One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday afternoon is taking in Madison Avenue shops with my friend Bekki. Both of us have insane work schedules, so we like to lazily meet up after we’ve slept in – no planning or time constraints allowed. Our casual strolls begin in the Carnegie Hill area and usually end around the East 50s, several hours later.
Madison Avenue is a beautiful stretch of high-end shops and cafés, and while I usually just drool over all of the designer labels that I can’t afford, it’s one of the few New York City streets where I don’t mind window shopping. Here are my top perusing picks.
Yura on Madison (Corner of 92nd)
Whenever I work from my client’s apartment on 92nd and Park Avenue, I walk over to Yura during my lunch break to pick up a salad or sandwich. It’s constantly swarming with Upper East Siders and private school kids, and offers some of my favorite “to go” food in the city. The smoked turkey baguette with lemon mayo is amazing, as well as the chicken and goat cheese salad. Every item is made fresh that day, and sells out quickly.
Olive and Bette’s (Between 80th and 81st)
first stopped into this boutique last month, when Bekki was in search of the perfect beanie with a pompom on top (she found one here). The shop is cute, quirky, and carries several lesser-known brands, so it’s great when you want to purchase something mid-range that not everyone else will be wearing. I’m a fan of their knitwear, graphic tees, and costume jewelry.
Sant Ambroeus (Between 77th and 78th)
his café has the best iced lattes I’ve tried in NYC, and the food is fantastic. Their sandwiches and dessert selection make me feel as if I’m back in Europe, and you’ll usually hear the customers speaking in French. I especially like how the coffee area on the inside is set up like a proper bar, which gives it a swanky edge.
Christian Louboutin (Between 75th and 76th)
Few shoes are as recognizable as those with the red sole. Although Louboutins are available at any of New York’s high-end department stores, it’s always nice to stop in and visit the actual boutique. It’s quite small, but they carry their full range of styles, from boots to stilettos. Having an intense love for everything that sparkles, I always hover over the rhinestone pumps.
Ralph Lauren (Corner of 72nd)
Ralph Lauren’s flagship store is as gorgeous as one would imagine. Not only are the window displays absolutely stunning, but the shop is located in a renovated mansion – so the architecture alone is worth seeing. Spanning four floors, it carries all of Ralph’s women’s labels, as well as his home line. The men’s and children’s shops are also located nearby.
Ladurée (Between 71st and 70th)
I had my first Ladurée macaron four years ago, and all I could think was “Where have you been all my life?” Venturing into the shop is like stepping into the early 1900s. The displays are a wash of gold and pastels, and the friendly staff is dressed in period-inspired uniforms. Ladurée is pricey (I saw one of the large gift boxes of macarons retailing for more than $500!), but it’s definitely worth the occasional treat. I highly recommend their pistachio macarons.
Dolce & Gabbana (Between 68th and 69th)
Dolce & Gabbana is one of my favorite designer labels, second only to Dior. It’s fierce and fabulous; so, naturally, I love checking out their Madison Avenue boutique. The staff is surprisingly laid back, so it’s a very comfortable atmosphere rather than snooty. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with their most recent collection, but the window displays are wonderful. They always showcase their most popular styles from past seasons, including my “soul mate collection” – the 2007 line of sparkly gowns with metal corset belts. If I could afford it, I would totally buy one of those ensembles. I would even wear it while grocery shopping at Fairway.
Agent Provocateur (Between 61st and 62nd)
In my humble opinion, Agent Provocateur trumps La Perla. I love the sexiness and cheeky attitude of their designs. So when I’m in a “Moulin Rouge” type of mood, it’s fun to stop in and browse. A girl can never have too many pairs of thigh-high stockings.
Have you window shopped on Madison Avenue? The holidays are a wonderful time of the year to browse or buy. We’d love to hear about your favorite Madison Avenue shops!