Shopping for discounted designer fashion can be extremely overwhelming: sifting through last year’s styles, untangling jewelry, looking for clothing imperfections, and struggling to find things that fit. This cheat sheet is designed to provide you with strategies, insights, and tips on how to make your discount fashion shopping experience a success!


What Is a “Discount Fashion Store?”

The stores I’m referring to are national retail stores that offer a variety of Name Brand designers at lower prices. This excludes outlet stores because outlets are generally associated with one specific brand, as opposed to offering a large variety of brands.

These stores include, but are not limited to: Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off 5th, Marshalls, DSW, Burlington Coat Factory, Ross, and TJ Maxx.

List of discount fashion stores


-Go With a Goal:

Because discount stores are generally large, and packed with clothing, jewelry, and shoes of all kinds, set a goal before you get too overwhelmed. Maybe you need a new pair of jeans, a basic white undershirt, or a new winter sweater. Decide what your wardrobe is missing before you even go shopping. Then, when you’re at the store focus your efforts on looking for that one specific item. By focusing your efforts and not becoming overwhelmed you’re more likely to leave the store with a great find!


-Look for Styles That You Know Look Good on You & Brands You’re Familiar With:

Crunched for time? Because discount stores offer an abundance of brands and styles, everything will ultimately fit you very differently. As you shop, think about colors and cuts that you know are flattering on you. If you’ve tried on peplum tops in the past and know they never work, save yourself the trip to the dressing room. This also applies to brands. For example, I love Free People, but I know that their clothing generally runs large so instead of getting my hopes up every time I see a cute shirt, I just pass on the rack altogether.

-Overwhelming Options & Off-Season Items:

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I have watched my local Nordstrom Rack unbox and display the same bikinis for the past three seasons. They add new bikinis, but they
strategically mix-in the suits from previous years that didn’t sell. Because it can become unclear which items are “so last year,” or even last last year’s fashion, I recommend consulting a couple of fashion magazines or doing some quick research before driving to the store. I started doing this after getting stuck at a discount store with several items thinking to myself, “Is this even in fashion anymore?” In order to avoid buying something that’s already outdated, do some prior research on what’s currently fashionable and what’s ahead for next season.

Note: Discount Fashion Stores are great places to find staple pieces that never go out of style. While you’re debating over purchasing that statement jacket, stock up on undershirts, basic tees, and underwear!


-Don’t Be Shy About Asking for Additional Discounts:

Because the garments have gone in and out of bins/boxes so many times and have been tried on by so many people, they can often times become damaged: jewelry missing stones, shirts missing buttons, blouses with a couple makeup stains, and skirts with snags. If you find a damaged garment that you still want to purchase (missing buttons are easily replaced), ask an employee if you can be given an additional discount. Be sure to identify that the item is damaged, a manager is also always more likely to give you a discount than a standard employee. For damaged items you will typically be given an additional discount of 10-15%, sold at final sale.


-Inspect All Your Clothing for Imperfections:

Although the majority of items that end up at discounted stores are specifically designed and manufactured to be sold at a discount, there are still some items that end up there because of manufacturing mistakes. Common manufacturing mistakes include sewing errors, crooked seams or irregular fit. Sewing mistakes are more forgivable on items like purses, where the “fit” isn’t as crucial. When shopping for clothing at discount stores, make sure the seams are straight- on jeans and pants especially. It will be obvious to you if you look down and see the seam on your jeans trying to wrap around your leg.


-Find Out When Stores Receive New Shipments:

Feel like you can always find cute things, but never in the size or color you want? One of the tricks to shopping discount stores is timing. Ask an employee or manager at the store about when they typically receive new shipments. If you can schedule to shop on the days that stores receive new shipments (usually on a weekday), you have a much higher chance of finding something you’ll love, and in your size!


-Sign Up For Newsletters and Rewards Cards:

A lot of online stores will give you a 10%, or 15% off discount code for signing up for their newsletters. No one likes junk mail, but signing up for newsletters from your favorite discount stores has some great benefits. Newsletters will inform you about new mark-downs, and even alert you if they receive a shipment of your favorite brands! Another way to snag additional discounts is to sign up for rewards cards. Rewards cards (not credit cards), are free to sign up for and will help rack up points on your purchases for bigger future discounts. Why wouldn’t you sign up?

sign up for reward cards to receive even MORE discounts!

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-Explore The Online Store:

Don’t forget that a lot of large national discount stores also offer an online shopping experience. If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of time, is difficult to fit, or is looking for a very specific item- I recommend checking out the online stores. Clothes can be filtered based by size, including petite and plus size. You can also filter by brand, color, style, and price. When I’m looking for something specific, online shopping is a quick and easy way to find out if a specific store offers what I’m looking for. Returns are also easier than ever! Most stores now accept online order returns, saving you the cost of return shipping.


Need a wardrobe update? Check out: “100 Items Under $100 to Instantly Update Your Closet!”