This Sunday I went to the mall. As a previous mall employee, I try to steer clear of shopping arenas between Thanksgiving and New Year, however the receipt of a generous mall gift certificate, a change to bitter cold weather (and me a different size from last winter) and an upcoming company holiday party forced me to break my rule.
For those on a budget or with a certain lifestyle/fashion style may only visit certain stores in the mall. Be it a mall in California, Montana, New Jersey or Florida, many women will first visit their “safe stores.” When I worked at express, I was always fascinated by the women on vacation who would make time in their holiday schedule to check out the local Express. Yes, stores carry some different items based on clientele and geography, but the stores are usually 85% the same.
If you have the time, it is good on occasion to visit those stores you don't usually frequent. Artsy creative spirit? Try visiting a Talbots – you may find something surprising and wonderful. Conservative look? You may find the perfect “something” in a store like Bebe or Cache. Budget is more Wal Mart? It doesn't hurt to take a lap around Sigrid Olsen or Banana Republic”, see the season's new styles and peruse the sale racks for a gem.
I always start with Nordstrom. Their sale racks are amazing to find high quality clothes at amazing prices. Found a gorgeous pair of Enzo Angiolini boots for $59.90, originally close to $100.00. And they came in wide width for my sausage feet! I had similar boots from Payless that I purchased three years ago that had to be retired. I was worried to find a pointy toe and slim high heel black leather boot may cost me close to $100. For a boot that may last me for another three years, for jeans and business casual and even suits – I find $60 to be a fabulous deal.
I then headed to Ann Taylor. Ann Taylor sells sizes from 2 to 16, most styles in Petites. Ann Taylor usually has a pretty extensive sale rack with many current pieces and a multitude of sizes. I have found that different malls seem to carry different sizes in their sale rack. When I head toward the ritzy part of the city, I seem to find larger sizes left in the sale department. If I head to the suburbs or more remote malls, the sale rack holds more small sizes (something to consider for your big shopping trips).
At Ann Taylor I found a ton of wonderful pieces in their sale section. A black merino cowl neck sweater for $29.99 (not shown on website). A pair of winter white heavy sueded cotton cuffed trousers for $29.99, and a pair of black trousers the same fabric as an Ann Taylor suit jacket in my closet at home for $39.99. I had purchased a Love Cures card, which gave me 15% off any purchase of $100 or more. This brought my purchase of three classic items to about $85.00. The prices were equivalent to stores like Target or Old Navy, but still the pieces had quality, great fit, great style. It really is possible to find quality at low prices.
Since I was with my mom, we then headed to Chicos. This is my mom's favorite store as that they sell easy-care and artistic clothing that fits her body shape as well as her personality. The clothes are not my type, but I have found some great pieces of jewelry in there. This time while my mom was in the fitting room I found some classic ribbed crew neck sweaters in a silk blend that skimmed the body and came in some wonderful saturated colors. Regularly $49, these sweaters were on sale for $39 and my mom had a discount club card for an additional 5% off. I bought the sweater in basic black and a rosy red, seeing these sweaters go from being a suit shell, to business casual with trousers, to weekend wear with jeans. I had a similar sweater from Express a few years ago that got mangled in the wash. I was thrilled to find a substitute, and even in a similar color in a store I rarely even enter.
I went to the mall reciting my mantra of “Versatile sweaters, work pants, black boots. Versatile sweaters, work pants, black boots”. I saw many fabulous things in many great stores, stores I don't always frequent, stores I don't always have success in or feel match my personality. If you have the time during your shopping adventure, be daring and visit a new store. You may be pleasantly surprised! Often it is possible to find quality as well as quantity in your local mall!