April 13, 2011

Today's Everyday Fashion: Secrets of Shopping at Banana Republic






































Since everyone has been asking how I get such great deals at Banana Republic, and much of today's outfit is from there, I am spilling my deal-scoring secrets today! My tips:

1. Buy in-store. Proceed with caution when shopping online. 95% of the time, the price is much higher online, even if you have a coupon. Almost all of my great deals were found in the store. 
2. Don't miss the day-after-Christmas sale. This sale is amazing, I never miss it. This is where I scored many of my crazy good deals including the nude pumps I wear all the time for $20, a silk shirt for $15, a dress for $50. By far the best way to get a great deal.
3. Look for the "sale" signs that are NOT in the sale section. That means there are too many left to fit in the sale section, and are often the lowest prices in the store. 
4.  "Figure out the retail cycle." I do this with tons of stores I visit, but I try to figure out where they are in the process of putting out new stuff and marking down old stuff. The day when new merchandise hits stores is usually when they mark things down crazy low. Such as yesterday's pants. When I visited the store, they had just put out new stock so ALL the sale pants were marked down to $14.
5. Try to predict future markdowns when there are multiples. I had my eye on a purple cardigan for a couple weeks. They had 20 left in my size that were $30. I took a gamble, came back the next week, and they were marked down to $15. Score!
6. Sign up for the credit card. Most retail credit cards are a waste of time, but Banana/Gap gives you awesome rewards and coupons. This is another way I stay so savvy about shopping at those stores.
7. Explore your options. Find something amazing in the sale section, but it's not your size? You can have them ship you the correct size from another store. If you have the credit card the shipping is free. If not they charge you for shipping but could still be worth it if you found a great deal.
8. Acknowledge regional differences. I lived in Boston for 4 years, and while I was able to score the occasional $10 shirt, it seems like there are much better deals here in Orlando. All the more reason to go shopping while you are on vacation!
9. Stay smart about outlet shopping. Clothing at the Banana Republic Outlet (and many other retail outlet stores including J.Crew) are made specifically for the outlet stores and are NOT the same quality or style. They are often made by a totally different company, and even if the item looks identical the material is different. I'm not cautioning you from outlet shopping altogether, but I think it's important to be a smart consumer and know what you are paying for!

Occasion: Work
Inspiration photo: J.Crew
Cardigan: LOFT, $20
Shirt: Banana Republic, $17
Belt: Banana Republic, $30
Skirt: Banana Republic, $35
Shoes: Chinese Laundry/Piperlime, $34
Necklace: Banana Republic, $20
Charm: c/o Stella & Dot, $19
Watch: Michael Kors, family gift
Bracelet: Forever 21, $10

62 comments:

  1. Great tips, J! I agree about 95% of the time, in store prices are much lower than online prices. Thanks for the tips.

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  2. I completely agree with the regional differences. I live in Boston and can hardly find good deals on really nice clothing that are my size. I tend to find better deals down south.

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  3. Yay thanks for doing this post!!

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  4. Thank you so much for this! Now I'm no longer too afraid to step foot into Banana-- I'll take these tips and hopefully score some good deals!

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  5. Great tips! I'll be sure to keep these in mind the next time I plan on going out to do some damage. ;)

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  6. Thanks for the tips!! LOVE the outfit!

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  7. Yeah, it definitely depends on the economy you live in. Deals are getting better in Toronto. I bought a pair of cargos yesterday for $30 marked down from $110. Awesome deal, but it also concerns me that BR is marking down so quickly and so heavily. It's hurting them big time. Margins aren't there and in the long run it could mean they'll start closing stores..

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  8. I am not sure if this works for all BR, but for mine you can use your student discount. I graduated college several years ago but still have my ID. I get 15% off ALL items, even sale items.

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  9. That's a great tip, thank you Brooke!

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  10. These are some AWESOME tips! Thanks for sharing them :)

    ♡ from © tanvii.com

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  11. This applies to The Limited as well. Although I cannot remember if they offer 10 or 15% to students. I think it is only 10%.

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  12. Stephanie, that's a great point about profit margins. I do sometimes wonder if the deals I'm getting are "too good"? It's definitely a balance, because I don't want Banana to close, but as a consumer I want the best deal possible!

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  13. J, So would you suggest visiting the stores weekly to see when the prices drop, and if so, is there a better day of the week? I live pretty near to both Gap and BR and wondered when the best time would be to strike!

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  14. I am new to this blog but have already picked up so many great things from you, J! Thanks so much! I feel like my style has been set aside since becoming a mommy almost two years ago but your blog is a quick easy way for me to get fresh ideas. Thanks so much! I feel inspired!

