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The Snooty School Marms Are Back at the SMSKCC Thrift Shop Sale

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After yesterday's jaunt to the über-glam Tom Ford on Madison and today's visit to the Society for Memorial Sloan Kettering Thrift Shop spring sale, it might be a while before we even consider venturing up to the Upper East Side again. The boutique, which benefits the Society of MSKCC's Patient Care, Research and Education Programs, is known as the "Bergdorf's of thrift shops", and the seasonal sale offers shoppers the privilege of browsing discounted and second-hand fancy labels (Giorgio Armani, Versace, Pucci, etc) in an environment of pure, uncut first-hand snobbery.

Which leads us, of course, to the famed Designer Room. Oh yes, the well-outfitted and impeccably-coiffed society matrons who guard the room are back, although this time around, they look more Dynasty than Merchant Ivory.

We first made the grave mistake of assuming the sentries were too busy bitching about their frenemies and how much they hated how the new girl set up the sale to pay much attention to us. (Seriously ladies, people can hear you when you talk.) Fail. Less than a minute after we'd entered the dressing room with our mandated three-item maximum, one of the marms suddenly and viciously ripped open the dressing room curtain and demanded to know how many pieces we had. Thank goodness we happened to be wearing a $175 Badgley Mischka salmon pink sari-inspired caftan, so we weren't exposed in our undies to the masses. After curtly telling us to "hurry up," she stomped off, but left the curtain partially open—presumably to monitor our activities. Honestly, SMSKCC, that type of treatment is just downright nasty. And to be even more honest, aside from a few standouts, the items and the fairly high prices don't really justify the attitude. We're talking $450 for a gently worn Bill Blass feathered cocktail frock. It was cute, but come on.

But we soldiered through the indignity of it all and found these items: A silvery-grey Chloe cashmere sweater shift ($150), an Yigal Azrouël periwinkle and flesh-toned mesh bodice frock ($150), a crisp khaki Celine shirt dress ($120), a brown-toned Pucci dress ($225), a Giorgio Armani black leather moto-jacket ($325), a baby blue Burberry hooded rain coat ($195) and a light-weight Miu Miu trench ($165).

The main floor for the ladies is worth a quick rummage for mid-range designer items. Amongst the randoms, we unearthed a tweedy Rebecca Taylor mini-frock with beading ($50), a navy and fuschia print Diane Von Furstenberg shirt-dress ($65), a brown and cream Milly shift ($50) and—Project Runway alert—a Simply Chloe Dao poncho coat with weird circle details on the sleeve ($60).

As for accessories, the shoes on the floor were a bust except for a pair of size seven black and gold satin Miu Miu platforms for $75. The designer pairs (we saw Prada pumps and Manolo flip flops) are behind a counter, also guarded by sentries. The bags are there, too, but aside from some Hermès wannabes and a Coach, we didn't recognize any other styles (guess the UES society ladies are loathe to part with their Kellys).

The gentlemen however, always do well here, which is no surprise considering the high concentration of rich finance dandies populating the 'hood. Amongst the suits and jackets, we spied a gleaming grey Issey Miyake suit jacket with various stripes of mixed tones and textures ($160), a full Miyake suit ($185 — from the same donor?), a grey Versace suit with subtle black grosgrain piping ($275), and a silky smooth camel-hued Ermenegildo Zegna zip-front coat ($100).

There is also a wide array of shirting from basic banker blue to more fun items like a fitted Seize sur Vingt ($15), a Ralph Lauren floral ($35), and a bold purple paisley (our iPhone auto-corrected the designer name and now we forget who made it, but it must have been good for a $75 price tag).

One more warning before we go. The disposition of the shoppers definitely rivals that of the volunteer staffers. From the linebackers masquerading as impatient middle-aged ladies to the jackhole who was less than gallant when we rushed into the shop trying to escape the unwanted attention of a loogy-hacking loonytoon wielding a cane on Third Avenue, WTH, people? That said, this sale really does benefit a fantastic cause. We just suggest mentally preparing yourself before braving it.
· Dealfeed: Memorial Sloan Kettering Thrift Shop [Racked NY]
· Designer Finds, Uptown Attitude at SMSKCC Thrift Shop Sale [Racked NY]
· Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Thrift Shop [Official Site]

Bergdorf Goodman

754 5th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10019 (212) 753-7300 Visit Website

Prada - Soho

575 Broadway, New York, NY 10012 212-334-8888 Visit Website

Manolo Blahnik

31 West 54th Street, Manhattan, NY 10019 (212) 582-3007 Visit Website