Cheap can mean chintzy or substandard, but not when it comes to this list of bargain shops. While many of these stores offer cheap clothes, bargain accessories or marked-down menswear, the quality is anything but inferior. Not to be confused with vintage clothing or thrift stores, these shops are the place to score amazing new merchandise at a fraction of the cost—whether it's 65 percent off designer handbags, a plethora of affordable bow ties at a men's store or the perfect little black dress for just $30.
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Where to find cheap clothes
Akira is a young Chicago fashionista’s dream—the perfect combination of youthful trends and affordability. The footwear stores are even more enthralling than the awesome men’s and women’s clothing stores, as new, innovative designers cover table tops with spiked boots and heel-less platforms. There are usually student-friendly sales going on and tons of new stock coming in.
Akira is a young Chicago fashionista’s dream—the perfect combination of youthful trends and affordability. The Lincoln Park location carries fun women’s pieces such as chiffon tank tops with cut outs and maxi skirts with thigh-high slits. The perfect stop for picking up an outfit for a night out or an upcoming date.
This Aurora outlet mall is a major discount destination. It boasts 120 stores, including all the usual suspects–Banana Republic, J.Crew, Nike–but also high-end designers, like Kate Spade, Salvatore Ferragamo, Michael Kors, and Theory. At prices up to 65% off, it's certainly worth the trek.
This enclosed outlet mall is the closest outlet to the city and easy to get to via public transportation. The posh shopping destination features high-end designer shops such as Gucci, Prada and Tory Burch as well as typical mall staples (but outlet versions, of course) such as Gap, Forever 21 and Banana Republic. Also worth checking out: The contemporary art. Colorful pieces under esculators, hanging from the ceiling and over entrance ways are by artists such as Jen Stark and Cody Hudson and were 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 to the airport.
Fox's is the ultimate treasure hunt—one never knows what they'll find each time they set foot in the Lincoln Park store. While the shop stocks everything in the name of women's wear, it carries particularly great investment pieces–leather handbags, coats or fur. Prices will give you only the best kind of sticker shock, which offsets the dressing room experience, akin to that of a girls locker room. (No curtains or doors here!) All in all, a must-do for any bargain lover.
You'd never guess this eclectic shop is a 500-plus store chain. Every inch is packed with bright, feminine clothing, handbags and an endless array of charming gifts. Don't miss its jewelry selection, full of statement pieces—a steal, starting at $18. Hunt for decorative home decor and accessories near the back of the store, like a glitzy storage bin set ($38) or decorative wall hooks ($14).
The newest of Chicago's Nordstrom Rack locations offers a meticulously curated selection of marked-down designer goods. A well-organized layout and quality shoe section are among its most noteworthy qualities, but the cherry on top? The free 90-minute parking garage.
This women's clothing and accessories boutique is chock full of cheery, feminine styles at prices that will rarely set you back more than $50. Merch includes textured knit beanies ($6), floral rompers ($39) and Flying Monkey high-waisted skinny jeans ($49). Plus, the shop is organized according to color, making it easy to bee-line to that perfect little red dress, or find just the right shade of blue.
If you're tired of shelling out the big bucks for ties, head to The Tie Bar in Lincoln Park. The space is stocked with affordable bow ties, neck ties and skinny ties, as well as socks, pocket squares and other accessories for men at prices that won't burn a hole in your wallet.
Yes, TJ Maxx can be considered the very top of the bargain food chain, but the company's Michigan Avenue location is anything but ordinary. This immaculately organized Mag Mile outpost has an extensive "Runway" section, boasting only the cream of the crop of designer dud—on any given day you might find Diane von Furstenberg luggage, Thakoon silk tops or Celine handbags, at prices that are often 50% off.