New & Almost New’s Maggie Chan on the Dangers of the Baby-Doll Dress

Chan’s got the goods.Photo: Melissa Hom

As the longtime owner of Nolita consignment shop New & Almost New, Maggie Chan’s job is to hunt for the bargains and deliver them to her customers. Ever dreamed of finding a nautical Marc by Marc Jacobs shirt for $10 in NYC? That’s what we found the last time we stepped in. And with the economy sluggish as it is, it couldn’t be a better time to hunt for great labels on the cheap. So we sat down with the store owner and bargain guru to talk fall trends, labels she loves, and what every woman should have in her closet.

How do you find the pieces that you sell?
I am lucky enough to have connections. I went to F.I.T., so most of my old friends are designers now or related to magazine business.

What makes your shop different from other consignment stores?
I try not to compare! But I do a lot of research to make sure what I have is at the same or lower price than other places. Certain things like a designer bag, I know could sell for over $1,000. But for me, you can find a Chanel bag for $400. Or a Birkin bag, I just sold one for $3,000 — it was a good-condition bag that first sold at $8,000! But I don’t want to scare off everybody. We also have Marc by Marc Jacobs for $25. So the price point is suitable for everybody.

What can we expect to be stocked this fall?
A lot of pencil skirts, high pumps, wool jackets. We have all kinds of cashmere from Scotland, from basic black to yellow, priced from $80 to $150. And there’s a 100 percent cashmere Chanel sweater set for $500, tags still attached. Normally, that’s around $2,000.

What trends do you personally love for fall?
We will look more like women. We’ve been wearing so many jeans, so many flip-flops, cotton T-shirts. So I’m very excited about a more put-together look. More dresses and skirts and accessories. Form-fitting.

Are there any trends you wish would go away?
The baby-doll dress. All the women who’ve been wearing the baby-doll dress must have gained ten pounds because they haven’t really noticed their stomachs. I also dislike baggy jeans. I prefer slim — not skinny — jeans with a pair of flats. Very chic.

Photo: Melissa Hom

What designers do you love?
I’m not loyal to one. I open my mind every single season. But I have to say overall I like Prada — very stable. I like Miu Miu, a little younger. Marni is fun. Marc is very happy. Phillip Lim — my God!

Which designer do you wear the most?
That’s tough. I guess I pretty much love the Italian designers. I can’t say a particular one. But any clothing from Italy, I tend to love and keep forever. It’s well cut, and that makes a huge difference.

What was the first designer item that you bought?
I treated myself to a beige cashmere Chanel sweater. Classic. I still have it.

Where do you shop?
I love discount! I love Woodbury Commons and Filene’s. Don’t laugh: I do go to Forever 21 and Old Navy. You don’t have to have Moschino summer shorts. Not everything has to be expensive.

What are you lusting after right now?
I think we have enough bags and shoes for the time being; now we want sunglasses. So this is the new accessory and always more than one pair. I want aviators with no name, no Ray-Ban on the lens.

What’s one thing that every woman should have in her closet?
A nice black blazer, very important.

New & Almost New’s Maggie Chan on the Dangers of the Baby-Doll Dress