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Top 5 Stores to Shop Chic on the Cheap


Store Window

Inspired by Noel’s fabulous post on her Hermes sample sale scarves, I thought I would let all of you girls in on five great stores where you can get awesome clothes way below their usual prices!

With these stores, even if you don’t live in NY, you can still get sample sale prices! The shops I picked are all national chains, but I’m sure you all know of amazing thrift/resale stores in your neighborhoods and online, too, so definitely share them in the comment section! I’m interested to know where you guys do your shopping.

If you’re looking to make a big purchase or just want to treat yourself and update your wardrobe with something special, try one of these five stores for chic clothes on the cheap!

5. Plato’s Closet:

While finding high-end, designer pieces at Plato’s can be pretty hit or miss, this is a great store to pick up cute brand-name basics from mall stores at cheap prices.

Plato’s buys and sells gently used, current in-style teen clothing at a fraction of their going prices. Expect to find items well under $40 from Bebe, Gap, American Eagle, J.Crew, the A&F brands, Express and Forever 21. Also, make sure to search for the occasional pair of designer jeans, Juicy Couture track suits, and designer once-worn dresses donated after homecoming or prom!

Find a list of Plato’s Closet locations near you here.

4. Marshall’s & TJ Maxx:

While both these stores require digging to get to their designer gold, they’re great places to go for new designer purses, sunglasses, and clothing. Case in point: I’ve gotten Coach shoes for $39, Michael Kors sunglasses for $15, J.Brand jeans for $60, and Cole Haan bags for $100 at these two stores, owned by the same company.

Shopping Marshall’s and TJ Maxx can definitely be overwhelming, so it’s a good idea to go with an idea of what you want and how much you’re willing to spend. Skip the cheesy “teen” sections of the stores that are full of unexciting pieces and go straight for the women’s, shoe, and purse sections to search for the best stuff.

TJ Maxx locations with Runway departments are the best–there you’ll find a selection of very high end pieces for hundreds, even thousands of dollars off. They’re definitely worth checking out and saving those dollars for! You never know when you’ll find a marked-down Balenciaga bag or Missoni dress The Runway!

Search for stores near you at and

3. Premium Outlet Malls:

For a fun girl’s day out and endless variety, premium outlet malls are the way to go!

With premium outlet malls, you’ll get to choose between typical mall brands and if you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to big-name outlet stores of BCBG, Coach, Burberry, Betsey Johnson, Kate Spade, and Versace, just to name a few. While prices will still be considerable, there is definitely something good to be said about driving for hours, having lunch at a cafe with the girls, and finding an amazing Gucci wallet or Burberry scarf for 50% off.

Premium outlet malls aren’t just for casual purchases–they’re all out shopping events! For a list of outlets near you, or to find outlet stores by brand, check out Outlet Bound.

2. Nordstrom Rack:

If you love Nordstrom but aren’t in love with their prices, Nordstrom Rack is the perfect option to get the same great style while saving some money. Stocked with everything a traditional Nordstrom store has, The Rack has everything from shoes to lingerie, plus fun seasonal favorites like summer bikinis and winter outerwear.

Though you’ll have to search for the best deals and your favorite brands, there never seems to be a shortage of 7 For All Mankind, Free People, True Religion, Juicy Couture, or Matty M, at least at my favorite Rack. My favorite departments include samples from Savvy and t.b.d., as well as the extensive shoe selection! You’ll be able to find pieces that are trendy and current and classy investment items here on a good day!

A final perk? If you’re lucky enough to have a Nordstrom gift card, it also works at The Rack, so you can buy even more great stuff than you would have at the original store. Find your locations here!

1. Saks Off 5th:

A final favorite for Chic on the Cheap is undoubtedly Saks Off 5th. It’s the best of both worlds–an upscale shopping experience coupled with bargain prices!

Off 5th outlets feature a wide variety of brands and incredible selection. You’ll find great clothing, accessories, and shoes here for at least 40% off retail, plus save additional percentages with ongoing promotions and store coupons. Off 5th stores are also known to host glitzy private shopping events for Saks cardholders and e-mail subscribers, so look out for invite-only sample sales if you’re a frequent shopper.

Saks off 5th is also a great place to look for things you loved last season marked way down. Missed purchasing Primp thermals, denim cut offs, wellington boots, or liquid leggings? Look no further than Off 5th for amazing selection!

Find your nearest Off 5th here.

Your thoughts?

Where do you girls go if you want to shop designer but stick to your budget? Do you have favorite thrift stores, outlets, or resale shops to share? Most importantly, what’s the best designer deal you’ve ever gotten?! Let everyone know with your comments!

Posted on on October 15, 2009 / Filed Under: Shopping / Tags: , , , , ,

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33 Responses to “Top 5 Stores to Shop Chic on the Cheap”

  1. 1
    October 15th, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I think the thing I miss most about living in California was our local Nordy’s Rack. I practically lived there when I wasn’t at Nordstrom. (…my mom is a 15 year veteran of the company, so I was always there? haha.)

