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Deal Divas

Stephanie Hayes, Katie Sanders, Kameel Stanley, & Keyonna Summers

Outlet mall shopping? Get the best deals

Shoppers flocked to Tampa Premium Outlets when it opened last year in Wesley Chapel.

Loren Elliott | TIMES

Shoppers flocked to Tampa Premium Outlets when it opened last year in Wesley Chapel.



Have you noticed how familiar the emails from our favorite shops are getting?

Last week, Anthropologie popped up in my inbox with the subject line "Current mood: this dress."

The week before, Modcloth emailed me, "We've thought about this a lot, and the thing is..." I opened the email. The "thing" was that it was Valentine's Day, and Modcloth wanted to tell me they loved me.

Current mood: OK, I get it, you've recognized that I'm a millennial. Sure, I'll have another freshly-baked browser cookie!

Today I got an email from Old Navy titled, "$19 pants. That's how we do." And I wanted to snark right back. Because last weekend, while visiting my folks in West Palm Beach, I visited the outlet mall, and I'm currently wearing $13 pants from Ann Taylor.

Thirteen dollar pants is how I do, Old Navy.

We at Deal Divas are huge fans of outlet shopping. Just a few minutes ago I was having a conversation with friend Ileana about the virtues of J.Crew Factory, in a breathless, gushing style I imagine humankind once reserved for the discovery of fire.

But I think one thing I've learned over the years is that showing up to an outlet mall or logging into a "Factory" website isn't really enough to get the best deals. Here are some of my best tips for scoring deep discounts:

+ When I go outlet shopping, and I'm on my best fiscal behavior, I head straight to the clearance section. The double-discounts are astonishing. Some of my favorite work dresses are $15 finds from these racks. My new $13 pants - a velvety burgundy - are just the latest example. While regular outlet merchandise is already "on sale," I feel like the price is often marked-up just to get marked-down again.

+ Mid-priced stores like Banana Republic and Ann Taylor have the best deals. I love J.Crew outlet, but unless you're shopping clearance, you're still looking at $60 for a pencil skirt. Kate Spade's outlet store still has Kate Spade prices. Not that there's anything wrong with that - I bought a $98 dress there, originally $400 - but just have your eyes open that it's not going to be pennies.

+ J.Crew Factory's website has "Clear The Clearance" sales to figuratively die for. Sign up for their emails and you'll always be in the loop when their clearance section gets reduced an additional 50 percent. Right now you can get 40 percent off their clearance section with code "pickled." That means gorgeous fuschia work trousers like these are $18.

+ Become a member of the outlet malls you live nearby for free coupons and sale alerts. Diva Katie and I signed up for Ellenton's, and now we're eligible to pick up a big book of coupons from their Guest Services desk. You can flag which stores you shop most at so you're not getting random discounts for orthopedic shoe stores (unless that's what you're into, you do you).

How do you get the best deals when outlet shopping? Let us know in the comments, or through finely-tuned telepathy.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 2, 2016 10:53am]


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