Our shopping expert Lucia Van Der Post on where to bag the best deals in New York, now that the exchange rate is red hot...
Thanks to the exchange rate, it's never been a better time to nip to New York for all your Christmas shopping.
However, knowing where to go and what to buy can be tricky. That's where 'assisted shopping' comes in. This is the latest trend where hotels and airlines lay on retail gurus to give you the inside track.
Here, Lifestyle asked style commentator Lucia van der Post for her top tips...
THE BIG DEPARTMENT STORES
SAKS (611 Fifth Avenue) is a great mid-to-upper range one-stop shop. The shoe department stocks most brands you can think of, covers almost the entire eighth floor and has its own zip code 10022-SHOE.
BLOOMINGDALE'S (1000 Third Avenue) is fantastic for tights, hair ornaments, scarves, nightwear, underwear and bed linen.
BERGDORF GOODMAN (754 Fifth Avenue) is divine, but expensive. The basement, which is just one huge beauty department, is amazing. Stock up on brands you can't get in Britain, such as Erno Laszlo's skincare range.
BARNEYS (660 Madison Avenue) is good for niche jewellers and showcases small, modern designers you don't come across elsewhere.
U.S. DESIGNERS AND SHOPS
A friend went into DONNA KARAN (819 Madison Avenue) last time she was in New York and bought almost everything in the place.
The one designer I'm mad about is MORGANE LE FAY (746 Madison Avenue). She's like a New York version of Issey Miyake or Comme Des Garcons.
I also like to buy the young designer PHILLIP LIM - it's so much cheaper and he's just opened his own shop (115 Mercer Street).
The RALPH LAUREN shop (867 Madison Avenue) is worth a visit because his classic preppy look is fashionable again. His cheaper range, Lauren, is not available in Britain.
DOSA (107 Thompson Street) is another brand that's not widely stocked here, but the shop in SoHo sells the full range of slightly hippy designs.
GAP and ABERCROMBIE are worth checking out for basics - they cost in dollars what they do in pounds in Britain, so it's half-price.
If you're after niche fashion, go to MULBERRY STREET in Nolita. There are a lot of fantastic boutiques that stock local designers and are run by people who really know how to edit collections.
You might not recognise the names, but there are some lovely pieces to be had.
ANTHROPOLOGIE (375 W Broadway) in Soho is great for whimsical clothes. They do hippy, pretty things and also do homeware - door knobs, glass lanterns and glasses.
OLD NAVY (610 Avenue of the Americas) is owned by the same company as Gap and worth a visit for children's clothes and casualwear.
BANANA REPUBLIC (205 Bleecker St) is another Gap company that doesn't exist here. Slightly more expensive than Gap, but also chicer, it specialises in elegant, timeless classics and has striking party dresses.
No one in Britain does anything like CRATE & BARREL (611 Broadway) or POTTERY BARN (600 Broadway). My best buy from Pottery Barn is classic white, hotel-sized linen tablecloths - my friends lap them up.
I'd been going to New York for years before I braved the discount store CENTURY 21 (22 Cortlandt St) near Ground Zero. It has everything from fashion to beauty, but I was really impressed by the homeware. It is a scrum, but the prices are amazing. Thick white towels were just $12 (£6) and white 300-thread king-size sheets $25 (£12.50).
For kitchenware, WILLIAMS-SONOMA (121 E 59th Street) is every chef and foodie's dream.
If you're serious about shopping, you can book a personal shopper in advance. A lot of the major department stores offer a complimentary personal shopping service but, for insider tips, speak to KATHLEEN BECKETT (001 212 505 2157; firstname.lastname@example.org).
She's ex-Vogue and won't just take you to ordinary shops, but can introduce you to designers, boutique fashion and other in-the-know places where she can negotiate discounts. Her fee is $250 an hour, but she claims she's never had a client who hasn't saved her fee in discounts by lunchtime.
Chaps might like to know about ELENA CASTANEDA, who does a great job on clothes, accessories and image for men. Check her out on Image Makeover Consultant, Celebrity Stylist, Men's Makeover by New York Image Consultant Personal Shopper
As it isn't such a big deal in New York as it is in Britain, fewer people are fighting over vintage.
I've picked up great things in flea markets, such as a little fur wrap for a fraction of the cost it would be at Joseph. It's also worth looking into THE RITZ THRIFT SHOP (107 W 57th St) and STELLA DALLAS (218 Thompson St) for sweet, silk tea dresses, eveningwear and old prom dresses.
OTHER MUST BUYS
Sporting equipment is well worth seeking out.
Not from anywhere in particular, just anywhere you pass. Even tennis balls are a fraction of the price here. If you're a jeans fan, there's a fantastic shop on Prince Street called HENRY LEHR (11 Prince Street) with a huge denim range and, if you're baffled by the choice, SAKS has denim guides who will help identify your perfect fit.
The APPLE STORE in Soho (103 Prince Street) is a favourite for anyone hunting for gadgety type presents. I also love New York's museum shops.
You can always find something beautiful, different or quirky at MOMA - the Museum of Modern Art - (44 W 53rd Street).
NB: Only the first £145 worth of bargains are tax and duty-free; after that, you're liable for VAT at 17.5 per cent and duty at 12 per cent. Make sure you check the baggage limitations of your airline before you go crazy.
Lucia van der Post has just been appointed Silverjet's official retail therapist. Return flights to New York with Silverjet start at £1,099. For a personalised retail prescription from Lucia, book online before January 31 at Silverjet - low fare business class flights - London, New York, Dubai then e-mail email@example.com with your flight reference and details of what you want.
Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me: Lessons In Grace And Elegance by Lucia van der Post is out now, at £16.99.
Where to find those Big Apple bargains | the Daily Mail=
NY looks awesome