Department store shopping gets a bad rap—stores tend to be crowded and disorganized—but New York is home to some of the best department stores in the world. You can spend the whole day browsing everything from dresses, shirts and shoes for men and women to beauty supply products and home decor. Get the lowdown on the best spots, including high-end shops like Lord & Taylor and Henri Bendel, as well as places to find bargain goods, such as Century 21 and Marshalls. Hell, you may be surprised to find big-name talent (Diane von Furstenberg, Paul Smith, and Elizabeth and James, to name a few) priced lower than you would expect.
RECOMMENDED: Best shops in NYC
The best department stores
Once through the doors of this unbearably chic mother of all department stores, you’ll be presented with an excellent selection of accessories: Givenchy jewelry, Missoni scarves and Isabel Marant belts. Journey through 15 floors of runway styles from luxury brands, including women’s dresses from Balmain and Jil Sander, along with men’s Isaia tuxedos and suits, A.P.C. sweaters and Rick Owens outerwear. Ascend to heaven, also known as the shoe floor, on the fifth level. Gleefully eye hundreds of designs ($24–$4,645), including heels, pumps, boots, loafers, oxfords, sandals and sneakers.Read more
Bloomies is packed with enough designer duds, accessories and beauty products to ensure you’ll leave holding many of the store’s iconic big brown bags. Make your first stop the cosmetics counter for hair and skin care products, fragrances, makeup tools and men’s toiletries. Gents will love the grooming goods from the Art of Shaving, while ladies’ options include Nars makeup, Yves Saint Laurent fragrances and Bumble and Bumble hair products. Womenswear includes contemporary looks from Alice + Olivia, Helmut Lang and Theory, and men can browse styles by John Varvatos and Ted Baker. Also be sure to score big-name gender-neutral jewelry and accessories, such as watches and sunglasses from Burberry and Gucci.
One of the most popular—and largest—department stores brims with men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, handbags, shoes and lingerie. Famous for hawking modern designer brands at up to 65 percent off, the emporium makes it easy to score marked-down merchandise such as women’s Seven7 jeans, Façonnable sweaters and Rachel by Rachel Roy flats. Guys can find New Balance workout pants, Kidrobot tees and Isaac Mizrahi ties. While there are locations in Brooklyn, Queens and the Upper West Side, the original Financial District spot still hawks the best brands and quantity of goods—that is, if you can stomach the crowds.
The prices may be comparable to those of other upscale stores, but the merchandise (a mix of private-label and designer handbags, jewelry and cosmetics) sets this luxury outpost apart from its competitors. Although Bendel’s doesn’t sell clothing, its extensive collection of accessories—No. 7 leather handbags, Hand Me Down rings and Ray-Ban sunglasses—more than makes up for it. Browse the beauty products to find Clark’s Botanicals skin care line, the Scent of Departure perfume and Dr. Hauschka products.Read more
This once-frumpy big-box shop has become exponentially cooler. It carries everything from clothing and accessories to cosmetics and home furnishings, plus the store has adopted its high-end counterparts’ trick of placing visually enticing pop-ups throughout the store to show off affordable designer diffusion lines, including private labels such as Pearl by Georgina Chapman of Marchesa, Nicole by Nicole Miller and Joe Fresh. Men can find the similarly contemporary looks with hip brand names such as William Rast and Levi’s. Reliable private labels are still in store, including Liz Claiborne and Worthington for ladies, and Izod for men. Every location in NYC features a fully stocked Sephora shop for all your beauty needs.
