Good for you. Prada and Gucci have recently introduced haute little nothings, but you might want to check out the city's lingerie-only shops. La Petite Coquette (51 University Place; 473-2478), a tiny pink emporium, has some of the prettiest underpinnings around, wispy little numbers by haute names, as well as La Perla and Cosabella's saucy bras and G-strings in luxe fabrics.
Snappy unmentionables from such hot European lingerie designers as Chantal Thomass, Princess Tam-Tam, Fifi Chachanil, Leigh Bantivoglio, and Deborah Marquit can be found in the shoebox-size Le Corset (80 Thompson Street; 334-4936).
Samantha Jones (996 Lexington Avenue, at 72nd Street; 628-7720) is mostly filled with this fetching diva of underthings's own designs. She does ribbon bras in scads of colors and, for fall, divine little splurges in gray, aubergine, raspberry, and ombre.
Period and Vintage Jewelry
After the accessory-less looks of the last couple of years, I'm hankering for jewelry, and I haven't a clue where to look. I'm drawn to period or chunky costume pieces. Any suggestions?
Baubles of serious pedigree fill the glass-obelisk vitrines at Edith Weber & Associates (994 Madison Avenue, near 77th Street; 570-9668). This family-owned business (now run by Edith's son Barry) prides itself on its diversity: Renaissance and retro pieces and everything in between, with the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries a specialty. Each piece is handpicked based on its condition and on whether it's an excellent example of its type. Though the gems go up to $80,000, there are gold stickpins for as little as $150, earrings for $300.
Fabulous twentieth-century classics from such haute houses as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Boucheron are always available at Primavera Gallery (808 Madison Avenue, at 68th Street; 288-1569). Audrey Friedman has just refurbished her shop, but it's still home to her special passions -- Art Deco and Art Nouveau gems by Réné Lalique, Georges Fouquet, and assorted other top European and American designers.
If you're into chunky, James II Galleries
(11 East 57th Street, fourth floor; 355-7040) offers a splendid variety of Victorian costume (or secondary) jewelry: Scottish agate, intaglio, French and English paste, cut-steel, jet, marcasite. Afraid of the pesky prospect of stagecoach robberies, Victorians would have worn these brooches on country weekends (leaving their important gems in London). These days, they'd look rather groovy on fall's bulky sweaters.
Once, gold and bold ruled at Kentshire Galleries (37 East 12th Street, 673-6644; and at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Avenue; 872-8652), but recently Marcie Imberman and Ellen Israel have become enamored of diamonds. So, along with their signature architectural pieces, they now have fab Victorian and Edwardian diamond butterfly, floral spray, and bow brooches; foliated diamond necklaces; and diamond bracelets. Their new love is pricey, but there are always gold brooches starting at around $1,500 that are the antithesis of ordinary.
Dogs are the obsession at Malvina L. Solomon (1021 Lexington Avenue, near 73rd Street; 535-5200), and they appear in sterling silver, copper, Bakelite, rhinestone, marcasite, and glass, all neatly arranged on velvet-backed trays. But if you should be into boats, horses, palm trees, or flowers, they're here as well. Much of it is funky forties, but there are Bakelite cuff bracelets from the thirties and forties, vintage Mexican sterling-silver bracelets, neat copper pins from the fifties, and some early Georg Jensen sterling-silver brooches. It's all decidedly affordable: Except for the Jensen pieces, there's little here for more than $150.
Walking into Ilene Chazanof (by appointment only; 254-5564) for the first time is one of those moments collectors dream about. It's so chock-full of everything that it's impossible to negotiate the aisles jammed with boxes, filing cabinets, small pieces of furniture, and glass-fronted vitrines without sending something flying. Chazanof claims she has everything from plastic to platinum, but don't chalk that up to her exuberance: She really does. And, though you seem to be surrounded by total chaos, the jewelry is obsessively organized. Ask Chazanof for a faux-amethyst Schiaparelli bracelet or an Eisenberg clip, and you'll have it in seconds. The vintage costume jewelry is filed alphabetically by designer (from Art to Weiss, and including Boucher, Hattie Carnegie, Chanel, Coro, Trifari); Egyptian Revival, Victorian, Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, and retro by period. Figurals -- animals, bugs, palm trees, sports figures, fish -- each have drawers of their own. You're guaranteed to leave happy with the prices -- there are scads of things for $5, and the bulk of her jewelry stock is under $100, with not much costing more than $500. All you'll need is lots of time -- it's a playground for the acquisitive -- and highly developed decision-making capabilities.
Tennis and Soccer
I need a new racquet and soccer stuff for my kid, but it's hard to get personal attention at mega-sports stores. Where should I go?
The antithesis of a sporting superstore, Mason's Tennis Mart (911 Seventh Avenue near 57th Street; 757-5374) has a staff that will help you navigate through the maze of racquet possibilities. Owner Mark Mason has a passion for the sport, most of his staff are players, and they'll ask you dozens of questions (how often do you play? Are you a competitive or recreational player? What's your swing speed?) before selecting a racquet they judge right for you and your game. Mason carries only top-quality names -- Wilson, Head, and Prince -- and the more esoteric Volkl and Fischer of Austria and Yonex of Japan. But he'll special-order any one a customer may want, and he encourages play-testing on freshly strung racquets: The $5-a-day demo charges can be applied toward the purchase. Surprisingly, you don't pay extra for such personal care; prices are competitive with the big boys in town.
A Yorkville institution, Soccer Sport Supply Company (1745 First Avenue, near 90th Street; 427-6050) has been around for 65 years. Its friendly staff is expert at rescuing the sartorially and equipment-confused soccer moms and dads whose kids are obsessed with the hot sport of the moment. Though the trappings are bare-bones, this shop is the purveyor of the most complete stock of soccer and rugby equipment in the country, importing much of it from around the world. So if your junior jock can't play without Diadora Classico shoes, an Umbro shinguard, or Doss foul-weather shorts, your problems are solved.
I'm tired of those ill-fitting rental tuxedos with their elasticized waists. Where can I buy a tux that's cheap but stylish?
Most rentals are $100 a pop, so if you have even just two black-tie events a year, buying makes financial as well as sartorial sense. Moe Ginsburg (162 Fifth Avenue, at 21st Street; 242-3482) is certainly drab and bare-bones, but you might not even mind the industrial pipe racks and fluorescent fixtures when you take a look at the jam-packed rows of tuxes -- and the prices. Bill Blass, Oliver, and Italian designers Leonardo and Manzoni are some of the names, and there's always a full range of sizes (from extra-short to portly). Most of the formalwear is tagged around $320, but if you can wait for a sale (not difficult, since there are sales six months of the year) you'll find a good selection for as little as $220. At no-frills Eisenberg & Eisenberg (16 West 17th Street; 627-1290) you can also save a bundle on a designer tux. Though you'll find fewer racks and slightly higher prices ($199 to $585), there's always a full range of sizes and names, such as Perry Ellis, Bill Blass, Dior, Chiavari, and Ralph Lauren Chaps. Don't expect to find any ultravoguish Guccis or Super 100s (wool from Australian merino sheep) at either place, but all the tuxes are wool and classically cut, which means they'll be in style for at least the next eight years. Unlike with rentals, however, alterations are extra, and you'll have to spring for a shirt and accessories.