    We do have a Saks off 5th, and I have gotten some wonderful deals there. A few months ago I picked up an Alice + Olivia black mini dress that had been marked down for only $95! And they never seem to have a shortage of any brand, especially all of their Juicy Couture.

  2. 2
    October 15th, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I like Plato’s Closet. You really have to dig if you’re not into the typical teen style, but you can find really good quality clothes priced super cheap.. even cheaper than the rest of the clothes (because it’s not Abercrombie & Fitch, or whatever)

    However, my favorite place for a bargain is definitely thrift stores. Just recently I’ve gotten some pretty amazing steals.. I found a pair of flat Sigerson Morrison sandals for $2, Ferragamo pumps for around $4, and a pair of black pants by Piazza Sempione for $4.50. Can’t beat that.

  3. 3
    October 15th, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Yay I live near all of these :-) I love Nordstrom Rack, they always have the cutest bags. I haven’t been into Saks Off 5th yet since it just recently opened, but I’m really curious because I love the orginal Saks. My city also just recently opened a Plato’s Closet like last week I believe. I hear mixed reviews about that store in general, so I’m not sure if I’ll love it or not. Great post! Any time I go shopping for the weekend I always stop at the discount stores first before going to a mall. Saves tons of money!

  4. 4
    October 15th, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I agree with anon, thrift store are awesome. I got a pair of new black suede boots with the red soles at my local thrift store for EIGHT dollars. Best day ever. Also, some pretty adorable vintage-y pumps for about two to three dollars.

  5. 5
    October 15th, 2009 at 10:11 am

    GREAT post. You kind of have to be in the mood to shop around if you go to these stores, but you can find such great stuff there.

    I die over Plato”s Closet. They’re helping me pay for tuition by buying my old stuff.

  6. 6
    October 15th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I’m not sure if they have these all over the country, but in the South we have “Rugged Wearhouse”, I have gotten some pretty incredible deals there.
    Juicy shirts for under 20, and i didn’t buy this but they had those track suits for $15 a piece.
    They also carry tons of free people. really great store if you’re willing to look a bit

    Another great one in NY (where I’m originally from) is Century 21. Not sure if they have these in other parts of the country, but great stores for getting brand names.

  7. 7
    October 15th, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Oh my gosh, I LOVEEEEE Plato’s Closet.
    The first time I went there, I came out with Ralph Lauren, Gap, and American Eagle among many other brands.
    You have to do some digging, but the pieces are in good shape! I think everyone should check it out :)

  8. 8
    October 15th, 2009 at 11:06 am

    All of this Plato’s Closet love is really surprising to me. The only one I’ve ever been to only sells trashy juniors clothes (think denim micro minis and t-shirts with words like “sexy” bedazzled across the chest), so I’m really surpised to see that CF and so many other people love it! The only other thing on this list we have is a TJ Maxx, and that’s really not too good either. I can’t wait to move to a bigger city when I graudate :-)

  9. 9
    October 15th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    My favorite store of all time is Loehmann’s. They have all of the really nice brands (my favorites are free people, Romeo and Juliette Couture, Kenzie…) at great prices. Plus, they’re always having sales and they have a great petite section for tiny girls like me!

    And…if you’re in Boston, you should totally check out Rescue for great second hand stuff. The prices are really good, plus, you can score things from BCBG and even Marc Jacobs!!

  10. 10
    October 15th, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Great post! I think these stores are highly underrated.
    The closest Plato’s closet is in Fresno, a good 3 hours away, at least. Which is a shame, 30 miles up the road is Chico, a huge college town home to 2 colleges (the once infamous party school CSUC), and I know a Plato’s closet would do great there. Lulu’s, the now famous Lulu’, started not even 10 years ago in Chico, and look how well its doing.

  11. 11
    October 15th, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I live for the outlets here in Orlando. My favorite ones are the Bergdorf, Banana Republic, Michael Kors, Kenneth Cole & Jcrew ones.

  12. 12
    October 15th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Just a word of warning on the outlet stores: a lot of outlet stores make clothing directly for the outlet, so it’s not the same quality as you would find in the real store. So, a lot of the time, you’re really not saving much money at all. Do a little google search-you’ll be extremely turned off on outlet malls.

  13. 13
    October 15th, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    I miss Cali because I always found great outlets around my hometown.
    Now I go to Ross, Marchalls, Tj Maxx. But I do find many great things. I found 2 Express pants for under 3 dollars. And some pants by Sarah Jessica Parker for 2 dollars.

    Hey when we college girls are on a budget, discount stores are our best friends lol
    Great post, I am going to look for a Platos closet because I heard they have great stuff

  14. 14
    October 15th, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I love our Nordstrom Rack. I’d go there every week if I could!

