& Other Stories, Midtown West: For Botanical Books and Forest Green Underwear
Here, run your finger along the susurrated edge of this jade-colored bra: you can almost smell the moss, verdant and deeply familiar, the kind that grew along the branches of your favorite tree from when you were young.
You might think we’re waxing eloquent, but held together with tines of silver, lined in velvet fronds and patrolled by a wedge of glittering swans, the lingerie at & Other Stories’ new Midtown store is the stuff poetry is made of. Plus, at under $50 apiece and exclusive to this location - we couldn’t even find some of the styles online - it is both rare and reasonably priced, and that never happens.
Debuting on a concrete block and cradled in the cusp between two big competitors (Zara and Cos) this second branch of H&M's posh sister brand may lack the signature window moldings of the original SoHo location, but it compensates with beefed-up merchandise. There is the abovementioned lingerie section, two floors of highly-wearable clothes and an adorable, unexpected smattering of plant-centric books that comprise a “botanical library” which customers can borrow from free of cost; just bring the books back eventually. PS: We couldn’t confirm whether this initiative is driven by the store’s proximity to the New York Public Library and/or Bryant Park, but it would be cool if that were the reason.
Even better, the texts addressing carnivorous plants, coffee table books capturing Empowered Gardens and Vincent Van Gogh’s Between Earth & Heaven are appealingly worn, with crooked spines, dog-eared jackets and pages swollen from living in dark, damp drawers. “Isn’t it odd how much fatter a book gets when you’ve read it several times?” one of the hand-written notes salting the volumes asks, causing us to nod vigorously at no one in particular, the kind of bizarre behavior that, in this city, instantly puts security guards on high alert.
As a result, we are shadowed for the rest of our visit by a sales girl who wears her oversized sweatshirt with enviable élan and keeps us in her line of vision constantly, as we decide between a tissue-thin layering sweater in navy or grey, consider and reject a sheer black “winter forest dress”, smudge on mimosa-flavored body soufflé from the in-house beauty section and grab onto a truly amaze-balls blue beanie embroidered with silver birds. We will save this for when the other shoe drops and the uncharacteristically benevolent weather we are currently experiencing turns into Snowmageddon overnight, with no warning whatsoever.
Our stalker proves particularly useful when we need a smaller size of flat-soled loafers, made from thick flaps of soft black leather; and forget where we saw the star-spangled sweater dress that won’t decimate our savings but looks like Saint Laurent, at least from two blocks away. We also enlist her in a storewide search for a shirt we found online, pale peach silk with a thin black neck bow, something both Patti Smith and Madonna would happily wear, which takes us the better part of an hour to locate but fits so perfectly that we never want to take it off.
In fact, we’re wearing it as we type, six hours and two gin and tonics later. As for our lingerie, we’re not telling. But we can swear that, underneath the spilled beer, investment-banker cologne and Tenth Avenue traffic outside our neighborhood bar, somewhere close by, we smell moss.
Getting there: & Other Stories, 505 Fifth Avenue, $39 for a silk bra, $115 for a silk shirt with velvet bow.