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The ABC's of New York City Shopping

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Now that summer is officially over, New York Fashion Week is in full swing, and stores are rolling out fall merch, it's time to relearn the alphabet. Welcome to the ABC's of the New York City retail scene—our simplified guide to the stores, streets, neighborhoods, and trends that define NYC shopping. From Alexander Wang to Zara, and everything in between (Line-Sitters, In-Store Dining, Fidi) let's get ready to play the alphabet game.

A is for Alexander Wang

Image via Alexander Wang

Whether you actually shop in Alexander Wang's Grand Street flagship, or just stop by to see what he's hung in The Cage (this season's installation: marble surfboards), there's no denying the designer has made his mark on downtown style (er, model-off-duty downtown style). Walk a few blocks in any direction and you'll see Wang's catwalker pals skipping to and from their agencies in slouchy beanies and Rocco bags, making you wonder if you too could nonchalantly wear things like Bermuda shorts. Expect pandemonium when the designer rolls out his H&M collaboration this November.

B is for Barneys, Bergdorf's, Bloomingdale's, and Bendel's

Barneys, Photo by Brian Harkin

Barneys, Bergdorf's, Bendel's, and Bloomingdale's. At some point, all New Yorkers must ask themselves: Who is my main B? Close your eyes and let your department store spirit animal choose you.

C is for Crosby Street

Miansai's Crosby Street Store, Photo by Driely S. for Racked

Crosby Street is officially the chicest menswear stretch in New York. With apparel from Carson Street Clothiers, Saturdays Surf, and Bonobos Guideshop to accessories from Miansai and high-end grooming outpost Fellow Barber, it's basically a crime to find a poorly dressed dude in this area.

D is for Dover Street Market

Image via Dover Street Market

Last year we celebrated the launch of Rei Kawakubo's newest Dover Street Market in the normcore location of 160 Lexington Avenue, and nine months later it's still supplying New York with its capsule collection lifeblood. Recently we've seen A.P.C.'s line with Kanye West, Adidas designs from Raf Simons and Rick Owens, and Riccardo Tisci—designed sneakers for Nike pass through Dover's graffiti'd halls.

E is for Engagement Rings

Photo by Driely S. for Racked

Or, you know, treat yo self rings. But brides-to-be who prefer hammered gold and moonstones to princess cut diamonds now have loads of styles to choose from, thanks to the city's indie jewelry shop boom. Scosha, Nora Kogan, Catbird, Broken English, Love Adorned, and Anna Sheffield are just a few of the stores offering non-traditional bands and engagements rings. And if classic is your thing, you can always book it to Tiffany's most famous outpost.

F is for Fidi's Retail Boom

A rendering of the Oculus, the World Trade Center retail center

It may be hard to imagine now, but the next few years will see a total retail transformation of the Financial District. Mega shopping centers Brookfield Place and the Westfield Group at the World Trade Center (Saks Fifth Avenue, Hermes, and Equinox are at the former, while The Kooples, Tom Ford, and Kate Spade will be housed in the latter) have been snagging most of the attention, but other brands like Zara and Gap are heading downtown as well.

G is for Gym Tribes

Image via SoulCycle

Plenty of people who regularly pay $35 a pop for boutique exercise classes start to develop ~*feelings*~ for their studios of choice. Maybe they showed up to their first SoulCycle session in a ratty tee from their college ultimate frisbee team, but by week four they're tapping it back in $120 "SOUL GANG" leggings. Physique 57 and Pure Barre have also jumped on the in-house clothing line train—making it even easier to play the "guess who belongs to which fancy gym" game.

H is for Home Goods, Brooklyn-Style

Photo by Driely S. for Racked

Blame it on the influx of spendy condos, but Williamsburg and Greenpoint have seen a slew of home goods store openings in the past year—leaving North Brooklyn stocked with kitchenware, couches, and tchotchkes. Those looking to stock their new digs with equally new decorations could easily spend a day winding their way through Beam, SmallHome, Home of the Brave, Cucina & Tavola, and Whisk's new Bedford Avenue expansion.

I is for In-Store Dining

Photo by Robert Sietsema

Sure, fancy department stores restaurants—Bergdorf's BG, Fred's at Barneys, Cafe SFA on Saks' 8th floor—are nothing new, but now mega-chain branches and smaller retailers are using things like lobster-topped-nachos to lull customers into a state of spend-happy relaxation. Urban Outfitters recently unveiled The Gorbals—a restaurant inside their Williamsburg Space Ninety 8 concept shop—while Crosby Street newcomer Miansai opened an in-store tea bar and Club Monaco's Flatiron outpost added Toby's Estate coffee to the mix.

J is for Journelle

Image via Journelle

Yes, there are fancier lingerie shops in the city (La Perla, Kiki de Montparnasse), and cheaper ones, but mini-chain Journelle manages to stock the ultimate mix of non-boring basics by brands like Araks, Cosabella, Commando, Hanky Panky, Natori, The Lake & Stars, and VPL.

K is for Koreatown

Photo by Driely S. for Racked

Centered around West 32nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Koreatown may be tiny, but it packs a big beauty punch. Stock up on sheet masks, bunny-shaped lip glosses, and herbal bath bombs at Korean cosmetics shops Tony Moly, The Face Shop, and Skylake before hitting up one of the block's karaoke bars.

