Embroidered tunics, sarongs, and breezy sundresses -- so hot this summer that they're more wardrobe necessity than trend -- are flying off high-end racks at prices that make you wonder whether it pays to be a bohemian. Once you've recovered from sticker shock, check out these five stores, where you'll find summer throw-ons that are sure to become your favorites for under $25.
For traditional Indian garb, travel to the east -- to Jackson Heights. There you'll find bolts of luxurious material for sarongs (prices vary, but at Chands and Mitus, gold-threaded fabric is about $6 a yard), beaded leather sandals (pictured, $22 at Butala Emporium), and silk saris (starting at $10, in several shops on 74th Street). At Chahat Fashion, vibrantly colored cotton dresses are just $15. Wear them as is, or, after a few snips of the scissors, as a pretty top. In Manhattan, India Imports has lots of soft, printed cotton T-shirts ($15-$30), airy slip dresses (mostly $20-$30), and light, embroidered tunics (mostly $20-$40). Or you can buy in bulk -- at India Cottage Emporium, they'll sell New York readers who bring in this page sarongs at wholesale prices regardless of quantity purchased -- cotton sarongs are $48 for a dozen (or $4 each).
In Jackson Heights, Queens: Chands and Mitus, 37-52 74th St., near Roosevelt St. (718-639-0606); Butala Emporium Inc., 37-46 74th St. (718-899-5590); Chahat Fashion, 37-50 74th St. (718-335-0301). In Manhattan: India Imports, 56 W. 8th St. (212-358-8928); India Cottage Emporium, 1150 Broadway, at 27th St. (212-685-6943).
Plus: This week's best sales.