You’ll find leopard-print dresses for nights out, and floral frocks perfect for post-work and the weekend.
Heading to New York soon? Get up-to-the-minute recommendations for restaurants and hotels, plus the best planning advice, and more, with our online travel guide to New York.
Photo credit: ucouldguess / flickr