14 June 2011

NYC: Notes on a Sample Sale

As I may have mentioned one or two times before, J. Crew is one of my favourite US stores and so when I found out (thanks to J. Crew Aficionada that they were having a sample sale this week, while I was in New York, I couldn't not go. I turned up to the Garment District location about 45 minutes after the sale opened for the first day and the queue stretched about a block. I was told I'd probably have to wait about 25 minutes and this was pretty accurate. Most of the other people in the queue were 20- and 30-something females, although there were a few men, including some who appeared to be buying on behalf of someone else.

I'm not exactly a sample sale expert (although I do have some experience at Bicester Village) but here are my tips and observations:
  1. Most of the stock was old, or at least current, rather than samples of upcoming seasons. I spotted a few items that were on the website back in March. As I only get to go to J. Crew about twice a year, this was fine but regulars may be more irritated by this.
  2. Not many items are available in small sizes (i.e. anything smaller than a US 4 or maybe even a 6). This is bad news if, like me, you take a 0, 00 or, preferably, a 00P.
  3. You can only take your wallet and a cell phone into the sale; bags have to be checked. So it's worth wearing a jacket with pockets.
  4. There are no changing rooms and there isn't even much space in which to change. This means it's worth focusing on skirts, cardigans and jackets rather than trousers unless you're confident the clothes will fit. I wore a pull-on jersey skirt as I knew it would be easy to try on shorts or skirts underneath but leggings could also be a good move.
  5. All of the items are organised by garment type and then size but it's worth checking other sections too. A lot of people dump (or hide, maybe) clothes in the wrong section.
  6. All clothes of the same garment type cost the same price: a skirt will be $50 whether it's a wool, lined pencil skirt or a flimsy, polyester skirt. Some things are thus better value than others.

In the end I only bought a wool, lined pencil skirt in a pretty shade of teal. I've been eating such a skirt for a while — in navy or charcoal really but I like teal and it goes with most of my wardrobe. Initially, I saw it in a size 2P (wow, a petite size! That's the right length on me!) and when I tried it on, the fit was OK but a little loose. I was deliberating when I happened to catch a glimpse of the same skirt, dumped on some shoes. It turned out to be a size 0P, which fit pretty well. As these skirts usually retail for about $120, I think $50 was a bargain. And I don't care whether it's last season's colours.

I didn't see anything else that tempted me much; not in my size, anyway. There were some nice tan ballet pumps but they were too tiny. I'd say that visiting the sale was worth it for me — for the experience, if nothing else, although I might not rush back to the next one now that I know it won't contain exciting new stock.

Then, because I hadn't spent enough time waiting in line, I headed to nearby Madison Square Park and queued for 45 minutes for a Shake Shack cheese burger (also worth the wait)...

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