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Above the Fray: Steven Alan, Dream Department Store

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You know that dream where you're in a department store that only carries things you really want, and you keep finding mysterious new passageways leading to yet more rooms with yet more racks of wondrous merchandise? (No? Just us?) Because that's basically the bi-annual Steven Alan sample sale. It's big, it's stuffed with clothes from a variety of different but equally awesome brands, and its prices are utterly reasonable. Of course, quality varies from year to year—this time around we thought the selection was ever-so-slightly less dramatically wide than it's been in the past. But if you go, you're going to leave happy.

As of 9:30 this morning, there hadn't been huge changes from the menswear and womenswear reports from last night. The sample sale rack, which used to be full of Acne, is pretty much depleted, and the Baha shirts we saw on our way in were almost gone by the time we tried to exit.

About the exit: The store is divided into two floors, with Steven Alan's own line on the ground floor and everyone else in the basement. Merchandise from one floor isn't allowed on the other, so you have to buy and check anything you want from Steven Alan before you begin to investigate the downstairs racks. There are two separate lines to purchase and to check packages, and the latter is also fed by a constant stream of shoppers from the outside trying to ditch their coats and shoppers from the inside trying to retrieve their belongings. As such, getting out of the store is tough—allot yourself half an hour or so for line-waiting, and prepare to be jostled.

A few other final tips: Ladies, don't go looking for shoes, unless you're the sort of delayed-gratification type who buys sandals in November. Do, however, spend some quality time with the bag section. Soft leather satchels from Gryson and other brands generally run from $75 to $150; we watched one lucky woman unearth a $25 clutch. Lastly, this is a sale that amply rewards an early arrival. There are no dressing rooms, but if you're one of the first people in, you can grab an armful of shirts and stake out the mirrors in back.
· Above the Fray: Womenswear Overload at Steven Alan [Racked]
· Above the Fray: Steven Alan Outfits Men [Racked]
· Lineblogging: Gender Equality at Steven Alan Sale [Racked]