What to Wear When Up on Carnegie Hill

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Our Abbey Road!

Things are indeed looking up on Carnegie Hill, coming to life after months of near deserted streets, shuttered businesses and masked fear. These days devotees are comparing the charm of our bustling quarter to Paris’ Montmartre as packed cafes spill off the sidewalks and onto Madison Avenue.  Adding to the commotion are multiple construction sites pounding away and impatient trucks delivering goods to the restaurants and shops. But few complain about the minor inconveniences and instead rejoice that our neighborhood is reinvigorated for the challenges ahead.

As Hilary and I are “glass half full” kind of gals, we took to the street to pop into some of the bountiful boutiques in search of fall’s latest and greatest.

The Brora Boutique is filled with Scottish Cashmere, Liberty of London prints, and other fashionable finds.  Madison Avenue is home to the brand’s only US outlet, so it brings in a loyal following.

A favorite of Hilary’s is GAS Bijoux, founded in 1969 on the beaches of Saint-Tropez. And with the dashing Pascal behind the counter, no wonder!

Phoebe Cates Klein opened Blue Tree years ago as a unique emporium of, well, everything!  She noted her dream was “to have it be like a general store but according to me.”  The best source of gifts for everyone on your list from babes to grands.

Blue Tree today. Inset: Phoebe Cates in front of her shop when it first opened 10 years ago.

Where else would you find Gumball Poodle socks?

Le Civette showcases luxurious knits and European luxury brands.

As does Edit, an incredible stylish & curated collection for those in the know. Pass it on.

Clic’s treasures have a point of view — and are also on style point.

And at Mirabelle Boutique you can find an extensive hand picked European selection that is smart, chic and timeless.

The designated Carnegie Hill area runs from East 86th to 96th Street, and from Fifth Avenue east to, but not including, 3rd Avenue. In the early 1900s industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie settled in on Fifth Avenue and 91st Street thus giving the area its prestigious moniker. Today, it is a familiar landmark known as The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

Thanks to organizations like Carnegie Hill Neighbors and Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts the neighborhood has been able to retain its foot-trafficked, small village feel.

One determinant in the vitality of this historic quarter is the profusion of schools to be found here.  Devoted parents parade the streets clutching backpacks, oversized art projects, scooters, as well as their little one’s hands. The celebrated “Drop Off” is fraught with drama, trepidation, excitement and elation — street theater at its best. Even acting out is entertaining (when the little culprit is not yours)!

Hilary and I have both experienced this rewarding urban ritual years ago as Gigi and Sophie attended Nightingale Bamford School on 92nd Street, while Adam and Jake attended Saint David’s School on 89th.

In addition, there is The Spence School, Convent of the Sacred Heart and The Dalton School on 89th and 91st Streets.  The newcomer on the blocks is the Wetherby Pembridge School on 96th, an outpost of the British school that has educated royalty.  Trevor Day School is on 95th,  St. Bernard’s School on 98th, and Park Avenue Synagogue Congregational School on 87th.

La Scuola d’Italia is for savvy parents who encourage a multilingual education. Another welcome language facility is the Carousel Language School for afterschool and weekend programs. 

Tres bien!

And for the wee ones we have Diller Quaile School of Music, St. Thomas More Play GroupThe 92nd Street Y Nursery School and Horace Mann School Nursery Division. That is a whole lot of learning going on!

Hilary and Susan O’Neal across the street from the Cooper Hewitt.

So if you want to know what stylish city women are wearing, just take a stroll and a peek outside of the significant architectural facades of the neighborhood. Hilary and I went stalking our prey.

KK and the fab Fabiana Ramirez!

These days, most moms are wearing low heeled, if not athletic shoes. “No one is taking taxis and with all the walking, we’ve had to give up our heels!” Bummer.

So we pounded the pavement to the neighborhood shops to find some walking shoes that would allow perambulation in a stylish manner. White sneakers are quite the rage.  Lug soled shoes & brogues are on the fashionista’s Must Haves for Fall.

Platform Gym Shoes, $189 / Long Suede Boots, $479 / Suede Slip On Studded Boot, $319 / Suede Patchwork Brogues, $319 / Slip On Chunky Chelsea Boots, $279

Stop into Jack Rogers to see their newest line.  If a pair of shoes doesn’t have rubber soles, just take them to your cobbler to have a pair attached.  It makes such a difference when going the distance on hard top.

Remy Patent Loafer, $128 / Snake Millie Moccasins, $128 / Haircalf Delaney Mule, $108 / Sallie Rain Boot, $58 / Easton Bootie, $148

J. McLaughlin introduced a footwear line to much acclaim.  They design THE five shoes you need for each season.

Casey Suede Pimp, $198 / Penny Suede Pump, $248 / Georgina Mule In Croc, $228 / Aida Ankle Boots In Snake, $328 / Angelique Sneakers, $158

And while the iconic Brooks Brothers may have some financial reshuffling to do, they continue to design a stylish seasonal collection.  Another fall trend is preppy plaid.

Checked Boucle Slingback, $89 / Block Heel Pumps, $124 / Tartan Wool Kitten-Heel Boots, $138 / Plaid Block Heel Pumps, $124 / Patchwork Wool Flats, $89

This is the view from my kitchen window on 91st Street. I drink my coffee and enjoy the procession. Don’t judge!

Delighted to finally spot a pair of pumps!

Hilary has put together some of her MUST BUYS from the ‘hood. “I love living in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood. It is always full of school activity, close to the Park, and speckled with a variety of shops and restaurants to visit. Because many of the clothing boutiques have closed, for now, due to Covid, I featured accessories from my usual haunts. But my favorite store in the neighborhood has to be S. Feldman Housewares … yes a hardware store! But this isn’t any old hardware store — it has everything you need and everything you didn’t know you needed and then some. Family owned, Feldman’s is a Carnegie Hill staple where you can buy everything from vacuums, eyeglasses, scented candles to an extendable back scratcher. A true shopping mecca.”

Blue Tree Lambswool Weave Throw, $285 / Blue Tree Bonsoir Pajamas, $185 / Gas Bijoux Multipearl Bracelet, $302 / Clic Madison Avenue Market Bag, $70 / Blue Tree Blossom Tumbler Glasses, $225 / Gas Bijoux Biba Bis Earrings, $185 / Gas Bijoux Ensoleille Moi Perfume, $160 / Clic Misha Hat Camo Beanie, $250

S. Feldman, serving the Upper East Side with kitchen supplies and home goods (and anything else you can think of) since 1929.

We continue our shopping spree, stopping at Glamourpuss NYC where Courtney Moss was glamming for the camera!  Great hats and outerwear. Stop in anytime, just above Island Restaurant.

Courtney and Hilary glamming it up.

J. McLaughlin’s newly redesigned space is a shopping pleasure.

Inside the the new J. McLaughlin.
Carnegie Hill street style!

All of this walking has made us thirsty just as Vicolina’s bedecked entrance beckoned — a respite in their cabin-like construct. Very clever and cozy!

Love the history? Visit Carnegie Hill Neighbors whose mission is to preserve and protect and advocate on behalf of Carnegie Hill and its residents.

We haven’t even scratched the surface of the pleasures and treasures of life on the “hill.” Stroll up, shop, enjoy a meal, shop, visit a museum, shop, mani-pedi, and shop!  Let’s bring the business back to this very special part of town.

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