Though the store is full of designer wares, the floor-plan at Barneys New York makes it feel more manageable and easy to navigate than the other Union Square heavy-hitters. The main entryway draws shoppers into the jewelry and bag salon, where in-the-round, glass-topped counters allow for easy browsing (and attentive customer assistance). An iron spiral staircase leads the way to the women's shoe salon, where you'll find heels, booties and flats from Alaïa, Chloé, Miu Miu, and Barneys' in-house line. The women's designer and contemporary collections are arranged on labeled rolling racks positioned on the checkerboard-tiled floors. Another winding staircase leads up to the top floor men's salon, where shirts of every shade are shelved in orderly rows. The impeccably dressed store clerks are known for efficient service.
San Francisco's department stores are all conveniently clustered within a few blocks of one another in the retail-packed blocks surrounding Downtown’s Union Square. The luxurious list goes on; in addition to the institutions recommended below, SF is also home to a Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom (not to mention a Nordstrom Rack). Each store has its own distinct feel, though all are impeccably merchandised. Saks Fifth Avenue is easiest to ogle on-the-go, since you can spiral up the escalators and circle each floor in succession. Barneys New York feels least sprawling and is the most manageable to navigate. Neiman Marcus separates designer labels into individual open-door mini-shops, creating a refreshing visual cohesion when viewing each collection as a whole. There are also impressive design features to admire in each, including the awe-inspiring stained-glass dome at Neiman Marcus, the wrought-iron staircase at Barneys and the opulent townhouse vibe at Wilkes Bashford, which has more in common with upscale clothing stores than mall-anchoring behemoths.