    ***And, another tip for banana republic shoppers: If you are a cardholder and missed out on a coupon because it expired, just call the customer service number on the back of the card and they will usually send you another coupon or give you a credit to your account! I just did that a couple months ago and the guy was so nice and made it easy!

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  15. Banana and J.Crew also offer a 10-15% discount for students if they show their student id. Most stores don't advertise this so you just have to ask (pretty sure J.Crew just upped their 10% discount to 15%!)

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  16. Sara_ItsAboutTheLookApril 13, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Banana is one of my favorite places for deals! Both BR and J Crew can have some great sales if you're patient, they're stuff can go on sale quickly enough (but I think BR has better quality!)

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  17. It would be a terrible shame if that happened. I LOVE Banana as much as you do and I think 80% of my wardrobe is from there but I also love a great deal. I always wait to see if it'll go on sale.

    Unfortunately for them, (perhaps fortunately for us ) what they're doing right now is training us to shop on sale and bargain hunt. It would be tough to untrain us,if you know what I mean, should they elect to change their pricing style at some point in the near future. They would likely lose a large part of their customer base..

    But, $100,000 in sales at regular price far exceeds $100,000 in sales at 60% off. It's such a catch 22 at this point.

    I work for a large shopping centre developer and in light of the recent "sale" model a lot of retailers are adapting , doing new business with them has gotten increasingly more challenging.

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  18. Thanks for the tips! You look fly in that color green.

    http://asktheduplex.blogspot.com/

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  19. J, I lived in NY and Banana Republic was so great esp at the Westchester Mall..Now Im in London and I have found the B.R store and they had a sale last month I bought a shirt for £10/$13 and a 2 days later I went to get it in another colour and the price had gone back up to ful sale price at £55/$60!! Why???

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  20. J, I lived in NY and Banana Republic was so great esp at the Westchester Mall..Now Im in London and I have found the B.R store and they had a sale last month I bought a shirt for £10/$13 and a 2 days later I went to get it in another colour and the price had gone back up to ful sale price at £55/$60!! Why???

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  21. As a former BR manager, the best tip is to make friends with a BR employee. They will be happy to put you in their client book and call when there are new shipments and sales. Shipments come on certain days of the week, and generally there's a certain day for markdowns. For the best merchandise selection, shop before the weekend and early in the day. Merchandise in the sale section is often the end of a run/broken sizes, not the best markdowns and there are always markdowns throughout the store. There are regional differences, volume differences, and mall differences in stores -- what they receive in merchandise and what sells, and how something is marked down. In larger cities it makes sense to get familiar with the character of each store. Make sure your email is registered with BR; there are so many email discount offers that can be combined with sale prices.

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  22. wow.. awesome tip about the outlet shopping at Banana and J. Crew!! I had no idea that the clothes were any different. you never cease to impress me J ;)

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  23. As a former BR manager, the best tip is to make friends with a BR employee. They can keep your sizes and preferences on a client card, and call you for new shipments, sales, etc. Shipment is received generally on certain days, and markdowns also occur on a certain day. The best time to shop is early in the day before the weekend. Weekends mean heavy volume sales, and no new merchandise until shipment arrives early in the week. Stores are stocked based on region, sales volume, mall location, etc. These factors also influence what markdowns are occurring, and how low the markdowns will be. Always make sure your email is registered with BR so you will receive notification of many discounts that can be combined with markdown prices.

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  24. I'm pretty sure the student discount does not apply to ALL sales but it never hurts to ask!!!

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  25. Wow! Those are some great tips!!! Thank you so much for sharing! It seems like everyone else can find some amazing deals at BR, but I never really had any luck there - but now I can use a little more strategy! Love this look too - great neutral outfit!

    sweetandsassy-sherry.blogspot.com

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  26. Because it was a promotional price, not a true markdown. J. Crew does that often.

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  27. Totally agree with you on the Gap/Banana/Old Navy card. As a former Gap employee, I can tell you that if you shop their stores a lot you will definitely save. The card opens up lots of access to rewards, coupons, etc. As always love your posts! Thanks for sharing your "secrets!"

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  28. Thanks for the great tips on scoring deals at Banana!!!

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  29. Thanks for the heads up about outlet shopping. I did not know that about the quality of the garments so that's good to know. Also, you inspired me to take dressing room pictures the other day after I read your Target designer dresses post. Fun!

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  30. Thanks for the great tips J! I have always wondered how you were able to get great things for so low at BR and know I know! lol...I do agree that there are huge differences in terms of what you find in one store and what your find in another store. The BR where I live is hit or miss at times and I love visiting other BR when I am on vacation and checking out what they have.

