They say New York is a shopper’s paradise. We’ve got the shops. It’s an image you think of when you think of NYC, women strolling down the sidewalks, lux (string handles, no plastic) shopping bags adorning her arms.
After my post featuring a little piece of consumerism (proclaiming I “NEED”ed it no less) it may come as no surprise that I rather like shopping. Fashion interests me for some reason. I’ve put thought into what to wear since the tender age of 5. I was the kid who refused to wear pants (haha, thus this was inevitable) and would only leave the house in a skirt or dress. I really developed my own signature style when from age 9-10 I demanded my hair be put into braids every day. Yes, claiming to have had a sense of style when my mother was still in charge of buying my clothes may seem silly, but I swear it’s true. Now, after an awkward adolescence- I was one of those kids who struggled to fit in a mold that I just didn’t belong in- of androgynous clothes and dying my hair pink or navy blue depending on my mood, I’m back to my roots. My hair is back to blonde, magenta and purple are easily my favorite colors, and skirts/dresses make up the majority of my wardrobe. Though some things, like my preference for bunnies! and kitties! adorning my chest, I’ve left in the past (phew).
So am I like a kid in a candy shop here in this “shopper’s paradise”, Fashion Capitol USA? I’m I spending my weekends arms adorned in colorful cute bags? Not quite. While I do love the gorgeously detailed window displays of Bergdorf Goodman, I’m too intimidated to actually enter the store. Someday I’ll put on dark sunglasses and just go in, I promise. While I’d love to witness some part of fashion week, I don’t own the key or have the connections to grant me access to the Bryant Park tents. While I’d love to buy pretty clothes, everything in NYC is insanely expensive and I’m a starving artist. It’s always something in this city, isn’t it? I’m too broke to even go bargain hunting in this city, that’s how bad it is.
Granted, I am extremely spoiled. The thrift and vintage stores I grew up in are unique to San Francisco. That’s my shoppers paradise. In New York “vintage” is synonymous with “special”, “one of a kind”, “expensive”. “Trendy”. Yep, vintage has been fashionable for a while. Especially in the recession. Thank god. The huge majority of my wardrobe, over 2/3 I’d venture, once belonged to someone else. The change in attitude towards second-hand changed my life. I went from kinda lame to kinda stylish almost overnight. My specialty is the $5 skirt and the $10 (or less) dress. Yes, I’m one of those people who takes pride that her entire outfit cost less than your pants. Yes, I have frugality ingrained into my being.
So what’s such a person to do in Expensive Capitol USA? For starters, I’ve embraced the yearly shopping spree. Most people do this in September, I’m forced to spree for my self when everyone normal is buying gifts for others- ie when I go home for Christmas. It’s a system that’s served me well for two years. It turns out there are cheap things to do in NYC if you look hard enough.
Lists all open bars in the city on any given night. Open bar=free alcohol. When not abused, one of the few things that helps nurse the wallet wounds cause by the typical $8 + cocktail price of most any Manhattan bar.
Having a Student ID
Pretending I’m still a student is my key to cheap fun in NY. I still look like a student and my ID says NOTHING about the time period I attended college. As a result I can go to plays, opera, museums, you name it, for a student price. This is the only way Broadway is affordable. Off Broadway for less than a movie 59E59 Theatres, any live performance for less than a movie at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, $200 Metropolitain Opera seats for $25
There’s an even better opera deal- $20 orchestra seats. You don’t need any kind of ID, just extra hours to wait in a line as they’re in HIGH demand.
Most have some sort of cheap deal- Standing Room Only (SRO), Student Rush, Ticket Lottery, I never pay more than $30 for a ticket, you don’t have to either.
Roundabout Theatre Company produces quite a few Broadway shows. If you’re 18-35 you can join their HipTix program (for free) and get $20 tix in advance.
Sometimes I forget how awesome the library is. I think most New Yorkers do. Free access to any CD, DVD, book, exhibits, sheet music, etc etc THE LIBRARY IS AMAZING.
Connections: hands down the best way ever to get free stuff. I do have a couple of these, and the number is only going to grow.
I know I’m missing loads of things. The Met, Natural History Museum, and many others are pay-what-you-wish, which is awesome if you don’t mind dirty looks. Lot’s of museums have Free Days, but that makes them annoyingly crowded. This list is sure to expand. Especially in the summer (Shakespeare in the Park!! PARKS IN GENERAL!)…winter is harder for the frugal and free skating in Bryant Park ends January 24th.