MEG COHEN DESIGN
920 Broadway, nr. 20th St., Ste. 905 (212-966-3733); 12/2–12/6 and 12/16–12/20 (11–7).
What to Buy: Skinny cashmere scarves (from $85) are always the first to go; cashmere hats ($45) and fingerless gloves ($35), all 50 to 75 percent off, should last a bit longer.
How to Survive: Arrive at 3 p.m. You’ll skirt the lunch crowd and have two-plus hours before the after-work mob descends. If you want earlier dibs, join the morning line no later than 10:30.
For Twisted Basics
Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave., nr. 15th St. (212-226-8980); 11/16–12/2 (10:30–7).
What to Buy: Silk striped dresses ($99) and men’s and women’s striped hoodies ($35) and pants ($40) are all restocked daily.
How to Survive: Wear leggings and a tank if you’re a girl, and your least embarrassing undies if you’re a guy—there’s just a communal changing area. Everything is organized by price and gender, so navigation is easy. It’s always a madhouse in the morning, but things clear out around two.
260 Fifth Ave., nr. 28th St. (212-725-4996); 12/2 and 12/3 (8–8); 12/4 (8–7), 12/5 (9–1).
What to Buy: Thongs! They’re bright and punchy and all-around comfortable ($10).
How to Survive: Shoppers aren’t allowed to try on the underthings, so clear up any confusion between a low-rise, an original, and a petite low-rise by grabbing the one-page crib sheet when you first arrive. There are fitting rooms for trying on less skin-grabby items like camis, slips, and pajamas.
For Indie Designers
THISTLE & CLOVER
221 Dekalb Ave., nr. Clermont St., Ft. Greene (718-855-5577); 11/28–12/5, hours vary.
What to Buy: Light coats, silky tops, and knits from buzz-worthy names like Trovata, Geren Ford, and Rachel Comey, all of which is 20 to 40 percent off.
How to Survive: Sale items will be mixed in with regular-price merchandise, so be prepared to dig. Even though the store’s only nine months old and is located in an unlikely neighborhood (Fort Greene), the sales can be hectic.
231 W. 39th St., nr. Seventh Ave., Ste. 924 (212-398-2244); 12/2–12/5 (9–7); 12/8–12/12 (9:30–6).
What to Buy: Candy-colored toggle sweaters ($185), sweater dresses ($185), and crewnecks ($89) show that knits don’t have to be boring.
How to Survive: Chuck your coffee before heading in; the space is small and hot. No fitting rooms means dressing in layers is imperative. Unlike sales organized only by style, this one is arranged by color and style, so go in with a particular color scheme in mind, then attack your target area.
54 Greene St., at Broome St. (212-219-9343); 11/28–12/24 (11–8).
What to Buy: Baby crib sets (from $50) are heart-meltingly cute, and colorful graphic sheets and duvets ($95) mean you’ll the have the coolest-looking bed around.
How to Survive: It’s amazing how crisp linens can work the public into a frenzy. Avoid mornings altogether—just too crazy. The sweet spot is between one and five on weekdays, or between two and four on weekends.
972 Lexington Ave., nr. 70th St. (212-734-8199); 11/28–12/6 (10:30–6).
What to Buy: Chunky cocktail rings (from $195), dangly earrings (from $95), and clutches (from $85) for 20 to 30 percent off.
How to Survive: This is Jennifer Miller’s first major storewide sale, so we can’t predict lines, but the store’s tiny and could easily get crowded.
211 Mott St., nr. Prince St. (212-680-3023); 12/2–12/7 (noon–7).
What to Buy: Vintage and new eyewear from Laura Biagiotti, Porsche Design, and Carrera are half off and helpfully sorted by color and style.
How to Survive: If you’re not sure what’s new and what’s from the seventies, ask the staff, because vintages are mixed in throughout. Nolita locals, chronic late-risers that they are, will start to flood in around three, so get there earlier. And make sure your contacts are in, so you can actually see what you look like in your new frames.
35 Howard St., nr. Centre St. (212-219-2688); 11/28–12/11, hours vary.
What to Buy: The store’s current country theme is Japan, so expect everything Japanese, including men’s suits from Mister Hollywood, to fly off shelves. For women, it’s all about 2008 CFDA winner Alexander Wang’s baggy silk pleated pants (now $347).
How to Survive: Arrive early, and horde everything. If you’re not sure about something, grab it anyway. You can walk and ponder, but if you put it down, it’ll be gone.
ROGAN AND LOOMSTATE
91 Franklin St., nr. Broadway (646-827-7554); 11/29–12/7 (11–7).
What to Buy: Sharp sheath dresses ($50), tees ($20), and hoodies ($45) are cool without trying too hard.
How to Survive: Women with a waist size 27 or 28 and men between sizes 32 and 34 should shop in the mid-afternoon (peak time is around six), since those are the denim sizes that sell out the fastest. Fitting-room lines are notoriously long, but you can easily check yourself out in the many showroom mirrors.
DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
260 Fifth Ave., nr. 28th St. (no phone); 12/9–12/13, hours vary.
What to Buy: The wrap dresses are iconic ($150), but the leather jackets ($150) and evening wear ($200) have become huge hits since the fall runway shows.
How to Survive: Mornings, lunch hours, and Saturdays are always chaotic, so avoid if possible. In past years, vintage wraps were placed nearest the registers on the right. Chic knits were in bins at the back near the fitting rooms—perfect for rummaging while waiting in the long lines.
For Effortless Chic
386 Broadway, nr. Walker St., sixth fl. (212-532-3103); 12/11 (3–7), 12/12 and 12/13 (10–7).
What to Buy: Everything you can afford. There’s no hotter commodity in fashion right now.
How to Survive: Luckily the sale has moved from the old, cramped workspace in Soho. The new space is about the size of a city block. As with Opening Ceremony, horde everything. Wang has created some pieces exclusively for this sale, so swing by daily since new pieces are always being put out. Hit the ATM before you go—credit cards are only accepted with a $200 minimum purchase.