"I buy everything here -- Pamprin, calcium supplements, film . . . ," raves Elle senior beauty editor Sarah Brown as she leads us into Clyde's, the unlikely Madison Avenue source for inexpensive standard drugstore fare as well as the high-priced European potions you'd expect. Having tossed all of last summer's expired sunblocks, we've been desperate to stock a fresh dop kit for summer weekend getaways. Determined not to spend our entire paycheck on Clarins, we've enlisted Brown to pick out the essentials.
Brown starts with a sturdy but fashionable cosmetics bag that won't stain. She loves Bendel's classic brown-and-white-striped roll-up kit (usually $45; currently on sale for $31.50), but at Clyde's, she picks a floral pouch from Nordic House ($20). "It's waterproof and unlined," she notes approvingly.
To fill it, we make a beeline for the hair section. "It's all about leave-in conditioner for the beach," proclaims Brown. One favorite: Phytoplage Sun Protection Oil ($17), which should be combed through wet, briny locks immediately after swimming. "You have to protect while you're out, or the sun and salt will turn your hair to straw," she explains. Back at home, Brown lathers with ultragentle Rene Furterer After Sun Shampoo ($16).
Before we even get to skin products, Brown stresses that she never, ever tans. "People looking for sun on their face are out-of-their-mind crazy. In Europe, people make fun of me, but whatever!" (Her skin is very, very smooth). Brown always splurges on a separate sunscreen for her face ("I don't want to come back with no tan and acne"). She spots a tube of Mustela Sunblock Stick SPF 20 ($8.50). "My favorite!" she gushes. As for her body, she's happy with regular drugstore brands: Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweatproof Dry Lotion SPF 48 ($9.49) for the beach and Avon Skin So Soft Lotion SPF 15 ($10.99) for evenings (it doubles as bug repellent). Before bed, she uses detergent-free Neutrogena Cleansing Lotion ($8) on her face and Green Stuff After Sun & Wind Moisturizer ($5), an electric-green aloe-vera gel that's her "beach-bag staple" on her body.
Grooming is easy at the beach ("Salt and sand are great for exfoliating"). But polish is a must for fashionable toes: "This summer, fuchsia's really hot. Or pale coral -- but if you don't have tan feet, don't do it." (We go the fuchsia route with Tony & Tina's "Kundalini" polish, $10). Brown usually skips the tan toes part, too -- "I like to be pale" -- but if you don't, try Lancôme Soleil Flash Bronzer ($23). "Tanning your legs is the fastest way to look relaxed, rested -- like you have a Hamptons house," she concedes. And gives it a second thought: "Let's put this in our bag."
Clyde's, 926 Madison Ave., near 74th St. (744-5050); Henri Bendel, 712 Fifth Ave., near 56th St. (247-1100).
Picks of the Week
Philippe Adec and Equipment's sample sale has lots of the company's tailored, youthful basics at 60 percent off: from $54 for a knit top to $50 for a pencil skirt to $150 for a slim knee-length jacket. Sizes 2-14. Morelle, 209 W. 38th St., second floor (391-8070); cash only; Wed.-Fri. 9-6:30, Sat. 11-5; 6/9-6/12.
Donna Karan and DKNY's sample-and-stock sale offers tons of spring fashion at half price or below: men's suits are from $350, women's jackets from $200, kids' stuff all under $25. Parsons School of Design, 560 Seventh Ave., at 40th St. (741-2660); A.E., M.C., V.; Tues.-Fri. 8-6:30, Sat. 9-5; 6/8-6/12.
Ghurka's rugged, safari-inspired leather wallets, handbags, and duffels are perfect for weekends. At the sample sale, all are 50-80 percent off, from $25-$400. 60 E. 56th St., 4th floor (223-2511); A.E., M.C., V.; Tues.-Fri. 9-6; 6/8-6/11.
Broadway Panhandler's yard sale has loads of cookware, table linens, and gadgets at up to 70 percent off. Cuisinart cookware sets are $99.95; Krups coffeemakers are $24.95; dinnerware is $2.95-$5.95; and there's a ton more. 477 Broome St. (966-3434); A.E., M.C., V.; Sat. 11-5; 6/12.
Transfer International is the kind of resale shop that sells current Helmut Lang, Gucci, and Prada for at least half off. Now everything's even less: a Prada suit is $200, a Gucci men's shirt is $45. 594 Broadway, near Houston St., suite 1002 (941-5472); A.E., checks; Tues.-Sun. 1-8; 6/8-6/20.