The Perils of Great Shopping

The Perils of Great Shopping

Shoes, shoes and more shoes at Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th

OK, so I should have learned this lesson by now: If I am in need of a couple of new tops for work, I should NOT go to Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th–it’s not that the recently-opened discount offspring of the famous retailer, Saks, doesn't have an impressive selection of marked-down sweaters, blouses and tops in designs both edgy and classic. It’s just that there is a strange, gentle whispering that runs in the air throughout the store, “go to the shoe department, go to the shoe department. Then go to the bags department, go to the bags department.” Because clothing, you see, is probably my fourth or fifth retail love, with shoes coming in a definite first and bags a serious runner-up. And the shoe department at Off 5th—my oh my oh my. Rows and rows and rows of strappy leather sandals, high-heeled and wedged pumps, running shoes, fancy flip-flops, ballet slippers, flats. With colors, buckles, sequins. From conservative to Lady Gaga-ish. And with the prices so gentle, it’s almost impossible to stop putting one shoe box on top of another for the checkout line.

And, then (sigh) there are the bags. Yummy, buttery leathers from Badgley Mischka, Versace, Valentino, Judith Leiber. Clutches and purses and hobos and more. And, these, too at prices way below standard department store and boutique prices for these designers.

Finally, a word must be said about the shopping experience itself. With two levels, the 1,000 square-foot space store is open and bright, clean and sleek, with departments well-spaced out and easy access to clothing that is not overly-jammed together on racks. For, as any good bargain shopper knows, that is often not the case in a discount store, where it can feel a little bit like you’re stuck on the 6 subway during rush hour, with bodies pressed together and arms flailing wildly for the dress on the hangar in front of you (or, the subway strap, if you actually are on the 6 train).

So, here is the bottom line: If you are looking for a pretty new blouse or skirt, or dress, or pair of pants, or fine and costume jewelry, or some chic new accessories, I highly recommend Off 5th. They even have a Gilt Groupe Shop, the Gilt’s first non-digital location, and a men’s department as well. But if you do need any of the above mentioned items and also have a substance problem—and by substance, I am of course talking about strappy sandals or a soft midnight blue Badgley Mischka shoulder bag—then I suggest you go to the store with a very strict chaperone.

» Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, 125 E.57th St., 212.634.0730