My Manhattan Diaries

#1 The Evening Gown Hunt.

You might think buying an evening gown in NYC is a piece of cake, but when someone is looking for a cheesecake with just that little bit of cream, crumble base so perfect that it melts in your mouth right away and doesn’t add a calorie to your hips then buying that gown isn’t all that easy.

I was on a mission. To find reasonably priced evening gown from a designer shop and? Find Santa Claus while I was at it.

Not having any female friends around the area, I turned to my next best friend, They directed me to Jovani fasions up on 37th street and 5th avenue. So I walked a couple of blocks and found the place, staring into the glass walls all these beautiful gowns priced at $200-$300 I couldn’t wait to try on. Problem? They are wholesale! Say what? But the lady directed me to a couple of retail stores that sell her dresses so I went to these places one by one. Great variety. Problem? They are wholesale but they will sell you one piece if you really beg and plead and are ready to try on the gown at the back in their storage rooms with cartons and no mirrors. So you could try Viver (64 west 37th street) or RK Bridal (318 west 39th street) or even Lafayatte on 6th avenue and 37th street. They all sell Jovani dresses and if you are lucky you might just find the one you are looking for. But after the 7th shop, I had had it. I wasn’t going to buy a dress that was hanging around in a shop with 100 others of her lookalikes. It didn’t make me feel so special you see. So I decided to leave the Fashion district and go to some “real shops” after searching at Macys and Bloomys (way over my budget) I landed at BCBG and there I saw it.; a gown with scuff sleeves and the perfect fit. Price $495 OH NO! But wait 60% off ..ah yes god was too kind.

I picked up the dress with the biggest smile ever handed my credit card and walked out patting myself on the back.  Mission accomplished. Now all I had to do was get the dress fitted to my height.

Little did I know what an Everest it is to find a tailor in NYC reasonably priced.

I was on a mission.

# 2 Pottermania

When I saw the ending credits of the last harry potter movie ever, I closed my eyes and thought. This is it. No more new harry potter experiences. No more books to look forward to and after this no more movies.

Boy, was I wrong.

A week later I found myself on 44th street and Broadway staring through the glass doors at the discovery times square at the harry potter exhibition. My mother looks at me and says “Ah yes $26 looks too much to me too” I looked at her aghast. I wasn’t DEBATING whether to go in or not, I was merely staring in disbelief. All those feelings came gushing back at me, another new experience? The harry potter exhibition, I just had to go in.

As soon as I walked in, the sorting ceremony began. After stretching my hand high above desperately just like Hermione in the movie I got picked third! And didn’t want to copy the others and be sorted into the Gryffindor house (although I know secretly that’s where I belong) I chose to be one of the clever Raven claws. After the sorting ceremony we were directed into the exhibition, which started off with entering the Hogwarts Castle and exploring the dormitories of the witches and wizards of the Dumbledore’s Army. Everything we saw were real artifacts used in making the movies. Once past the Hogwarts castle we found ourselves in the forbidden forest, which seemed as spooky in real as it does in the movies. For a real harry potter fan this was quite the treat. You get to pull out screeching mandrakes, pose on platform 9 ¾ and take a peek into the daily lives of the students. To top it all you get to purchase the every kind flavored beans from bertie botts (I started off with dirt flavor – gross I know)

I left the exhibition. Thinking this was it no more new harry potter experiences. I closed my eyes again. I then opened them and saw a poster and smiled. Staring in front of me was an advertisement of the newly opened Harry Potter theme park in Florida.

I guess some symptoms never do completely go away especially if you have the Pottermania.

# 3 The Alterations shop

I wake up early next morning. Yes. Must find a good tailor in New York City. Hadn’t forgotten my mission to search for Mr. Claus either. I googled a couple of places, put on my sneakers and hit the road. First stop. Sew Elegant – 108 west on 39th street. The lady was super sweet. She made me try the dress and complimented me endlessly. Ok then I thought. I don’t look that stunning also I know. Then she says “where are shoes?” huh what shoes? I thought. “Your heel size” she asks blatantly. “Oh, I don’t know, around 3 to 4 inches?” I said admiring the other gowns there. She frowned. “3 to 4 inches? So which one 3 or 4? Please be exact”. “Uh I don’t have the shoes yet you see” I told her bewildered (I mean seriously is it that big a deal) Yes it is apparently! She said demanding “You go get your heels and I will keep this dress ready for you”. Ok great I thought. How much? “Ah yes for you I give best price only 2 hundred dollars” Faint. That’s more than my freaking dress (yes you should’ve done the math already). Walk Out.

I wasn’t too lucky with the next two tailors either; I managed to get a quote close to 120 dollars at the legacy garment care on 26th street and Third Avenue though. But finally, I landed up at a great tailor. His name was Adele and he was Egyptian. Not only was he reasonably priced (for a tailor on 5th avenue hello?) but also he knew exactly what he was doing. He did insist on me being absolutely certain about the height of my heels and after much arguing I decided to buy the shoes first. Gosh. But because I have had so much experience in shoe shopping (Thank you S), that wasn’t quite hard. The dress fittings in all at the alternations shop cost me a total of $65. This is a highly recommended place for the lost new Yorker’s out there.

# 4 Dis & Dat

Tip 1 – When exploring the MOMA – museum of modern art on 53rd and 6th avenue, don’t forget to stop by their gift shop after. You will regret it if you don’t. It is probably worth a 100 Jackson Pollock’s out there. Ha-ha Just kidding. But their gift shop ideas are extremely creative. Not that that’s any surprise.

Tip 2 – Broadway shows are expensive. Your best bet for good seats and cheap prices is to go at 10 am in the middle of times square at the Duffy red carpet area and buy the shows available for their matinée afternoon ones at 50-60% off and great seats are usually guaranteed. We saw the phantom of the opera for $60 (original orchestra seating is $150) Absolutely Worth it!

Tip 3 – Walk like you belong. Wear comfortable shoes. Talk to Strangers (coz they will definitely talk to you)

Unfortunately, there probably isn’t anything more I can write about New York that hasn’t already been written, all I can do is account for my experiences as a person who is not an oblivious tourist and not a bred New Yorker but is someone in the middle. In the middle of Manhattan.

PS Believe it or not, Santa Claus is doing absolutely fine.


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