Photo: Disigual

Neighborhood: SoHo
Type of Place: Women's Clothing Handbags

Economy, economy, blah blah, money tight, no fun, blah! We've heard it already, and the story is feeling more than old. We may not be rolling in dough, but we still need fun.

Help is on the way. If you do some digging and you've got some moxie, opportunities for fun and savings are out there waiting. And how's this for a combination of both: Get a great free outfit from Spanish clothing line Desigual...if you're willing to shop in your underwear.

The shop's first NYC "Undie Party" took place at its SoHo branch on Thursday, but if you missed it, no problem: The uptown shop (358 5th Avenue, entrance on 34th St.) takes its turn on Tuesday. The rules: The first 100 customers in undies get a free outfit (2 pieces maximum); all others in undies get 50% off. The shop opens at 10 A.M, and till 12, only customers in undies will be served (in other words, rubberneckers are not welcome). You can wear your clothes while waiting in line, but you'll have to get undie-fied when the customer counters do their thing.

You will also have to make a bit of an effort. Shop employees told me that the first people in line for this shopping day arrived at 4:30 A.M. By the time I showed up, in the early afternoon (foolishly thinking that it would take the whole day for 100 shoppers in underwear to materialize—hah!), all was back to normal and shoppers were fully clothed. So I can't tell you first-hand what the undie scene was like—but by all reports, it was orderly (if a bit nutty), high-spirited (no doubt), and thankfully free of "Please leave the premises" types of behaviors. I *can* tell you about the clothes and try to entice you into giving Tuesday's Undie Party a try.

Patchwork and mixed patterns are big here for Fall. I loved a tote bag ($54) in black with pink, blue, and red patchwork and "Amo la Vida" ("I Love Life!") embroidered on the side; a super-cute coat in black, red, and grey, with cheery patterns and printed words ("Our world happy!!" is printed at the hem), $179; a black v-neck dress with a bow at the hip and pink, orange, yellow, green, blue patterns on the skirt, $104; a fabulously textured black and red cowlneck sweater, $114; and a grey minidress featuring mismatched buttons, mirrored beads, and embroidery ("Lovely, not tacky," I wrote, knowing it could sound otherwise; but I forgot to record the price).

There's also a kids' section, featuring, among other adorable items, a charming smock dress ($64) in grey with pink, purple, blue, and orange geometric prints. And upstairs there's an outlet section offering discounted items from seasons past, where I can envision spending huge chunks of time in the future.

"Happy ideas all the time!" is written on one of the walls here, and indeed the mood, decor, and clothes here are pretty darn joyful. As I said, cash might be in short supply these days, but fun and good times don't have to be. And if you're feeling skittish about the undie thing, just think of the customers in Spain, where the same parties are held, except (due to different nudity laws...God love Europe) with customers wearing nothing at all. Come on, you can do it! And think of the story you'll have to tell when someone compliments your new clothes.   - Pamela Grossman; Sept 27, 2010

594 Broadway
New York, NY 10012