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  31. Brilliant tips! Your mention of regional differences particularly caught my attention. I moved to a small city in KY a few years ago and there is one BR in the entire city. But for the after-Christmas sale, amazing deals are rare in this one store.

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  32. Very true about Outlet stores!!! I love great deals though...Cute look

    dymeintheruff.blogspot.com

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  33. I'm tiny so nothing there fits me! :(

    www.shoesandjules.com

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  34. jseverydayfashionApril 17, 2011 at 1:12 AM

    Juliette, they have a great petite section, have you tried it? I also have problems with their regular XS tops being ginormous. I love their stuff though, so I I'll try the petite XS, or I find that tucking the top in or belting it really helps.

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  35. I never knew they had petites.. I haven't been inside a Banana Republic in YEARS because I disregard the store completely thinking that nothing will fit. Thanks for letting me know! I'm definitely going to check it out on my next trip to the mall.

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  36. Is your skirt dry clean only? If not, how does it wash? Do you need to iron it?

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  37. jseverydayfashionApril 24, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    Colleen, it's dry clean only, but I use Dryel (at home dry cleaning). It comes with a little stain-remover thing that is basically Shout for dry-clean items, works like a charm!

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  38. Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

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  39. I actually just started shopping at BR. I use to not even think about walking in there thinking they were too expensive. However, since shopping there I have found some great deals. I don't think I paid more than $25 for anything.

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  40. Hi! I love your blog so much! I know this is an old post but I had a question about something you wrote. Why are online retailers usually higher priced than in store?

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  41. jseverydayfashionMay 30, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Thanks Melanie! I don't know the answer for certain, but my theory is that clothes take up valuable space in a retail store and they are more desperate to get rid of items, and therefore more willing to mark them down. Online retailers use storage/warehouses that aren't as crucial to clear-out. Prices are almost always lower in stores though, with a couple exceptions like J.Crew, but that store is a catalog store first and a retail store second, so it makes sense that they would have a lot of mark downs online. Hope this helps!

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  42. Oh. My. God. You did NOT need to tell me this...
    Just kidding, I'm glad you did. But my lunch break won't be. In the "shopping village" my office is in, I can look right over and see Banana Republic. I've avoided it because I figured their sale rack wasn't much to write home about like the Ann Taylor Loft across the street, but guess who's about to be a very frequent customer?
    Might I add, it's also on the way to my morning Starbucks indulgence! :)

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  43. jseverydayfashionJune 7, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    I would be there everyday Anna! They have the best sales!

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  44. Just found your blog! I am in LOVE!  Thanks for sharing your knowledge, especially about the outlet info (i did not know that)!  

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  45. jseverydayfashionJune 22, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    Thanks Janelle and welcome to the blog! :-)

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  46.  Thanks, makes sense!

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  47. Miss J, I love your blog! I just found it this morning when one of my sorority sisters pinned it on Pinterest and I've been reading through literally everything on here! Question though, you talk about learning the "retail cycle." This will probably sound dumb, but how do you do that? I know I don't go shopping all the time and I don't have friends who work at the stores I shop at. Thanks girl!(:

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  48. Thank you so much Lauren and welcome to the blog! There are two main retail cycles - everyone does a big switch in inventory right after Christmas/New Year's and also at the end of June, so those two are by far the best times of year to get great deals. Beyond that though, stores are constantly getting in "new lines" and marking things down. To figure out where a store is currently, or how new an item is, I would just ask a manager. Asking "when are you getting new items in?" is a sneaky way to ask when they will mark things down (because both happen at the same time). Or if you are more bold like me, I just bluntly ask when they expect to mark an item down, or sometimes I  ask if they have a lot of that item in the back, because then I'll know what my chances are of getting a great deal on it (the more they have, the lower the price goes). I hope this helps!

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  49. Agree with you on Banana. About 80% of my closet is from Banana, starting from about 8 years ago in college. I got up to the Luxe card about 2 years ago, and since I shop there all the time, I put my apartment utilities on that credit card and rack up points and discounts for clothes I would have already bought! They also have amazing deals--I wish J. Crew would follow their model.
    Would love to know what other stores like Banana do this...but I don't want to have too many credit cards.

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  50. Susan, many of the tips above apply to any retail store, but other stores that have huge markdowns and crazy deals include LOFT, Ann Taylor and Gap. 

