I Went to the New Upper West Side Century 21, And I (Barely) Lived to Tell the Tale

I have a rather shocking confession to make: I have never set foot in a Century 21 in my life. Yes, I’ve lived in New York for 10 years and am a self-proclaimed shopping guru, yet have never visited the hallowed halls of a Century 21 store.  I hope that doesn’t detract from my already fairly dubious credibility as an arbiter of style.

Here’s the thing–I hate so-called discount stores. Loehmann’s, TJ Maxx, Filene’s? They annoy me. I feel like I have to dig through heaps of stuff that no one else wanted to find something remotely interesting, only to discover it’s not THAT much cheaper. (Or…I’m a shopping snob. I can totally admit it.)

But with Century 21 opening right in my backyard, I had to check it out, so made the ridiculous decision to go this past Sunday. Yes. In the middle of the day. Now, I’ve heard all the legends about fighting over the last pair of size 5  Manolo Blahniks so I thought I was prepared for the craziness. No.

A few observations:

1) People who shop at Century 21 are really, really into it.

2) They have some amazing shoe deals there. I saw size 37 Manolo booties  (at right) normally $1050 for $399. Unfortunately my huge platypus feet could not squeeze into them or they totally would have been mine.  Same thing with the Martin Margielas. Sigh.

3) Do not go in if: you need to use the bathroom, you’re thirsty, you hate to be touched, you hate to stand in line, you hate random piles of clothes, or you wear a size 9 and have posh taste in shoes. (Still bitter about those booties.)

4) There were some great things there, I have to admit. I got a fantastic Gryphon skirt (look ’em up–very up-and-coming New York label) and a Marc x Marc Jacobs polka dot pencil skirt.

5) Never, ever say you’re ok with going into the community fitting room.

6) But once you say that, be prepared to wait in a line that looks like this:

OK. So I will definitely be a repeat customer at Century 21. It excited me. There was a lot of good fashion and the prices were fantastic. And if I see you holding a pair of size 9 Prada pumps I will not hesitate to knock you down and rip them from your hands.



  1. scott · September 30, 2011

    Did they have a decent hosiery department?

    Difficult to find one on the upper west.

    • UpperWestSideCheryl · September 30, 2011

      Didn’t check! But I certainly will next time, because I totally agree with you

  2. goober · September 30, 2011

    Gryphon is an up and coming label? if you were really into fashion like you say you are you would realize the brand has been around for many years now.

    • UpperWestSideCheryl · September 30, 2011

      Semantics. She started with just coats and began adding RTW in 2008 maybe? Perhaps “not universally known” or “cult favorite” is a better label. And PS: let’s be nice to each other! This is a family blog…

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