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Black Friday Survival Tips Offered by Personal Shoppers

By Della Hasselle | November 23, 2011 7:49am | Updated on November 25, 2011 9:22am

By Serena Solomon and Della Hasselle

DNAinfo Staff

MANHATTAN — Manhattanites who plan to claw their way through Macy’s and other crowded stores this Black Friday will need a strategy for how to get their hands on a little black dress or giant plasma television — without getting knocked down or left behind.

Speaking from experience, a range of personal shoppers recommend everything from mapping out a step-by-step shopping day to buying oversize in order to get discounted goods.

Together with DNAinfo, the experts have compiled a set of “survival tips” that shoppers need to know if they're planning to brave the Black Friday lines, which begin as early as midnight in some stores.

"People often make mad panic buys in sales and purchase silly things. If you are focused then you can go in and get what you need without getting distracted," New York fashion expert and "Secret Stylist" blogger Lucy James advised.

In order to steer clear of panic shopping, James said one of the most important things to remember was to choose three items that are on your must-have list — whether they be electronics, shoes or household items — and then map out an area of the city where you can find all three pieces without traveling too far.

"Stay in one area, and if you can, keep to the department stores (Barneys, Saks, Bloomingdales) as they often offer big discounts and a lot of choice," she said, adding that her three items would be black flat booties, a cosy fur vest and colorful leather gloves.

Although it's important to stay focused, James advised that it was equally as important to become flexible when things don't go as planned — especially in situations like Black Friday where masses of people may all be reaching for the same sparkly mini-skirt or button-up blazer.

"Remember, if your size is gone you can always take another size to a tailor, which is what I often do," she added.

Natalie Holloway and Casey Matheny of the fashion blog "Buttoned Up" agree that a structured, geographic plan, with some room for improvisation, is necessary to maximize the shopper's success during the harrowing hours of Manhattan's biggest shopping day.

Holloway and Matheny suggested visiting electronics stores such as Best Buy and Target first, because that's where the deepest discounts lie.

Afterwards, they said they would visit Bloomingdale's, and even Macy's because that's "where you can get great deals on clothing, shoes, jewelry, furnishings, and home decor items."

The dynamic duo said that this year they would be looking for over-the-ear headphones, brown Frye riding boots and a flat-screen television — even if it meant going on the ultimate treasure hunt throughout the city.

"Our only advice here — get ready to brave the crowds and dig!" they said. "You'll have to search a little to find the hidden gems, but it will definitely be worth it."

For Alexander Liang, editor-in-chief of online fashion publication Kenton Magazine, there is "no fast fashion." For the flexible shopper, however, he says surprises can come in discounted packages.

"The things on my wish list at the moment never go on sale, but I would go shopping on Black Friday with an open mind, for something that could catch my eye that I didn't necessarily lust after for weeks or months before," Liang said.

Other smart suggestions include wearing comfortable shoes, bringing water and eating snacks in-between stores. It's also advisable to dress in tight layers that are easy to pile on in chilly lines or peel off in department stores for on-the-spot fittings.

If all else fails, however, or the crowds get to be too impenetrable, other stylists suggest ditching the stores altogether, and reverting to online shopping.

Ebay is partnering with food truck Sweetery NYC this year to offer free food and wifi so Manhattanites can shop peacefully.

"If it all gets too much, skip to a cafe or bar, whip out your iPad and order online," James quipped.