If you're still paying full price for designer trends in furniture, clothing and accessories, stop it. Sure, you already know to shop at thrift stores, but what about when you want the latest and greatest? Outlet stores are your best bet for discounts on high-end, luxury items. Some of our favorites are in Chicago, but others will require a short road trip. Work the shopping stop into a weekend getaway, perhaps?
Outlet stores near Chicago
Chicago has several great Nordstrom Rack locations, but this newer outpost on Sheffield Avenue in Lincoln Park offers a well-curated selection of marked-down designer goods. The organized layout and quality shoe section make for a pleasant shopping experience, but the best perk has to be the free, 90-minute parking garage. Get down to business before your meter runs out.
If you're searching for basic tees or a great pair of inexpensive jeans, there are few better places to do so than Logan Square's Gap Outlet. If you don't mind digging through mountains of sweaters and piles of khaki pants, you're sure to find whatever you're hunting for (and then some). The ever-rotating selection has options for men, women and kiddos.
This Aurora outlet mall is a dynamite discount destination. It boasts 120 stores, including all the usual suspects—Banana Republic, J.Crew, Nike—plus high-end designers like Kate Spade, Salvatore Ferragamo, Michael Kors and Theory. At prices up to 65 percent off, it's certainly worth the hour drive west.
This massive indoor outlet mall is fairly close to the city and easily accessible via public transportation. The posh shopping destination features designers like Gucci, Prada and Tory Burch as well as outlet versions of typical mall staples such as Gap, Forever 21 and Banana Republic. There's also tons of contemporary art. Yep—you'll find colorful masterpieces under escalators, hanging from the ceiling and slung over entranceways. The work—by artists like Jen Stark and Cody Hudson—was curated by Miami-based Arts Initiative. And since the mall is so close to O'Hare, shoppers can check their bags and have them sent straight to the airport. It's almost too easy.
Love Urban Outfitters but hate the sticker shock? This Lincoln Park shop is a haven for bargain hunters with racks on racks of $5 shirts, $10 pants, half-price shoes, dollar accessories and tons of trinkets. Be patient and come prepared to dig. You'll be rewarded with unreal deals.
TJ Maxx's Michigan Avenue location is anything but ordinary. This organized Mag Mile depot has an extensive "Runway" section, boasting only cream of the crop designer duds—on any given day you might find Diane von Furstenberg luggage, Thakoon silk tops or Celine handbags, at prices that are often 50 percent off. Lines tend to be long, so make sure you scope out the wait before searching for another pair of shoes.
This 15,000-square-foot studio boasts deals from designers like Michael Kors, Burberry, Vince Camuto, Helmut Lang and many more at prices ranging from 30 to 60 percent off. The best part? The store purchases timely, in-season items directly from designers, so you can stay on top of the latest trends for less.
If you're upgrading from Ikea but still can't afford West Elm, the Crate and Barrel Outlet is a great place to land. The warehouse-like space in Naperville is packed with furniture, home accessories, decor, lighting, dinnerware, linens and more—all at deeply discounted prices. Note: Gift registry items and services are not available at this location.