My Top 4 Department Stores

I am a department store SAVAGE. I prosper at clearance racks at the end of seasons. Shopping in Sarasota and other little boutique-y American towns is balls of fun, but the sales at department stores have me throwin’ that dough in slow motion as soon as I walk in the door. So until I make fistfuls of cash, I loiter at America’s biggest chains. I love each and every one differently, but some are still better than others.

  • #1: Von Maur- Von Maur is one of the few remaining, class-act, elegant department stores. They still have grand pianos in their center-of-the-store foyer with all age ranges of talented people who play them for the customers. At all times of the year they offer free gift wrapping and you know it’s luxurious when they have a “women’s lounge” and not a restroom. When my friends think they can only afford to go to “cheap” stores, I take them to Von Maur. It is THE department store to go to for quality that is as affordable as you are looking for.
    • Pros: Von Maur has excellent customer service and an alterations department at your beck and call. Some of the alterations are complimentary and others are a small fee. In high school, I got most of my homecoming dresses at Von Maur because they would sew in bra cups to them for under $15. I didn’t spend more than $60 total on any dress, including the tailoring I almost always had done.
      Their clothing is pretty medium priced- you can get slightly ritzier brand names like Adrianna Papell and Lilly Pulitzer, but there are plenty of quality designers with smaller price tags like Vince Camuto and my new favorite: Joules. Von Maur is also one of the few places where I find the lowest markdowns on clearance racks. Since they have such a good return policy, when people make returns late in the season, they put it back on the sale rack for the low-low. (For example: I got the Joules Marlston Print Hooded Sweatshirt on sale in July for $15 from $64.95 as a late return that someone made.)
      They also have a pretty wonderful, small home goods department with plenty of unique items to give as gifts- lots of Kate Spade dinnerware, cute seasonal items, and really beautiful wall art! I still can’t entirely figure out how it fits in but I like going here for weddings gifts and such.
    • Cons: Von Maur is not quite nation wide. It’s mostly just the Midwest and only stretches as far south as Alabama, southwest as Oklahoma, and one random store all the way in New York. The interior is a bit dated in some of the locations, but that effort of timeless elegance is still evident. Sometimes in store they have not been able to mail things to Florida for me, so if I am desperate I just have it sent to my parent’s in Indiana.
  • #2: Dillard’s
    • Pros: Sale. Racks. WOW. Similar to Von Maur, I get killer steals at the end of the season. This store is overall much larger in size and nearly nationwide, so there is more merchandise to go through. Summer is by far my favorite season to shop. October is the BEST time to get clearance swimwear. I typically stop weekly at a Dillard’s the end of September to October to find these deals. There are also brands at Dillard’s that I love and have never shopped elsewhere, like Giani Bini.
    • Cons: There are very few stores where I am from in Indiana so it has become a southern love of mine. It isn’t quite nationwide, but can be ordered online if you know what you want. The Dillard’s regular stores are pretty nice, but the Dillard’s clearance centers are DISGUSTING. It is mass amounts of random pieces that usually have some damage. The clearance items in regular stores are just as good so don’t feel like you are getting a better deal by going to the clearance store, you just have to time it right.
  • #3: Nordstrom (Rack) 
    • Pros: Nordstrom has phenomenal customer service. I shared a Nordstrom credit card with years for my mom and having the Nordstrom Notes come in the mail was nice! The Nordstrom makeup department is also great and that is typically the only place I shop in regular Nordstrom stores these days. Nordstrom Rack has the same great customer service with half the price tag.
    • Cons: There is a reason I am specifying the Rack. I am over Nordstrom. The Rack is a prime example of Nordstrom’s (and other high-end stores such as Saks and Neiman Marcus) high markup on name brand clothing. They want to maintain the integrity of being a high-end store, so they literally created a second branch of the SAME ITEMS where they could have the markdowns that should really make up their “anniversary” and “half-yearly” sales. If you ask me, those sales are gimmicks. The Rack is busting at the seams with Kate Spade, Tory Burch- you name it. It can be a game of digging, which is annoying, but finding a brand new Ted Baker dress for under $5 makes it all worth it (yes this happened.)
  • #4: Macy’s
    • Pros: I have found some of the most incredible deals on the “Last Act” racks.  A lot, if not all, of my Miss America appearance wardrobe came from this rack at 25% of the original cost, most of it being Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.
    • Cons: Macy’s, y’all gotta get rid of this charge card thing! That generation is done. I would rather sell my soul than open a Macy’s charge card. They desperately need to catch up with the times. Macy’s has also been kind of dated and dirty the last few times I have been in. I’m starting to get more of a JC Penny vibe than anything else these days.
    • Aaand now the mall is calling my name

GET TO THE MALL, Y’ALL

Madeline

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