Former model and current fashion blogger Tricia Lewis has a shopping secret that might surprise the city's best-dressed set.
Given the choice between the most elite boutiques in SoHo and the endless array of chain stores and tourist-magnet Macy's on 34th Street's Herald Square, Lewis always chooses to shop in Midtown.
"SoHo and 34th Street have a lot more similar options than they’ve ever had before," explained Lewis, who runs the 34th Street Partnership's "Fashion Herald" blog. Lewis, who lives in Brooklyn, said she's been zigzagging the neighborhood in search of deals for the past three and a half years, and has come up with a list of tips for how to get the most out of Herald Square's shopping scene.
Lewis said right now is one of the best times of year to snag big deals, with winter clearance sales offering discounts of 75 to 90 percent through the end of the week. She added that 34th Street also has the benefit of ending up with all of the leftovers from the rest of the store locations around the city, meaning better luck around Herald Square.
As for where to shop, Lewis said she's a Daffy's devotee thanks to the store's lesser-known European designers, heels and more eclectic fashions. She recommended Zara for business clothes and Strawberry for its cheap, flirty party tops, stockings and cute umbrellas. She also recommended new arrival Desigual at 358 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street.
"A lot of people are scared of it because of the color, but there are great finds in there," she said.
To cut down on the time spent in line at the fitting room, Lewis said she tries to hit stores first thing in the morning or after 2 p.m., and suggested shopping at Forever 21 only when it's raining outside.
While digging through racks can take some time, Lewis has made some great finds, she said, including a pair of coveted Pierre Hardy boots at the Gap for $8, Swarovski-encrusted Ugg boots and a collection of faux fur capelets.
On a recent hunt, Lewis found a pair of three-quarter-length sweatpant "knickers" with a drawstring waist, like the ones she'd seen at a handful of recent runway shows, for $49.95 at H&M.
Another favorite spot is the second floor of Macy's.
"It's little boutique after little boutique," said Lewis, as she browsed her way through racks of patterned sun dresses and earthy knits in tans, grays and creams.
"A lot of this stuff isn’t what people think they would find at Macy's," she said.
Among her favorite designers are Rachel by Rachel Roy and the casual, comfortable "Alternative" label, whose cotton jerseys were marked down from $42 to $25.20.
"There's nothing I love more in my closet than something you throw on and it makes you feel good and look good," she said.