My first inspirational shopping started out in Nolita, which is one of my favorite areas of the city, lots of cute little boutiques selling fun and unique garments and accessories. Hands down, my favorite designer/boutique was Mayle (242 Elizabeth St.), I love the tailored shift dresses with the unexpected drape or the fabulous vintage inspired prints with exposed zippers. Mayle's designs looks like vintage but in fact isn't AND the clothing is sooo well made. I tried this dress on and loved it (for a cool $560).
Mayle store front:
Poppy is a fabulous little boutique on Mott st. selling more easy-on-the wallet clothing, but with unique style, my absolute favorite was a forest green jersey dress from Development by Erica Davies
My last stop was Edge nyNOHO on Bleeker st. Now this was a very interesting concept, it's a co-op of local clothing, accessory and jewelry designers but each designer has their own both or space which is open 5 days out of the week. Designers buy space for a month and then either hire someone to work it or they work it as well. Nothing really caught my eye at the time, but I think it would be a great resource for people needing custom made items as you could meet the designer in person and do fittings in their little co-shop (but you'd have to be a local)...