Love a bargain? Think all Loehmann’s and DSW stores are the same? They’re not.
Those who love to shop whisper that some Loehmann’s are better for high-end shoes and handbags, while a certain T.J. Maxx is best for designer labels. In a world where you can get anything at the click of a mouse, bargain shoppers are still willing to drive for a great discount. Here’s where they’re heading:
BEST OF THE DISCOUNTERS
The Pentagon Row store (1301 S. Joyce St., Arlington; 703-412-0818) gets our vote for best in Virginia, particularly if you’re on the hunt for small sizes. In Maryland, don’t miss the Bethesda location (10400 Old Georgetown Rd.; 301-897-0360), where you’ll find a strong selection of evening shoes and the occasional designer-handbag steal.
The two downtown DC locations (529 14th St., NW, 202-638-4110; 1133 Connecticut Ave., NW, 202-872-8430) have the strongest selections among local branches. We prefer the Connecticut Avenue location for handbags and the National Press Club shop for clothing and accessories such as Pucci scarves.
The Rockville store (5230 Randolph Rd.; 301-770-0030) gets our vote as the overall best branch in the area. It has a strong mix of clothing and accessories—I’ve bought Fendi bags and seen names like Marc Jacobs and Dolce & Gabbana in its Back Room, the section devoted to designer finds. If you’re after small sizes, you may have the best luck in Friendship Heights (5333 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-362-4733), while denim lovers can get a deal in Falls Church (7271 Arlington Blvd.; 703-573-1510). Looking for a real steal? The Fairfax Clearance Center (13033 Fair Lakes Shopping Center; 703-631-1077) is where merchandise from other stores come for one last markdown.
While you can find great clothes at Marshalls—look for the Cube department, with its trendy handbags, accessories, and clothes—the best stores also boast a Shoe Mega Shop, a massive selection of name-brand footwear. The Pentagon City location (1201-D S. Hayes St., Arlington; 703-413-1668), which has a Shoe Mega Shop, has been known to carry names like Versace and Gucci, and the Tysons Corner location (8353 Leesburg Pike, Vienna; 703-556-0160) also has a Big and Tall department. At Potomac Mills (2700 Potomac Mills Cir., Woodbridge; 703-491-7050), you’ll find the holy grail—a Cube, Shoe Mega Shop, Big and Tall, and a HomeGoods all in one.
The Potomac Yard branch (3451 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Alexandria; 703-519-9420) is known for its Off the Runway department, featuring designers including Versace, Gucci, and Marc Jacobs. The Annapolis (2309 Forest Dr.; 410-573-0500) and Vienna (8389 Leesburg Pike; 703-893-2420) locations have this department as well. The Waldorf superstore (3009 Waldorf Market Pl.; 301-638-9470) is combined with a HomeGoods.
BEST STORES AT THE OUTLETS
Drop your man off at the area’s largest Bass Pro store while you browse the Neiman Marcus Last Call and Saks Off Fifth outlets. Last Call has a strong selection of shoes and formalwear, while Off Fifth is better for contemporary-department purchases. Arundel Mills Mall, 7000 Arundel Mills Cir., Hanover, Md.; 410-540-5110.
Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets
We love this outlet mall for home goods: It has Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, and Le Creuset, along with luxury fashions at Burberry, Saks Off Fifth, and Barneys, plus Under Armour for athletic types. Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets, 241 Fort Evans Rd., NE, Leesburg; 703-737-3071.
The area’s largest outlet mall has more than 200 stores, but certain outposts are better than others. You can find high-end women’s designer merchandise—at a discount, naturally—at Nordstrom Rack, Saks Off Fifth, and Neiman Marcus Last Call. Saks is especially good if you’re hunting for cashmere, Neiman’s for jewelry. Opening at Potomac Mills this summer: the area’s only Bloomingdale’s outlet. Though the Forever 21 store here isn’t an outlet, it is the area’s best—many times larger than the Pentagon City outpost. Potomac Mills Mall, 2700 Potomac Mills Cir., Woodbridge; 703-496-9301.
Prime Outlets Queenstown
You’ll have to cross the Bay Bridge, but it’s worth the trip for the area’s only Gucci, Escada, and St. John outlets, plus outposts of Coach and Kate Spade. Prime Outlets Queenstown, 441 Outlet Center Dr., Queenstown, Md.; 410-827-8699.