635 Madison Ave., nr. 60th St.; 212-750-5153; go to searlenyc.com for other locations
Searle is known more for its sportswear and its dedication to warm and good-looking winter outerwear than as a lingerie resource, but the mini-chain has a surprisingly solid undergarment assortment, anchored by a deep selection of Hanky Pankys (particularly at the Madison Avenue flagship). The name is cutesy, but Hanky Pankys are colorful, comfortable (even in the thong style), and generally invisible under clothes, because the wide, gentle elastic lace used to make them doesn’t create grooves in your hip flesh like Cosabella’s do.
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).