0 In Shopping Tips

Cross the aisle for a better deal


Two gray flowy cardigans. The one on the left was still expensive even on sale. The one on the right was very inexpensive.

In the August Tips & Teasers newsletter, “Brenda & Erin’s Insider Shopping Tip” features a favorite cardigan of ours by Vince. The price is somewhere in the four hundred dollar range. It’s a black simple buttonless knit cardigan with leather sleeves. It’s such a smart looking piece and perfect for the Bay Area where I live.

I was with a client this spring and a flowy cardigan was a key piece that I wanted to find for her. She’d never had an item like that in her closet and it was going to be a perfect companion for tees and skinny jeans in the spring and summer. We were shopping at Nordstrom and I took her straight to a rack that had a fabulous cardigan in just the right color by Lafayette 148. The price tag revealed a steep number (close to that $400 Vince one I saw for fall) and for her active lifestyle with three young kids, it wouldn’t have been a smart purchase.

“I want to show this to you,” I said, “because it’s exactly the kind of thing I want to find for you. Now let’s cross the aisle into another department and see if we can find something similar for less.”

We crossed the aisle into the Narrative department and there it was–a strong lookalike in the same color with a price tag around $59. I swear these two sweaters were about twelve feet from each other. The inexpensive one was one of Nordstrom’s brands, Caslon. She purchased it.

Let me tell you about those two gray flowy cardigans in the picture above. The one on the left is an Eileen Fisher. I bought it on sale which was still on the pricey side. I loved the color so much. With my new natural hair color, it was a perfect color to bring into my wardrobe. But when I got it home and took a second look, I really wasn’t happy with the drape. I was so disappointed because I felt for sure this would be a perfect summer layering piece for me. My daughter Erin happened to be at the house when I tried it on and she agreed, it had to go back.

Now Erin is a professional bargain hunter. She has her haunts that include Goodwill, second-hand stores and consignment stores. A week hadn’t gone by before she called me up and said, “Mom, I think I found a cardigan you’d like.” And it was the one on the right. The label was gone. It was in great condition and the asymmetrical bottom edge was much more flattering on my figure than the Eileen Fisher one was. So was the price–thirty bucks.

So what’s the fashion point of this story? Don’t be afraid to fall in love with the high ticket item. It happens with myself and when I’m shopping with my clients that having that aspiration piece in mind will lead us to the one that is in the price point we’re happy with. And in big department stores, it may show up just when you cross the aisle into another department.


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