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I don’t know about you, but it’s been one heck of a week! At work, I’m still figuring out how to balance the responsibilities of my new position with the habits of my old, and it’s definitely been a challenge. I am always my own worst critic, and sometimes I have to remind myself that perfection is not the point.

This Summer Friday, there was no where else I wanted to be than SoulCycle. (What better way to sweat out the stress and craziness at your job than on a bike?) A year ago I would have been the first person to make fun of myself, but this spinning phenomenon is no joke. You spend 45 minutes in a candlelit room, packed shoulder to shoulder with 60 other people, pedaling your face off to thumping music. All the while, your instructor is shouting hippie affirmations to make you give more, more, more–“You have everything you need!” “You have to push yourself to the edge to meet your true potential!” By the end of it, you’ve seriously considered throwing up, sweated through every single layer of clothing, and feel AMAZING.

Afterward I took a dawdle around the Flatiron district, which gets fancier and fancier every day. In a way, it’s returning to its roots since it used to be (and sometimes still is) called “Ladies’ Mile”. At the turn of the century, the area was a glittering row of upscale shops and beautiful Beaux-Arts buildings, where the who’s who of society came to purchase and pose. According to the New York Preservation Archive Project, it was one of the first places that a lady could walk unaccompanied by a man–mainly, I suppose, because she would be surrounded by so many other ladies doing the same thing: Buying pretty things. Safety in shopping!

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I had fun investigating the new Club Monaco headquarters, which feature a fancy Brooklyn-based coffee shop and an outpost of The Strand bookstore. I love it when brands leverage their point of view by expanding into lifestyle. Why should Club Monaco limit itself to only clothing? Why not take advantage of the perspective it develops for its product, and make that something real, enjoyable, and profitable? I think a brand is so much more powerful when you have the ability to truly drink, eat, breathe, and live it. I feel it’s part of the reason that lots of online-only retailers (Bonobos, Everlane, Piperlime) have opened bricks and mortar stores: Customers still value unique experiences.

Toby’s Estate @ Club Monaco
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The Strand @ Club Monaco
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Anyhow, if you’re ever in New York, Ladies’ Mile is worth a visit–a perfect blend of old architecture with new shopping trends. My hit list:

Coffee and a shop at Eataly.

Waltz around Madison Square, but don’t be tempted by the line at Shake Shack. Only tourists stand in line.

Selfie with the Flatiron Building (an oldie but always a goodie).

High end window shopping (Maison Kitsune, Intermix, Comptoir des Cotonniers) and low end real shopping (H&M, J Crew, Joe Fresh).

Casual lunch at salad sensation sweetgreen. Fun people watching!

Classical music shopping at Academy Records. Great greeting cards and crafty bits at Paper Presentation.

Pretzel croissant at City Bakery.

More coffee at Toby’s Estate @ Club Monaco.

Ride of your life at Soul 19th St.

At the end of the day, warm English beer and the lamb burger at The Breslin. Or dine with the locals at Bar Almond.

Image from The New York Preservation Archive Project and Toby’s Estate Website

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