Why I Love Outlets, and You Should Too

For many years, I have been harboring a dark, dirty secret. I love outlets. I’ve always kept it quiet, feeling ashamed as I plotted out trips to outlet malls and shopping on outlet websites, but now, I’m coming clean. I’m an outlet addict, and I don’t care who knows it. There is truly nothing I adore more than getting a great deal on designer goods. It has become a sport for me.

To understand the root cause of my obsession, I should also admit that I am a shopaholic in the deepest sense of the word. For as long as I can remember, I have had to feed my shopping demon any way I can. It’s a barely manageable monster that I have to control with frequent purchases. Gross? Maybe. But am I alone? I don’t think so. Obviously, this is an expensive habit to have, and since I was unfortunately not one of the original investors in Uber, I needed to find a way to shop smarter. Once I began to explore the outlet world, I was hooked, and there are several reasons why.

Firstly, outlet malls are better than ever. If you haven’t been to an outlet mall recently, you probably imagine a dingy strip of sad-looking stores selling random product from years ago. This is a total misconception. Most of the time outlet malls are just as nice if not nicer than real malls. The outlets just outside of Palm Springs, for example, are a gorgeous collection of designer stores (Gucci, Saint Laurent, Prada, Rag & Bone, Valentino . . . any of this striking your interest?) set against a stunning backdrop. There are fountains and restaurants, and best of all, the stores feel like the real deal. No dingy outposts to be found. If I blindfolded you and took you into the Prada outlet, you would have an extremely difficult time noticing it was an outlet at all. The interior is exactly the same, the associates are just as helpful and knowledgable — and yes, you even get the same big shiny Prada packaging and shopping bag as you would in the full-priced store. As a shopaholic, I understand the sanctity of the experience of buying yourself a new big item, like a bag, but I can assure you the experience is just as special. Even sweeter, actually, because you got your new bag for 50 percent off.

Secondly, the market has shifted. Smart brands have realized that people have come to expect getting a deal. Whereas before you had to visit a brick-and-mortar outlet to get your discount fix, now there are online options: J.Crew Factory Store has its own site, Neiman Marcus Last Call is online, and of course my personal favorite, TheOutnet.com, sister site of Net-a-Porter, is just a click away. The Outnet is beautifully curated and has a great interface on top of having insane deals on some of my favorite brands. I got a stunning Erdem dress for a wedding at 60 percent off. Best of all, it was still in stores for full price.

Think about it: when was the last time you bought something full price and felt good about it? Even full-price brands and websites are having to promote like crazy to move through product. Shopbop goes 25 percent off basically every other week now, so why wouldn’t you just wait? Outlets simply facilitate smart shopping.

Finally, everybody does it — even if they don’t talk about it. The days of outlet malls catering only to hoards of tacky tourists are gone. The last time I went to the Palm Springs outlets, they were filled with glamorous women who had driven down from LA, cramming their trunks full with Gucci. The associates told me they even get celebrities in from time to time. It’s human nature to enjoy getting a good deal so — don’t fight the urge!

If you haven’t explored outlets and discounted sites before, now is the time. I highly encourage everyone, but especially my fellow shopping maniacs, to get with the program. Check your pride at the door and get shopping, before someone else swoops up the Rockstud bag (at 60 percent off) you’ve been lusting after!