Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista’s Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC
Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Sample Sales - Score Designer Finds at a Fraction of Retail
If you love designer fashion but don't love paying full price, sample sales are made for you. At these short-term events, brands liquidate past season merchandise, samples, overstock, and slightly damaged goods at deep discounts. We're talking 50-80% off retail prices.
The deals at sample sales can be incredible if you know where and when to shop. In NYC, sample sales take place year-round, with heavier concentration in the spring and fall around Fashion Week. The best sales sell out fast and many operate with just a few days' notice, so you need inside intel. Sign up for newsletters, follow sample sale companies on social media, and keep an eye out for ads at train stations and on street posts.
Once you score an invite, arrive early and prepare to navigate crowds and long lines. Bring your own bag to carry purchases and cash for smaller designers that don't accept cards. Be ready to dig, as the best merchandise goes quickly. Try things on, as all sales are final. Know your measurements and sizes across brands as sizing is inconsistent.
Some notable sample sales to frequent include Bloomingdale's, Saks OFF 5TH, Century 21, and private sample sale companies like 260 Samples, Clothingline, and Red Carpet Boutique. You can often score contemporary brands like Theory, Vince, and Joie for $100 or less compared to $300+ at retail. For high-end designers, prices may be $200-500 versus $1000+ at regular stores.
If you can't make the in-person sales, many brands now host online sample sales too. Sites like 260 Samples, Rue La La, Gilt, and Shopbop offer limited time sales on an exclusive basis to members. Discounts aren't as steep as in-person, but you can shop from home in your PJs.
Pro tip: if you see something you love, grab it. The most coveted sizes and styles disappear instantly. Don't expect to return later or find a certain size or color hanging around. Popular items like leather jackets, designer denim, and cashmere sweaters go in a blink.
What else is in this post?
- Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Sample Sales - Score Designer Finds at a Fraction of Retail
- Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Outlet Malls Near NYC - Shop Luxury Brands on a Budget
- Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Department Store Sales - Never Pay Full Price at the Big Names
- Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Shopping Apps - Get Exclusive Promos and Cash Back
- Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Sample Sales Online - Score Serious Savings Without Leaving Home
- Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Thrift and Vintage - Treasure Hunt for One-of-a-Kind Finds
- Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Negotiate at Street Markets - Haggle Your Way to Bargains
- Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Shop Local Boutiques - Find Hidden Gems Off the Beaten Path
Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Outlet Malls Near NYC - Shop Luxury Brands on a Budget
For fashion-forward shoppers on a budget, outlet malls are a treasure trove of luxury brands at discounted prices. Luckily, there are several excellent outlet centers located just outside New York City that are easily accessible for a day trip. These malls are packed with our favorite high-end retailers offering savings of 25-65% off regular retail prices.
One of the most popular outlet malls near NYC is Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, located about 60 minutes north of Manhattan in Central Valley, NY. This massive complex contains 220 stores including Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Nike, Adidas, Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, Kate Spade, Levi’s, Michael Kors, Prada, Tory Burch and more. Shoppers report regularly finding deals like designer handbags for 40-60% off, denim for 50% off, and shoes/sneakers for 30-40% off. The center even offers a complimentary shuttle bus from Port Authority, making it easy for visitors without a car.
Another top outlet mall is Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, NJ, located just a 20 minute train ride from Manhattan. With over 200 stores, shoppers love it for robust savings on brands like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC, Gap, Old Navy and designer names like Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade and more. One visitor scored a $278 Calvin Klein wool coat for just $80. While the brands themselves aren't always the most cutting edge, it's hard to argue with rock bottom prices on classic wardrobe staples.
For a more luxe and serene experience, The Shops at Nanuet in Nanuet, NY is a prime spot located 45 minutes north of the city. Its 50 stores include Saks OFF 5TH, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Nordstrom Rack, Bloomingdale's Outlet and designer shops like Tory Burch, Coach, Ralph Lauren, Vince Camuto and others. The open-air setting has more breathing room than typical crowded outlet malls. One reviewer discovered a $1,000+ RL pantsuit for just $99 here.
While it requires a longer trek of 90 minutes from Manhattan, Woodbury Common and Jersey Gardens are still closer than the popular Wrentham Village Premium Outlets located outside of Boston. For a quick outlet fix without leaving the five boroughs, check out Century 21 downtown where you can often uncover heavily reduced designers, contemporary brands, and accessories.
Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Department Store Sales - Never Pay Full Price at the Big Names
For fashionistas who love browsing the legendary department stores of New York City, sale season is the most wonderful time of the year. While department store regular prices are notoriously high, their seasonal sales can translate to truly unbeatable deals. We’re talking savings of 25-75% off on designer and contemporary fashion, handbags, shoes, makeup, and more.
The big flagship stores like Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, and Macy’s all host biannual sales in winter and summer. While each sale has its own vibe, the discounts are uniformly deep. Whether you prefer chic designer duds from Saks or quirky contemporary picks at Bloomingdale's, with some dedication you can overhaul your entire wardrobe for a fraction of regular prices.
The strategy is to preview sale items online and watch for early access days for the store’s best customers. Set notifications so you’re the first to know when the sales start. Study sale previews to make a wishlist of your must-have items and sizes. While supplies are decent online, selection is always best at the flagship locations.
Be ready to arrive when doors open on the first day of sales. Have your wishlist handy and a game plan of which floors to target first. Bring an extra empty suitcase or tote bag to haul your finds. Be prepared for long checkout lines and missing sizes—it’s first come, first served.
While department stores offer designer goods year-round, sale periods are the only times shoppers have access to new season stock at steep discounts. For example, during Saks’ winter Designer sale, shoppers might find a $1,000 pair of Manolo Blahnik heels for $250 or a $2,000 Saint Laurent handbag for $800. Bloomingdale’s Little Brown Bag sale is famous for slashing designer denim to $50 (from $300+) and contemporary dresses to $25 (from $150+).
Savvy sale shoppers recommend sticking to basements and lower levels for maximal discounts, as early floors tend to have smaller percent-off deals. They also advise calling ahead to place holds on items you fear may sell out. If something already looks picked over, don’t despair—stores tend to replenish popular sizes overnight.
Beyond clothing, accessories, and shoes, department store sales are also prime times to stock up on beauty. Cosmetic counters offer deep discounts on skin care, makeup, hair styling tools, and fragrances. For example, the Saks Beauty Sale might discount a $100 face cream to $50 or a $250 hair dryer to $125. Macy’s is renowned for their epic Black Friday beauty blowouts.
Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Shopping Apps - Get Exclusive Promos and Cash Back
In the digital age, savvy shoppers know that shopping apps are clutch for accessing unbeatable deals and exclusive promos on the go. Apps like Rakuten give you cash back for purchases at hundreds of stores while others like Shopkick reward you just for walking into brick-and-mortar locations. Forget browsing paper sale ads—download these apps once and watch the savings stack up automatically as you shop.
Rakuten, formerly called Ebates, gives users cash back for online purchases at over 2,500 top retailers. Unlike random coupon codes you have to hunt for, Rakuten provides guaranteed cash back at your favorite stores like Nike, Macy's, Sephora, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Typical offers range from 4-10% back, with some as high as 20%. The app tracks your purchases and cash back accrues in your Rakuten account. You can request a check or electronic payout each quarter. One devoted Rakuten user reports getting $600+ back per year on her regular shopping by running all purchases through the app.
Shopkick takes a unique approach by rewarding you for just visiting stores in person, no purchase required. Earn "kicks" for walking into partners like Macy's, Kohl's, and Best Buy that can later be redeemed for gift cards. Link your credit cards to earn additional kicks on purchases. Users praise Shopkick as an easy passive way to get up to $2-5 back on shopping trips without changing habits. Those who actively engage with the app by scanning specific products report earning much more.
Get ready to become obsessed with receipt scanning apps like Fetch Rewards, which gives you points for every receipt that can be exchanged for gift cards. Receipts can be from any store, restaurant, or airline. One Fetch user reports amassing $3-5K points monthly just scanning grocery, pharmacy, and gas station receipts. Even your coffee shop receipts add up. Points can be redeemed for gift cards from hundreds of retailers.
There are also tons of store-specific apps that offer exclusive promos and personalized deals. For example, the Starbucks app gives free treats for points on purchases while the Sephora app applies instant discounts only available to app users. Download apps from your most frequented stores to unlock savings. Combining store apps with cash back apps like Rakuten multiplies the savings.
Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Sample Sales Online - Score Serious Savings Without Leaving Home
Can’t make it to the in-person sample sales? No worries, many brands now host online sample sales too so fashionistas can score those sweet, sweet discounts from the comfort of their couch. Sites like 260 Samples, Rue La La, Gilt, and Shopbop offer limited-time sales on an exclusive basis to members.
While discounts aren’t usually as deep as the legendary in-person warehouse sales, we’re still talking solid savings of 50-70% off retail. These sites offer especially excellent deals on contemporary and premium designer fashion that’s rarely discounted at department stores. Forget paying $300 for a Vince blouse or $500 for Rag & Bone jeans at Saks - online sample sales let you snag similar pieces for $100-$150 instead.
The key is that to access these exclusive deals, you must be a member of the site. While sometimes annoying, signing up is free and just takes entering your email. Once registered, you can browse upcoming sales calendars to plan which events to shop. Set notifications so you never miss that 60% off Ted Baker London sale that’s only live for 24 hours.
Then when your favorite brands pop up, act fast! The best stuff goes quick. Checkout faster by entering your details beforehand like credit card info and shipping address. Pro shoppers recommend having multiple tabs open to nab pieces in different sizes/colors to nail down the perfect fit. Keep your desired budget in mind and resist temptation to overspend in the thrill of the sale moment.
While sizing varies by brand, reviews advise ordering your regular size but one size up or down too, since you can’t try things on. Expect models to be professional pics only, not on real people. Be sure to check fabric content so you know what you’re getting; some items may be final sale while others allow returns/exchanges.
Users praise sites like 260 Samples and Rue La La for scoring previous season contemporary brands like Theory, Rag & Bone, and Joie for 50-70% off retail. One scored a $350 retail Theory blouse for $89. High-end designer finds pop up too but less often, like dresses and tops from Diane von Furstenberg and Rebecca Taylor discounted 60-70% off $400+ retail prices.
Gilt and Shopbop also offer deep discounts on contemporary and premium designers, especially women’s apparel, handbags, and shoes. One Gilt user snagged a $990 McQueen handbag for $280. Activewear lovers report scoring premium brands like Splits59, Varley, and Beyond Yoga for 50% off on Shopbop. Reviews praise lightning fast shipping with items arriving “nicely packaged.”
While savvy shoppers love the thrill of discovering deals on these sites, many warn the selection is not as vast as in-person sales. The most coveted sizes and styles go quickest. So you need to grab your favorites on first release rather than wait and risk it selling out. While the original markdowns are best, returning for second and third cuts yields new gems at even lower prices.
Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Thrift and Vintage - Treasure Hunt for One-of-a-Kind Finds
For bargain hunters and sustainable fashion advocates alike, thrifting and vintage shopping in New York City is a rite of passage. Beyond just scoring deals, the thrill is never knowing what unique, one-of-a-kind pieces you might discover after an afternoon digging through the racks.
The sheer volume and variety of thrift stores in NYC means every shopping trip can be a fruitful treasure hunt. Thrifting enthusiast Amy recommends starting at larger stores like the Salvation Army on W 46th St or Goodwill locations, where you can browse quickly through thousands of garments. Beyond everyday staples, she’s unearthed designer gowns, vintage band tees, and perfectly fitted Levi’s here for $5 or less. “I get a rush rummaging through the aisles wondering what gem I’ll spot next,” Amy says.
For curated vintage, Meta in Bushwick and Amarcord in Williamsburg offer racks upon racks of unique finds. Amarcord employee Louis says visitors love uncovering unique designer pieces, custom jewelry, and one-of-a-kind rock tees carefully sourced from around the world. While pricier than thrift stores, their impressive collections deliver that shot of novelty you won’t find at mainstream retailers.
Hardcore thrifters advise looking beyond Manhattan for less picked-over stores. Miriam praises the massive Goodwill Outlet in Long Island City where you pay for clothing by the pound rather than by piece. She once scored a vintage Escada dress here that likely retailed for $2000+ back in the day. Other outer borough spots like L Train Vintage and Quincy Rose Vintage in Brooklyn give you more room to dig.
Vintage shopper Erin warns that while resale condition varies, examining garments closely pays off. She spends time inspecting for stains, holes, and fabric damage. Try garments on, as older sizes fit differently. Erin recommends bringing items to a tailor right away for adjustments that maximize style and fit.
Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Negotiate at Street Markets - Haggle Your Way to Bargains
Beyond thrift stores, another way to unlock unbeatable deals in NYC is by flexing your haggling muscles at the city’s vibrant street markets. These open-air bazaars offer everything from handcrafted jewelry to vintage clothing at negotiable prices if you come prepared to bargain.
Century 21 superfan Wendy makes GreenFlea Market in Columbus Circle her Sunday morning ritual. She says haggling is expected here, unlike regular retail stores. “I start absurdly low, like 10% of the asking price, then let the stall owner counteroffer until we land on a deal we both feel good about,” she explains. Last week she snagged a $100 pair of vintage Levi’s for just $25 after cheerful negotiation.
Over in SoHo, the Canal Street Market is a prime spot to practice your haggling chops. Stall owners anticipate tourists may be timid to bargain, so asking “What’s your best price?” often results in automatic discounts. One shopper even scored a knockoff Longchamp tote for 60% off with light negotiation. She recommends bringing cash and skepticism about authenticity.
For curated vintage, Artists & Fleas in Williamsburg and Brooklyn Flea in DUMBO are ideal venues to bargain for deals. While not as intense as a Turkish bazaar, vendor Caesar says he enjoys “the gentle dance” of negotiating prices 20-30% lower than tagged. He recommends starting with, “Would you take $X?” rather than demanding a lower price. Caesar advises aiming for 30% off higher quality items versus 50% off already cheap finds.
No matter where you shop, successful haggling requires a friendly, respectful approach. Walk away rather than argue if a seller won’t budge. Quincy Rose Vintage owner Lauren says she’s open to reasonable offers but not haggling for sport. “I price fairly based on condition, style, and brand. I know what a particular 90s Armani suitcoat is worth,” she states. Lauren suggests tying offers to specifics like repairs needed.
Thrifting pro Dakota recommends not taking initial “no” responses personally. She’s scored 50% off coats at Goodwill by politely asking cashiers if they have flexibility on big-ticket items. However, she cautions haggling on small items under $5 looks petty. Pick your battles wisely.
Shop Till You Drop: A Fashionista's Guide to Scoring The Best Deals in NYC - Shop Local Boutiques - Find Hidden Gems Off the Beaten Path
Beyond the mainstream department stores and national chains, New York City is brimming with independent boutiques waiting to be discovered. These hidden gem shops are curated by their passionate owners and offer one-of-a-kind finds you simply won’t see elsewhere. Supporting local boutiques keeps money in the community and rewards intrepid shoppers with access to limited edition and emerging designer pieces before they hit the mainstream.
For boutique owner Amanda, selecting pieces that express her aesthetic is the joy of running a small business. “I look for the clothes and accessories that speak to me and my sensibilities. Things that are unusual, quirky, outside the norm,” she says. This freedom results in racks filled with hard-to-find brands and statement pieces you’d never stumble upon at larger stores catering to the masses. Amanda’s customers appreciate the thrill of uncovering distinctive items like an electric blue suit from Nigeria or earrings made by local NYC artisans.
To find these under-the-radar shops, boutique hunter Keisha suggests wandering charming neighborhoods like the West Village and Nolita where independently owned stores cluster together. “I just go in anywhere that catches my eye. That’s how I’ve discovered some of my favorite shops,” she says. Asking shopkeepers and fellow fashionistas for recommendations helps uncover holes-in-the-wall establishments too.
Keisha’s explorations have revealed designers from far-flung locales that she’d never find back home. Tiny storefront Maverick in Tribeca sources minimalist designs directly from Ukrainian artisans who hand-dye silks into rich jewel tones. Over in Chinatown, Suzette’s tiny nook stocks flirty Filipino sundresses and food-themed purses light years away from the polish of Fifth Avenue’s big names.
While prices may run higher than chain retailers, customer Victorine finds the craftsmanship and exclusivity worthwhile. At obscure Brooklyn boutique By Smith, she retrieved a buttery leather jacket with hand-painted art deco details that elicit nonstop compliments. “It was an investment piece, but I won’t see anyone else wearing it because they don’t produce many. That makes it extra special,” she says.
Small store size also encourages personalized service. No feeling lost in a maze of aisles here. Employees at Nolita vintage boutique La Vecchia pay meticulous attention to Victorine’s style and will actually call her when coveted items matching her taste arrive in stock. “It makes me feel so taken care of compared to big stores where you're ignored,” she says.