New York City on a Budget

by Aaron Barker


The Dilemma
Your heart tells you to drape yourself in couture and head to Lincoln Center for opening night of La Bohème. Alas, your bank account tells you: H&M or nothin', baby! But even in one of the wealthiest cities on the planet, you can live the luxe life for less.

Rags to Riches
If the price tag on a scarf at Bergdorf's makes your credit card go into a seizure, don't console yourself by pressing your nose up against the window à la Holly Golightly. Down an espresso, roll up your sleeves, and hit a sample sale. At these bargain bonanzas, held regularly throughout the city, duds and accessories from Jimmy Choo, Lulu Guinness, Dolce & Gabbana, and the like can be had for up to 75 percent off. Hit them up early—in-the-know New Yorkers don't mess around when it comes to snatching up the best finds. Sign up for e-mails from the New York edition of Daily Candy or check New York magazine's list of weekly and annual sales. Barneys' much-anticipated Warehouse Sale (held at the Chelsea Co-op store in late summer and late winter) is a favorite among frugal fashionistas; prepare for long lines and ruthless shoppers ready to trample you for a $50 Marc Jacobs blouse.

Going, Going…
Even if you're unprepared to engage in a bidding war, auctions at Christie's and Sotheby's are a fun way to test what you learned in Art History 101 and are a glimpse into the inner sanctum of the high-rolling art world. Many house sales are free and open to the public—anything from Chinese ceramics to European furniture might be on the block—and since bidding for some lots starts as low as $500, you might even (gulp) raise your paddle. For something more accessible, local charity Housing Works arranges secondhand treasures—a pair of Christian Louboutin loafers, say, or a vase by Scabetti—in clever, vintage-inspired window displays that rival anything at Bergdorf's. Window-shop at one of its seven locations, then log on to housingworksauctions.com to place a bid. Recent steals include a pair of Gucci aviators ($56) and a Gianfranco Ferré leather bag ($50).

Barneys' Chelsea Co-op
236 W. 18th St.
Tel: 212 593 7800

20 Rockefeller Plaza
Tel: 212 636 2000

1334 York Ave.
Tel: 212 606 7000

Housing Works
157 E 23rd St.
Tel: 212 529 5955

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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