Expensive Stores as Bargain Hunting Grounds

As far as budget shopping goes, conventional wisdom and instinct tell us to forget about Neiman Marcus or Bloomies because those places are clearly for people of a higher income bracket. Most of the time, this holds true. I've never found anything affordable on sales racks at Bloomies, rarely at Nordy's, and 80% successful at Macy's. Therefore, I've never bother stepping foot into Neiman Marcus or Saks. Even if there are sales, stores of that caliber tend to clear out old stuff (which land in places like Loehmann's) to make way for the new because they have a reputation to protect. They're purveyors of luxury goods, not outlet stores; mere mortals need not shop or browse lest they want to get kicked out for badgering celeb customers.

However, the forbidding image of such establishments is exactly why those stores have bargains left for those without much disposable income. Generally, people who shop there are well-heeled and tend to have discriminating tastes. Since there aren't that many people who can afford fine apparel at sky-high prices, these stores may end up overstocking and have lots of goodies left at the end of the season, or even before the end of the season. We know how fickle the fashion world is. Things that are immediately popular has to be moved in right away to keep the wealthy customers, which means clothes that don't sell as well but are still in-season have to go somewhere. Of course, this only applies to certain stores, and it is often hard to predict which stores subscribes to my theory. But once you figure out which one fits the bill, you can sore big.

Take Kenneth Cole as an example. Even though Kenneth Cole is in the "low to mid-range" price bracket (depends on who you talk to), full-priced items are definitely beyond my reach. I've snagged or seen a few bargains online, particularly at Macy's, Classic Closeouts, and Smartbargains. A few months ago I walked into a Kenneth Cole boutique store on a whim. I figured, since it's the end of the season, there just might be good deals. It turns out I was right. Sure, prices were not super low ($20-30 for tops and some bags), but the goods are certainly affordable compared to the $100 or up price bracket, especially for work-worthy tops and bottoms. I didn't buy anything there that day, but my friend did (and she usually wouldn't shop at boutiques either).

For Neiman Marcus, I don't know if they have good deals in the brick-and-mortar store, but their Last Call section of the website certainly does. You can save up to 75% for things that can be worn year after year, if not year-round. This Juicy Couture velvet top fits right in with several fall trends--it's black (yes, black is the new black, blah blah blah) and it's velvet. At $38, it's certainly more affordable than when it sold for $150. Still not cheap, but considering that velvet is a fairly luxurious fabric, the price is certainly reasonable. Heck, Juicy sells terry cloth stuff for $40 at sample sales. I'm not a fan of ruffled babydoll tops, since they don't hug curves at all, but it has a pretty bow in the back and I see great prospects as a miniskirt for a holiday party. A lot of other designer stuff are also mid-priced--again, not exactly cheap by my book, but certainly affordable. I'm willing to spend more money on things I wear to work, just not for play.

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