  15. 15
    October 15th, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    They JUST opened a Nordstrom Rack by my house. Today was the opening day, but I couldn’t get down there at 8:45. I think I’ll have to stop by later, though…

  16. 16
    October 15th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Nordstrom Rack is the best! On outlet malls, I usually find some stores really do have discounted items, but the one I went to at home often sold things for the same prices and at nearly the same time as the normal stores. Outlets are so fun to go hang around with your gals, though…so many good times at mine! Lastly, I hadn’t heard of Plato’s Closet before, by my neighbor just got back from there with a bunch of little cocktail dresses, none of which cost her more than $10, so I really have to try it! Thank you so much for doing an article for those of us fashionistas with distinctly limited purse-strings.

  17. 17
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Loehman’s is the place to go :)

  18. 18
    October 15th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    I love Saks Off 5th even though I hardly ever get a chance to go there–it’s like an hour and a half away. But I got my prom dress there and LOVED it!

  19. 19
    October 15th, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    TJ Maxx is great! Once I found a BGBG shirt for $10 (and it’s amazing, I get a lot of compliments on it).
    If you live near or in a college town definitely go to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army! I always find brand new clothes that the students give away. A few weeks ago my Mom bought me a hardly worn Laundry by Shelli Segal dress for $5! It was originally over a hundred.

  20. 20
    October 15th, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    You’re missing the very best one – Neiman Marcus Last Call. They have marked down, very high end pieces and they only continue to get cheaper the longer they’re in the store. They’re still not cheap, the average item retails for what an average item from J. Crew or Banana Republic sells for, but this is designer stuff and I have found many a great find – a DKNY skirt, Cynthia Rowley skirt, Theory skirt and jackets, to name a few.

  21. 21
    October 16th, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Echoing Julie, Rugged Warehouse is my go-to place for cheap shopping. Like thrifting you have dig for the right stuff but they usually have a bunch of really cute cheap stuff. Most of their basic camis are like $2

  22. 22
    October 16th, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I found the most amazing shoes from D&G at an outlet mall last year. They were $79 (not cheap cheap but far less than the original $800 price). They’re black patent leather rockstar heels that aren’t too out there so they can be worn with jeans or black pants or even a dress. Aside from my everyday shoes, they’re probably the shoes I wear most from my closet. Really comfortable, too.

  23. 23
    October 17th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Here are four other discount shopping locales that are a “must visit” for the thrifty New York-based fashionista (or “frugalista,” as coined by Target):

    1. Loehmann’s – surprisingly organized, with an excellent assortment of bags, shoes, and RTW
    2. Daffy’s – definitely falls into the hit or miss category, but I’ve found items from Jeffrey Campbell, Moschino Cheap & Chic, and Plenty Frock by Tracy Reese
    3. Century 21 – beware: the tag line is “Fashion worth fighting for”
    4. DSW – designers like Miu Miu, Chloe, Marni, etc. abound!

    *Another place where one might find designer accessories is Housing Works. It’s a not-for-profit thrift shop, in case you’re not familiar with it. I once found a pair of Marc Jacobs peep-toe patent pumps while browsing, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

  24. 24
    October 25th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I really have not had good luck with platos at all. I guess it’s just the ones in my location, but the staff are very standoffish and rude and half of the clothes they sell are worn out Hollister shirts. They also have a lot of damaged and stained clothing. Don’t get me wrong, I have found a few good things there, but not a whole lot.

    Also, I work for Hollister. Today I went in to sell some shirts that I had worn in the summer/fall in order to get some cash to buy some new winter clothes. I gave them bags of stuff and they totally ripped me off. I also think the prices are a bit outrageous. $14 for a “gently used” AE sweater? I can get a brand new one on clearance for that much. Not worth it.

    But I can’t wait to check out the other suggestions! Thanks so much for this awesome post!

  25. 25
    October 28th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Some favorite deals I’ve scored:
    – $54 silk Marc by Marc Jacobs top at Loehmann’s
    – $5 Juicy Couture knit top at Goodwill
    – $6 Alexander McQueen for Target Zig Zag silk dress at Goodwill
    – $20 Express Wool Houndsooth Coat at Goodwill
    – $8 C&C Dress at Loehmann’s

    and my best designer deal ever:

    Auth Burberry white button down for $4 at Goodwill :)

    Eeeeee!!! It’s been over half a year ago and I’m still excited! :D

  26. 26
    November 21st, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I enjoy shopping at Nordstroms and the outlet malls because you can find some cool stuff for a low low price, but some Nordstrom is expensive . If i ever find something cheap there, I usually buy trendy items that I like.

  27. 27
    August 12th, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I’m in Canada, so we don’t have any of those places.

    Though I believe our T.J. Maxx is called Winners.

  28. 28
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    I hope to give something back and help others like you aided

  29. 29
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  30. 30
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