Often overlooked when compared to more glamorous department stores, this classic mainstay offers an ever-reliable selection of clothing and accessories, minus the overwhelming crowds. Ladies and gents will find curated collections from designer brands including DKNY, Pink Tartan and Lafayette 148 New York. The men’s section has a broad array of options, from office-ready Calvin Klein suits to casual Polo Ralph Lauren pants. Make sure to browse the chic cosmetics counter for loot, including Lancôme mascara, Estée Lauder skin care products, Deborah Lippmann nail lacquer and Bobbi Brown blush.Read more
For sheer breadth of stock, this shopping behemoth is hard to beat. The 10 floors of the Herald Square flagship carry popular brands (such as Levi’s and DKNY) mixed with in-house lines (Impulse, INC International Concepts and Bar III) and exclusive designer diffusion collections (Rachel by Rachel Roy and Michael by Michael Kors). Men can dress up their work looks with Kenneth Cole Reaction ties and shoes, or stay low-key with beach-ready Tommy Bahama button-down shirts. Standouts for women include feminine Betsey Johnson dresses, Jessica Simpson ballet flats and Coach crossbody bags. Stop by the beauty counter for skin care products, grooming supplies and scents for both sexes, such as Chanel perfume, Dior cosmetics and Jean Paul Gaultier cologne.
This big-box chain (with locations in the five boroughs) houses of-the-moment fashions and a sprawling footwear selection that rivals most shoe stores, all at up to 60 percent off regular department-store prices. Its constantly rotating stock consists of current-season designer pieces and trendy no-name incarnations. Though the merchandise flies off the shelves quickly, you can expect to find staple items like jackets ($50), heels ($35), sweaters ($30) and jeans ($90–$100) from designers including 7 for All Mankind, Betsey Johnson, Theory, Free People and James Perse.
This discount department store offers leftover items from Nordstrom and its online counterpart at 50 to 60 percent off retail value. Just to whet your appetite, ogle these numbers: more than 1,000 handbags, 2,000 ties, 3,000 pairs of premium jeans, 25,000 pairs of shoes. Men can find complete looks such as a John Varvatos Star USA vest ($69), shirt ($60) and jeans ($189), along with a tie ($95), fedora ($50) and oxfords ($248). Ladies can pick out an outfit too, with a Roberto Cavalli blazer ($1,565), tank ($525), jeans ($595) and sandals ($775).Read more
This high-end department store literally has everything—a brow bar, a nail art bar and even some snazzy holiday windows. Stomach the crowds for the sporadic sales. A soft Polo Ralph Lauren V-neck sweater for $50 instead of $125? Yes, please! But its big designer names such as AG, Badgley Mischka, Balmain, Cynthia Rowley, Eberjay, Fendi and more that keep shoppers strolling in.Read more
With customers ranging from college students to fashionistas on a budget, Target really has something to suit everyone. Search the large housewares section for Union Collection futons ($60–$200) and Carson desks ($99–$100) as well as decorative items such as Room Essentials dining sets ($20) and Mudhut bedding ($70–$100). Don’t miss the surprisingly on-trend clothing, which often includes the diffusion lines of such high-end designers as Kate Young, Prabal Gurung and Missoni. The private labels are also worth browsing; check out the Mossimo skirts ($18–$25), Xhilaration jackets ($28–$40) and Merona sweaters ($20–$25).
With locations in every borough, T.J. Maxx sates discount divas’ appetites with clothing and accessories from current seasons at up to 60 percent off. Thousands of high-end duds make their way through the doors each week, so be on the lookout for finds like Cynthia Rowley dresses ($30) and Diane von Furstenberg metallic wedges ($50). Scour the racks for runway styles from high-end brands such as Armani, Elie Tahari, Valentino, and Elizabeth and James, plus leather handbags ($60–$200), office-ready dresses ($30–$60), men’s dress shirts ($25–$40) and casual pants ($25–$40). Save some cash on decorating with funky furnishings such as throw pillows ($17–$25) and decorative knickknacks ($8–$15).
Featuring under-the-radar European brands such as Veneno en la Piel, Goldie London and Trollied Dolly, you’re sure to find exclusive garb that isn’t available anywhere else in the city. Look for ultramod garments like Miss Patina frocks mixed with edgier pieces such as Valarie blazers. Among the accessories are Rock & Royal stone necklaces and Leather Satchel Co. purses, while shoe highlights consist of Michael Antonio heels and Le Bunny Bleu sneakers. Men’s offerings are almost all by Vlov, encompassing suits ($248–$798) and coats ($258–$578) to pants ($98–$358) and scarves ($48–$128).Read more