40 + Style

A Fashion Field Guide: Frugality and Fashion Part 2

Let’s talk about outlet shopping, shall we? I’m down with some outlet shopping and all for getting a good deal. I’m lucky to live close to a ginormous outlet mall with some good stores in it (Great Lakes Crossing). Plus, the people watching is incredible. The mix of cultures is not to be missed.

Have you ever wandered through the Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Rack or Sak’s outlets and wondered to yourself where all these crappy clothes were hiding in the regular store? Yeah… They were never in the regular store. The outlet stores mostly stock off brand and cheaper quality items that they don’t carry in the regular stores. They then pepper the crap with off-season and sale items from the regular stores. Can you find some gems? Yes, absolutely, but you need to wade through the crap to find them. Know that going in. Don’t expect to find a boatload of designer merchandise for cheap. You will first find a lot of cheap for cheap.

So, what about the Coach Factory Store? Do you want a REAL Coach bag without paying real Coach prices? Sure you do, and this is how you do it. Go to the Coach Factory Store and you walk to the very back of the store to the clearance and mishmash bag area. (This is hit or miss. Sometimes there are slim pickings, other times it is a mother lode of goodness.) The front 3/4 of the store is full of stuff that is made specifically for the outlet and was never intended for the regular store. Coach’s regular and factory business lines are totally separate.

Coach does not mark down the handbags in their regular store. They just send them to the outlet. I worked there a million years ago, hence my love for the bags. I’m just going to say this and y’all might think that I’m a snob, but I can tell the difference between a real Coach bag and a factory bag by sight. Again, I worked there, so I do have some experience. There is a DEFINITE difference in quality between the two and yes, everything about the real bags is better. Better leather, better hardware, better cute.

How can you tell the difference? There are two dead giveaways. A real bag is going to include a dust bag and a factory bag won’t. If for some reason the dust bag is missing, take a look at the logo on the price tag. If it looks like this it came from the regular store:


If it looks like this it is a factory bag.


You are welcome. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

Also, while we are on this same topic, let’s talk about Kate Spade. You know those amazing Kate Spade sales that pop up about every six weeks or so? BE CAREFUL. Many of the items included in the sale are items that are specifically made for the Kate Spade Outlet. Not all, but many. How can you tell? In the description about the bag it states that it was made for sale at the outlet. I just don’t want any of you to purchase a bag expecting one thing and getting another. The more you know… and all that.

Have a great day and stay classy!