L is for Line Sitters

Image via SOLD Inc/Twitter

In a city rife with both sample sales and people with loads of money, it was only a matter of time before being a professional line sitter became a career option. Here's a guide to one of the city's most popular sitter groups, Same Ole Line Dudes, or SOLD Inc, in case you've got cash to burn and an Altuzarra for Target wish list.

M is for Malls

The Mall at Bay Plaza, Image via WSJ

They're a relic of our past, and in New York City, they're a sign of our future. The Bronx is adding a total of 1.4 million square feet of mallage to the borough, including the recently-opened Mall at Bay Plaza, and Staten Island will be getting a huge outlet mall in 2016. Plus, don't forget that New Jersey megamall just over our borders that Chris Christie is still pushing for.

N is for Nolita

Photo by Driely S. for Racked

Not just north of some good Italian food, but a prime destination for boutique owners. From fashion like Creatures of Comfort, Babel Fair, and Steven Alan to accessories from Erica Weiner and shoes from Coclico, not to mention fresh fragrances from Atelier Cologne and Diptyque, there's endless shopping to be done here again and again (and again, and again...)

O is for Opening Ceremony

Image via Opening Ceremony

One of New York City's OG buzzy, multi-brand stores, Opening Ceremony calls on its roster of celebrity pals (Chloe Sevigny, Jeremy Scott, Spike Jonze) to lend their styling skills to the shop's capsule collections. And while OC's collabs are always changing, a few key brands serve as the store's pillars—the in-house line, Acne, Band of Outsiders, and Kenzo (which is designed by Opening Ceremony's owners Carol Lim and Humberto Leon).

P is for Pop-Up Shop

Kenzo's Bergdorf Goodman pop-up, Image via BergdorfGoodman/Instagram

Brands from Fendi to Everlane know that there's nothing like the phrase "five days only" to infuse a simple shopping trip with a sense of urgency. Which is why (almost) every week, labels descend on our city, opening pop-up shops in empty storefronts, swanky hotels, and re-purposed tour buses, only to skip town days later—clutching the dress we swore we'd come back for.

Q is for Queens-watch

MoMA's ARTBOOK shop, Photo by Driely S. for Racked

As the debate rages over where, exactly, the next Brooklyn J. Crew will land, we're turning our attention to the shops of Queens. The borough's retail scene has been on the rise for a while now, with neighborhoods like Astoria and Long Island City slowly filling up with shopping destinations. Bond No. 9 even released a scent dedicated to its awesomeness.

R is for Ricky's

Image via Facebook/BoomBoomBrowBar

Where else can you get your brows done, pick up a pack of metallic tattoos, stock up on your favorite fancy shampoo and drug store nail polish, and treat your pup to doggie rain boots? New York City mini-chain Ricky's has nearly two dozen outposts, meaning you're never too far from a jar of Manic Panic, should the mood strike.

S is for Sample Sales

You saw this one coming, right? Having access to $100 Rag & Bone booties and $40 silk Equipment blouses is a small consolation for living in such an expensive city, but we'll take it.

T is for Throwback Fashions

Photo by Driely S. for Racked

New York City has so many amazing vintage stores, we had a hard time narrowing them down to our favorite 38. While this isn't the kind of place where you'll stumble across someone's grandmother's pristine silk Hermes scarf for $3, store owners here really know their stuff. Which means whether you destroyed Levi's cutoffs for festival season, or a silk dress to wear to the Jazz Age Lawn Party, there's a shop for that.

U is for Uniform, All Black Everything

Photo by Driely S. for Racked

Sure it's a cliché, but a true one. We love our black—exhaust fume dust settles in seamlessly, there's nothing better for instantly absorbing the coffee you just spilled on yourself after six people elbowed you on your walk from the subway to the office, and no color blows out of NYC stores faster.

V is for Vinyl

Image via Permanent Records

There's been a quiet uptick in vinyl sales over the past two years, and while NYC has seen a few store shutterings (most recently Park Slope's Fifth Avenue Record and Tape Center), the record business marches on. Permanent Records rallied and moved to South Slope rather than face a closure, and Williamsburg vinyl giant Rough Trade is still going strong, 10 months in.

W is for Wait Lists

Image via Mansur Gavriel

New York City is such an instant gratification kind of place that being put on a wait list feels like entering purgatory. And yet we jot down our names, most recently for Mansur Gavriel's bucket bags and Joinery's blankets.

X is for X-pat Shops

Image via Sockerbit

Whether you're a homesick expat, on the hunt for a foreign pal's favorite cookies, or feel like taking a staycation, New York City is full of shops stocked with international goods. Stock up on real-deal Swedish candy at Sockerbit, browse Japanese nail art magazines and stationery at Bryant Park's Kinokuniya, try on ultra-soft Russian goats' hair scarves in Brighton Beach's Saint-Petersburg Global Trade House, or pack your fridge with British dandelion soda from Tea and Sympathy.

Y is for Yankees Caps

Image via Streetpeeper

Fashion's recent embrace of all things sporty has given us a renewed appreciation for the Yankees cap—whether it's classic navy and white or done up in black leather. We've spotted more than one at New York Fashion Week, paired with everything from red lipstick and pencil skirts to anoraks and Air Maxes.

Z is for Zara

Image via Zara

In a city packed with mega-retailers, Zara wins the fast fashion game. We love them for their pared-down looks, fast runway-to-rack turnaround time, and their ability to elicit "Is that Celine?" comments from people who have obviously not seen our bank accounts.
· Racked's 38 Essential Stores [Racked NY]
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· Best Stores for Shopping on a Budget [Racked NY]