If your mother, grandmother or great-aunt wanted to go thrifting, the City Opera Thrift Shop is the
first place you would take them. That's not to say it's stodgy--though a
good portion of the store's inventory is targeted toward the more
mature female shopper. It is, however, one of the city's most
refined thrift stores, with the ambiance--and on
occasion, the pricing--of a fancy, upscale boutique. Let
me be clear: the City Opera Thrift Shop is NOT a place to find
basement-bargain deals. (Much of the store's inventory is in the $40 and
up range. And by up, I mean UP.) But it IS a well-curated
collection of high-end and designer second-hand clothing at (mostly)
reasonable prices, with all proceeds supporting the
creation and design of costumes for productions at New York City Opera
at BAM and New York City Center. In other words, if you're looking to
splurge and simultaneously support the arts, City Opera is a great place
to do both.
City Opera also offers plenty of drama--the shop consistently has the best window displays on the block. And you won't find rack after rack of cheap, fast-fashion rejects here. Instead, sequined evening gowns, fur coats and vintage threads all arranged by color make the shop one of the more aesthetically-pleasing on Thrift Row. In addition to designer duds, the shop has a lot of work-appropriate wear, with plenty of higher-end jackets, skirts, button-ups and cardigans priced in the $15-$30 range. If you're starting a new job, or just tired of rotating the same five outfits at work, City Opera is a great place to find some high-quality, name brand basics in excellent condition.
Besides clothing, the shop always has plenty of interesting--and sometimes quirky--knick-knacks upstairs, where framed vintage posters, glassware, ceramics and even a few one-of-a-kind furniture pieces are on display. Also upstairs is the City Opera's tiny men's section--which is pretty unexciting, especially compared to the amazing women's stuff below--and an even tinier sale section. I've never found anything particularly great on this sale rack, which typically features some questionable polyester dresses and assorted nightgowns, though some could work as (somewhat pricey) costume fodder.
City Opera Thrift Shop
222 East 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010