The $400 Shopping Spree – Head to the outlets?

The $400 Shopping Spree – Head to the outlets?

From the Mailbag:  Are outlets the best place to upgrade your wardrobe?

Above photo credit

Hey Joe:

My birthday is approaching, and this year my girlfriend is proposing a ‘shopping spree’ for me.  She knows that I have a hard time buying things for myself, but it looks like the perfect opportunity to upgrade my entire wardrobe.  My budget for this spree is $400.  The question is, where do I go?  One option I’ve been thinking about is heading to a pretty extensive outlet mall about an hour away.

Thoughts on that?  Do I shop around the regular Macy’s and Banana Republic locations, or do I try to maximize the budget with a trip to the outlet mall’s Banana Republic and J-Crew stores, with possibly sacrificing some quality?

– Steve

Here’s the deal about outlet malls.  They stick most of them in the middle of nowhere with the intent of putting some Jedi mind-trick pressure on shoppers once they get there.  Many end up feeling like they have to buy something.  You made the hike out there, so you can’t leave completely empty handed… right?

Wrong.  You can.  And you should leave the outlet mall empty handed if you don’t find anything you want.

That’s not to say you can’t pick up some great stuff at incredibly low prices.  But I’d suggest Steve take a two pronged approach.  Make a list of what he really wants, head to the outlet mall, see what can be knocked out without sacrificing any fit or too much finish, then hit the regular retail stores or web afterward for the rest.  $400 is a pretty solid chunk of change.  Let’s see how far we can stretch it away from the outlets.

The $400 Wardrobe Revamp:

The Reasoning: Six items for $400 might not seem like the biggest haul, but hear me out.  The L.L. Bean Signature Cotton suit can be worn together, or the pants and jacket can be worn separately.  The shoes are Italian made and pretty simple, the denim jacket would go great with the L.L. Beans pants, and if you add the J. Crew shirt to the jean jacket/chinos, you’ve got a terrific casual date night outfit.  Tie clips seem to be falling out of favor, but if you prefer a shirt and tie to a suit, they’ll keep your torso streamlined.

Or… Steve can just blow it all on J. Crew’s perfect Fine Stripe Cotton Ludlow suit, pick up a blue shirt and simple black tie, and be set for every summer wedding & warm weather event coming his way.  Your thoughts?

J.Crew at ShopStyle