A reader from Arizona writes the Wall Street Journal to ask about Sample Sales. Are they really that good? Are they only in New York? Fashion editor Teri Agins explains that most sample sales are indeed in New York, but other big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami have their share too, and so does the internet. But then comes to sad truth, which has nothing to do with geography:
Be aware, though, that just like factory outlets, sample sales nowadays are heavily stocked with goods specifically designed to be sold as "markdowns." To differentiate these from the true designer samples, watch for outfits grouped in a wide range of sizes. True samples will have limited selection.
Translation? Real samples are made by the designer as prototypes, not as real clothes to sell. Because samples have to be made as cheaply as possible, they need to use less fabric - which means they need to be the smallest size. If you're not a Size 0 - Size 4, you won't fit into a sample size - but that doesn't mean you won't find great stuff at a sale. Our favorite sources for the best discounts? Cheryl Shops has a dizzying Monday roundup of sales. New York Magazine lets you know when there's a good deal in Manhattan. Daily Candy gives sale roundups for all of its cities. Also: you can never go wrong with a well-timed trip to TJ Maxx.