Value-conscious customers of Ann Taylor retail stores will find some of the same popular styles at discounted prices at LOFT Outlets and Ann Taylor Factory stores. Shoppers can expect to find past seasons' merchandise and "affordable luxury" products manufactured specifically for the factory outlet stores.
LOFT Outlets carry a more youthful look and more casual styles, while the Ann Taylor Factory stores cater more to professionals. Both divisions sell suits, separates, dresses, shoes, and accessories designed for professional women. Also, there usually is a nice selection of petite sizes at both stores.
The difference between Ann Taylor retail store merchandise and the outlet merchandise is pretty hard to spot for the casual Ann Taylor shopper. However, for die-hard Ann Taylor shoppers, the difference in quality is anything but subtle.
Cutting Back on the Detailing
One area where Ann Taylor cuts corners with its outlet merchandise is on the detailing. For example, in the retail stores, a blouse featuring pleats in the front might have 10 tight pleats, unlike the cheaper outlet version designed in similar styling but with just five (not so tight) pleats. A sweater in the retail stores will stand out because of the detailing in the beautiful quality buttons, and a similar sweater in the outlet stores might have plastic buttons.
Since much of the merchandise at the outlet store is made for that particular store, outlet shoppers can pretty much ignore the retail price displayed on the tickets. Unless the merchandise is from a previous season, there is no such thing as the retail price since merchandise made for the outlets would never show up in the retail stores.
Ann Taylor is up front about its products and does not hide the fact it sells made-for-outlet merchandise. And it does a pretty good job with the clothing. Some of the styles look great, even if they are somewhat lacking in quality. For anyone struggling with their budget to look good at work, LOFT Outlet and Ann Taylor Factory stores are worth checking out. Just make sure to carefully check the seams and the zippers before you buy to ensure that the clothing is in good shape.
Wait for Percentage-Off Sales
Throughout the year, Ann Taylor Factory and LOFT Outlet stores offer 30-50 percent off the entire store and even up to 70 percent off clearance merchandise. To find out about the promotions, go to the outlet mall's website and look for links to sales or search the store name to see the current promotions.
Richard Liebeskind opened the first Ann Taylor shop in 1954, targeting well-dressed women. Within 30 years, it had expanded to 47 stores across the United States. Today, Ascena Retail Group is the parent company of both the Ann Taylor and LOFT brands.
There are more than 160 LOFT Outlet stores in the United States, in addition to more than 500 regular LOFT stores in North America. