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Loads of True Samples, No Jewelry at the Elizabeth and James Sale

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The Elizabeth and James sample sale is back at 260 Fifth Avenue, and we checked out the friends and family event last night. This time around, there are a lot more actual samples—they occupy the entire left section of the room. (Last season, there were only enough samples to fill a little alcove in the back.) Prices top out at $250 (for regular items, not samples), and there's no jewelry.

There are over 20 racks (big and small) of samples, which include bottoms, vests and sweaters for $30; jackets, blazers and dresses for $50; blouses and tops for $20; and finally, leather, fur, and outerwear for $100. The sheer amount of large, cozy sweaters stands out, but note that most of them don't have the brand's label attached. Because summer is approaching, shoppers didn't seem interested in this section last night. But they were missing out! $30 is a great deal.

There seemed to be some confusion over which items were stock and which were samples at the sale preview, but it's pretty simple. Samples are marked with a red star stamp on the label. And if it's not obvious enough, some of the samples have chalk or pencil markings while others are pieced together with safety pins. (This is where we remind you to inspect the pieces carefully before purchasing.)

The best deals are actually on the non-Elizabeth-and-James-branded items which are $15. However, there aren't that many—they take up one lone rack in front of the dressing rooms. We did spot a studded black blazer with metal chains from LaRok, and a few sweaters, dresses, and tops from PJK Patterson J Kincaid.

Near the cashiers, there are racks full of pieces from Textile. Head here for cozy sweatshirts (short and long sleeve) for $40 and lots of printed tees with messages like "Happy," "Dream," and "Brave" ($25). We also spotted World Cup tees (Argentina and Italia) for $25 (retail at $95). The jeans are the main attraction in the Textile area, and you'll find nine racks of denim from the brand, all priced at $50 (down from over $200). All the jeans are organized by style and size (from 24 to 32). Sizes 26 through 28 are well-stocked, but style selection varies from size to size.

Now onto the regular overstock clothes! Prices start at $25 for crop tops and tanks, which are super useful for what seems like the hottest May ever.

Other standouts include the cocktail and summer dresses which are $100. Wide-legged pants and printed trousers are $70, office-ready blazers and vests are $100, skirts are $80, and shorts are $60. There are also a handful of hooded and floral lambskin leather jackets for $250 a pop.

Before you check out, you can browse the sunglasses and optics trays. Here, all sample sunglasses and optics (not in plastic bags) are $30 while regular stock is priced between $35 and $65. A few styles of sunglasses priced at $35: Horatio, Madison, Essex, Fenway, Centinela and Orchard.

By the cashiers, you'll find convertible bags (canvas and black) for $15 and white totes with 'Elizabeth and James' written across them for $2.

There's a dressing room in the back with the a strict 10- piece limit per person. No word on markdowns yet, but expect them to arrive near end of sale. Restocking will happen throughout, and cash and credits are accepted. —Hsini