- Spring Flowers
538 Madison Ave., 212-207-4606
If there’s a family wedding—or an Oscar ceremony—in the offing, this is the place to splurge on that one portrait-worthy outfit. No crunchy crinoline or clip-on ties here but limo-ready pink silk party dresses and Italian wool tuxedos. Over-the-top is not out of the question—a pair of Simonetta faux-alligator slip-ons is $245, a boy’s Hickey Freeman cashmere coat is $595. Impeccable quality and classic charm make these pieces keepsakes, not just clothes.
- Old Navy
610 Sixth Ave., 212-645-0663
You can get quirky wardrobe mix-ins at H&M and bargain-priced party outfits at Daffy’s, but no other retailer can match Old Navy’s consistency and prices. It’s best for staples (T-shirts, jeans, socks), but strong too on trendy items that don’t betray their mass-produced origins, like a camo bikini with hot-pink piping ($16.50) and graphic punk-print surfing shorts ($12.50).
1534 Second Ave., 212-734-9292
While Lester’s—a mainstay for more than half a century—carries some traditional brands like Petit Bateau and Ralph Lauren, it really excels in its well-chosen selection of up-to-the-moment looks, from C&C California tees and True Religion jeans for girls to Quiksilver cargo pants and Diesel shirts for boys. Fashion-forward babies get their own department in the back.
- Jane’s Exchange
191 E. 3rd St., 212-677-0380
Jane’s sells gently worn—and sometimes never worn—kidswear and maternity clothes. With leggings for as little as a dollar, broken-in Gap jeans for $7, and a brand-new Absorba snowsuit for $30, why pay retail? Be sure to check out the kids’ shoe nook, where you can get deals on pre-owned European footwear. If you’ve got spotless clothes to unload, you’ll get a store credit worth 30 percent of the selling price.
TEENS AND TWEENS
- Berkley Girl
410 Columbus Ave., 212-877-4770
You can tell that somebody under 16 has a hand in this lively little shop, which stocks a perfectly attuned array of cute, spunky girls’ gear. The boutique has a focus group: A gaggle of 8-to-14-year-old advisers rate the merch. You’ll see their handiwork in the racks, where Juicy Couture and Seven for All Mankind hang side by side with emerging labels like Sugar Lips and Monkey Wear. Reasonable options include It jeans ($45) and bags by Le Sportsac (starting at $39).