Friday Monday post is about outlet shopping. The closest outlet malls to Charlottesville are Potomac Mills south of D.C. and the Premium Outlets in Williamsburg. They both have some great stores. Potomac Mills has all of the usuals (Banana, J Crew, etc) plus all of the dept stores (Saks Off Fifth, Nordstrom Rack, Neimans Last Call). The Premium Outlets also has all of the usuals plus some other stores that Potomac doesn’t have, like Kate Spade, Burberry, Cole Haan.
I don’t know about you, but I have to set a shopping budget for myself otherwise things can get out of hand. Right now my budget is $200/month (about half of what I make for T.A.ing one class). Although I have tried to adjust my budget (up and down) for how much I make at a given time, it pretty much stays constant around $200. I view my T.A. money as spending money because it is an extra position I agreed to take on (it comes as a completely separate paycheck from my regular salary). I take half of what I make for T.A.ing and spend it on shopping and the other half goes directly to my money market account. This month I went a little bit over my budget, but I had told myself that when I ran the marathon I’d get myself a little treat (I’ve done it for other marathons before). Little did I know how amazing the Kate Spade outlet store would be in Williamsburg 🙂 Purses, wallets, shoes, planners, clothes galore! And what I ended up choosing was… a Kate Spade noel print hobo w/cross-body strap
I don’t typically go for “designer” prints, but Kate Spade isn’t really a designer bag and the Noel print doesn’t scream “look at me, look at me!” It’ll be so fun for spring.
I also stopped at a few other stores and found some fantastic items. At Banana and H&M I got a really cute top and dress (which I’ll probably to wear to Foxfields!):
I also found some really great Coach shoes and wedge sandals:
Here are some tips based off my own experience that can be useful when shopping at the outlets:
- Know what stores are there ahead of time. Look at the directory online or at the mall when you get there, that way you know what stores you are interested in. These places can be huge (Potomac Mills is the largest single-floor mall in Virginia with over 225 retailers) and overwhelming. Setting a plan ahead of time also prevents you from overspending.
- Look at the outlet website ahead of time; sometimes there are extra coupons!
- If you can, try to go during the week or avoid holidays. These places can get packed and the crowds can make it difficult (and annoying) to walk around. If the mall is outside, like the one in Williamsburg (similar to ones I’ve been to in Wrenthem, MA, Las Vegas, or the infamous Woodbury Outlets in NY), try to pick a day that isn’t too hot or raining.
- Just because an item is cheaper at the outlet mall doesn’t mean you should buy it, even if it is designer. A lot of the items at the outlet department stores are significantly marked down, but are still ugly/out of style/just not right. Make sure the item fits you and what you have! Banana Republic Outlet’s clothes, for instance, are known for having funny tailoring. Something might look really cute on the hanger but may not fit you right because it was made cheaply. Further, not all shops in outlets malls are outlets and sell items cheaper then normal. Some sell regularly priced items. Just make sure you are getting your money’s worth.
- Look (somewhat) decent. This goes for any shopping trip, but it helps if you do your hair/makeup that way you look your best in the fitting room. I also believe that store employees treat you better if you look better (I know, I know it’s so superficial). If it’s a big outlet mall–and they usually are–wear some cute flats so you’re comfortable walking around all day.
- Try to buy some basic, timeless pieces at outlets. J.Crew outlet, for instance, has great cardis, button-ups, and khakis. If your work environment is more formal, it’s also a great place to stock up on quality suiting pieces.
For more tips, visit this article from MSN.
What are some good items you’ve found at outlet stores?