Blessedly uncluttered and color-coded, Amarcord's medley of upscale European clothing and accessories dates to the 1940s. Fancy lines (YSL, Pucci, Dior) and ones you've never heard of but are about to totally fall in love with are given equal rack real estate.
You'll fight crowds at the Canadian retail giant's double-decker stateside flagship, but while its distinctive in-house brands, an outstanding denim selection and gentle price tags justify some elbowing, remember that the sunlit second floor is far less trafficked.
Think of Erica Kiang as your personal shopper. Only she shops the entire world. Every six weeks, Kiang embarks on a global pilgrimage and brings back treasures like Peruvian oil vials, Spanish-print pants, Korean denimwear and a particular Japanese meowing cat camera we're sort of obsessed with.
An American flag and worn wooden armoire get the message across that Duo, started by two Minnesota-born sisters, is an homage to both the past and patriotism. The store favors emerging local designers who produce in the U.S., as well as vintage staples like a flannel-lined khaki anorak and brown leather ankle boots.
We've always loved Dolce Vita for wedges and booties that don't cost much but look like they do. Now, with a new location (not yet open at press time), its steadily expanding line of apparel (silk printed blouses, A-line skirts, cozy knit ponchos) is becoming a budget-friendly force in its own right.
First you spot the red suede pumps. Then you spy the Karen Walker sunglasses. Next you get to a shelf with Collina Strada clutches and over there, you see an ivory pintucked top. Then it hits you: This store is like getting trapped inside a giant closet owned by the coolest girl ever.