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  51. My husband worked full time sales at BR for 3 years. If you're a frequent shopper at one location, make friends with a salesperson. Usually, BR will have at least 2 full time salespeople, so you should be able to catch one of them at the store 40 hours a week. There are friends and family discount coupons they hand out in store and email to you. These are special discounts for friends and regular clients and always 40%-50% off. Yes, that's right. 50% off your entire purchase in store or online including sale items (this is the discount employees always get so it's as good as it gets for customers).The only catch is that the coupon only lasts 2-3 days over a weekend so you gotta use it quick. This promotion happens about 4 times a year and coincides with stock cycles when they are changing out seasonal clothing. When you get this friends and family coupon from the employee in person or via email, not only can it be used at BR but it can also be used at Gap and Old Navy (all part of Gap Inc). Each employee gets 10 paper coupons to hand out and can email the promotion to their entire client list. Say YES to a BR card for additional promotions and GET on their client list. It helps them meet their sales goals, and you will get some awesome deals.

    All that being said, if you guys love BR clothes, that right there is some great semi-secret advice. Given that I had the Gap Inc employee discount available to me for 3 years, I got SO sick of the quality of clothing. Every shirt I have has small holes forming in it...not sure why. Dresses and suiting from BR I have been very happy with. I used our discount mostly at Gap for pants and blouses. The clothing quality is just as good, if not better, then at BR. 

    Another semi-secret tip: The BR and Gap Outlet stores do NOT carry the same styles as regular Gap and BR, but completely different clothes often made out of the same fabrics and the quality is no different. I've found some of my favorite pieces at the outlets of these stores.  

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  52. BR just had the friends & family discount and this year it was 5 items at 50% off, so it is definitely worth it to "befriend" a sales associate to get on the list. They do this more than 4 times a year now though. Last year they had 40% off coupons every Tuesday for weeks. They also did away with paper coupons for friends & family, it's all email based and each employee gets 20. 

    As for outlet styles, YES I totally agree - that is the same advice I gave above. It's not the same items at all, in fact Gap uses a totally different company to make those clothes - different designs and quality.

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  53. I did not know that outlet stores often do not carry the same items as the retail stores.  I always thought it was last season's stuff.  But that does make sense since I never see items from the Kate Spade website end up at the outlet, which always seems to be random like style purses.  I do still love the Banana Republic outlet though.  I always have great luck with pants there, so between the BR outlet and Loft outlet, I've almost completely turned over my work pants collection.  I'll be more careful now due to your advice.  

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  54. I have a friend that works at the Kate Spade outlet and I believe that they get some old items from the actual store from time to time. That is definitely not the case with Banana/Gap though. Banana tags have three little dots that indicate "outlet" and you can't return them to regular stores. Glad I could help!

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  55. I work at a Banana Republic Factory Store, so I happen to know exactly what J is talking about! :)
    We don't have the same stuff as the retail store, but the quality of our merchandise has gotten tremendously better within the past few months. I still wouldn't pay full price for anything, but if there are good promos I can't help but get things, especially when we have things that are so cute!  Our fall line is so versatile.  I encourage everyone who has one around to check it out.  :)

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  56. Awesome, thanks for weighing in Pearl! I just might have to make a trip to the outlets to check it out. ;-)

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  57. FYI, Gap typically has markdowns on Wednesday mornings. I work at Gap and am usually the one marking everything down at my store - so I should know!  also, they tend to transition their weekly or biweekly sale events on Thursdays.

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  58.  The BR by me does not have a Petites section but there is another one about 15 miles away and it has one. So you might have to check other malls near you.

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  59. The other secret for Banana Republic is that our sale on winter clothes is actually much better in late January then immediately after Christmas. As soon as the spring collection comes in, winter clothes receive final markdown. I work at a Banana as a cashier and have seen shirts that are originally $79.50 being sold for as little as $6.97, even if they come from the pre-Christmas shipment. The only catch is it means they are final sale. Also, if you are shopping sale and notice a lot of items in a particular size, then odds are in your favor that they will go on markdown the next week since markdowns on sale are done bi-weekly at times when there is a high volume of sales items. Also, if you find something that fits aside from length, most Banana Republic have alterations which are free for card members. 

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  60. Hi J. I've come across your fantastic blog whilst researching for a family holiday in florida (we're from the UK). I was planning on hitting the outlet malls (Premium, LBV) on a couple of days, but after reading your post was wondering if you thought it would be a better idea to hit the regular malls (Florida, Millenia .. others?) and hope there's some sales on whilst were there (Oct).

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  61. Gill, it really depends on what you are looking for. There are some great outlets like NM Last Call, Saks Off Fifth, even nearby TJ Maxx, that carry designer brands like Juicy Couture, True Religion, etc. for less. If you are looking for retail like Banana, J.Crew, Gap, H&M, etc. though - I would recommend the Florida Mall! Also see this blog post I wrote for Visit Florida about shopping in Orlando:
    http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/articles/2011/september/5591-top-5-shopping-spots-in-orlando.html

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