Tipsheet: Thrift Shops for Bridal GownsAngel Street Thrift Shop
118 W. 17th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-229-0546
We're told that conscientious members of the fashion industry drop off their vintage clothing, photo-shoot props, designer samples, and, occasionally, wedding dresses at the artfully arranged Angel Street Thrift Shop. (Designer Miguel Cruz donated a wide selection of wedding dresses last spring.) Gowns range from $50 to $600. Angel Street is best known for its offbeat collection of household items (lead-crystal vases, antique carpetbags, taxidermic animals), so leave time to browse.
Housing Works Thrift Shop
143 W. 17th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-366-0820
All four locations of the Housing Works Thrift Shop conglomerate store their donated wedding dresses at the main warehouse outside the city, until they have enough for a wedding event. This past June, the 17th Street store displayed about 60 dresses at its Summer Solstice event, including some by Badgley Mischka, Vera Wang, and Morgane Le Fay (from $80 to $200). The next wedding-dress sale will occur during the store's Fall Preview, which begins on September 8 at the 17th Street location.
Allan & Suzi
416 Amsterdam Ave., at 80th St.; 212-724-7445
Known for its theatrical window displays, Allan & Suzi sometimes gets designer wedding gowns (for example, a simple Vera Wang, priced at $800), but vintage eveningwear is the real find. Some fantastic alternatives to the ubiquitous strapless A-line include white fifties-style dresses with tulle skirts ($200 to 300), a satin one-shoulder couture gown by Lemington Ridley ($800), and a little bias-cut number from the late twenties ($400).
The Bridal Garden
54 W. 21st St., nr. Sixth Ave., Ste. 907; 212-252-0661
Geraldine Brower, director of development for Sheltering Arms Children's Service, collects hundreds of designer and couture gowns to sell at The Bridal Garden for a discount of 50 to 75 percent. From Alvina Valenta to Ulla-Maija, Monique Lhuillier to Richard Glasgow, Amsale to Manalé, offerings at this thrift shop make up the widest range of discount dresses in the city. Call for an appointment.
Michael's: The Consignment Shop for Women
1041 Madison Ave., nr. 79th St., second fl.; 212-737-7273
Michael's: The Consignment Shop for Women feels like the real deal: It even has a separate bridal salon on the second floor, where each guest has 30 minutes to try on as many as five gowns. The salon is usually stocked with about 40 dresses by designers like Amsale, Werkstatt, Carolina Herrera, and (of course) Vera Wang. (Prices range from $395 to $2,000.) Although most dresses are "delicately used," some are brand-new, and many dresses have their original label intact.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Thrift Shop
1440 Third Ave., at 82nd St.; 212-535-1250
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Thrift Shop is known for its great selection of designer clothes and is undergoing renovations within the next year to make it "even more exclusive." It's had wedding gowns by Carolina Herrera, Vera Wang, and Priscilla of Boston (from $200 to $700), as well as Valentino dresses and Chanel suits that could easily substitute. Need a wrap for a winter wedding? Furs are on sale starting in October.
Cancer Care Thrift Shop
1480 Third Ave., nr. 83rd St.; 212-879-9868
Smaller than Sloan-Kettering, Cancer Care Thrift Shop has a limited supply of wedding gowns (it gets about three to five per month), but it's still worth a look. Dresses by designers like Vera Wang start around $250. While there, keep an eye out for stylish accessories like Judith Leiber and Chanel bags, and Manolo Blahnik shoes (about $85 to $125).
City Opera Thrift Shop
222 E. 23rd St., nr. Third Ave.; 212-684-5344
City Opera Thrift Shop saves up its best dresses for its fashion events, like the twice-yearly vintage shows, which feature dresses, coats, and suits from circa 1940 to the swinging seventies. A Pauline Trigère dress might cost about $300; an Yves Saint Laurent coat, $400. There will also be a few things for the groom, like Hermès ties ($25). The next vintage event is set for October. If you miss that, there'll be another in March 2006
From the Fall 2005 New York Wedding Guide