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The J.Crew Sample Sale: Worth a Trip or Two

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By the time the J.Crew and Madewell sale opened this morning, the line outside ran all the way down Fifth Avenue and wrapped around the corner of 28th Street. All the buzz and excitement was for good reason, because once inside and past the coat check, there was lots to pull from the racks. We found goods to take home for ourselves, as well as things that are going to make excellent gifts for the holidays.

The sale is housed in a large room with J. Crew items in front, Madewell items toward the middle, and a small section of children's clothing and women's accessories in the back. There is also a communal changing area, though there are no curtains or doors. Also, every item is tagged with its individual price, so there's no guesswork or chasing down employees to get the cost of an item. The racks were not organized in any specific fashion, but instead divided up into categories of Women, Men, Madewell, and Accessories, with like items grouped together. We found pieces from Holiday '10, Fall '10, Summer '11 and even some from Fall '11. Some pieces on the racks are currently on sale online for their full retail value.

In the J. Crew women's section, we noticed a few racks full of J. Crew collection items. A printed silk blouse was $90 and a textured blazer went for $225. There were a few leather jackets in the mix, plus a rare find: a Mongolian lamb fur sleeve coat.

Cashmere sweaters are all priced at $90, and cotton or wool sweaters are $35, or about 50% off retail prices. Men's prices are identical to the women's, and there were many cute striped sweaters and cardigans for men as well. Jackets ranged from $60 to $150, with casual jackets and vests starting at $60, suits and blazers for $130, and wool coats for $150.

Wool and dress pants were priced at $70, denim at $45, and chinos and cords at $25. To pair with bottoms, silk and woven shirts were $25, and tees, tanks, and polos were $15.

We pressed on to the Madewell section and found that the pricing was the same as the J. Crew items. Skirts and shorts ranged from $20 to $35, and dresses from $30 to $90. We found a Madewell textured leather jacket for $225 and a southwestern printed poncho for $60.

In the accessories section, we found belts and scarves in a rainbow of colors, all priced at $15. Leather bags ranged from $80 to $120, and shoes from $60 to $120. There was a pair of fringed booties that caught our eye for $100, and a mustard colored pair of suede flats with zipper detail for $65. The sizes represented for women were 5 to 11, but there are also some real finds for little feet: In the children's shoes section, we saw leopard print pony hair booties for $50.

The bottom line: Prices aren't rock-bottom, but the selection is enormous, the items for sale are from this season or just a few seasons past, and at the very least you can always stock up on $15 tees. The staff will "constantly be restocking" (their words!), and someone running the sale whispered to us that they had a plentiful back stock for replenishing the floor. Since the sale goes until Saturday, it might be advisable to visit it more than once just in case you might have missed something. Just be warned: This is going to be a very popular attraction all week long. There was still a line outside when we left.—Apneet Kaur
· Dealfeed: J.Crew, Madewell [Racked NY]
· The J.Crew Sample Sale Already Has a Line Up 28th Street [Racked NY]
· Four Pieces to Buy at Tomorrow's J.Crew Sample Sale [Racked NY]

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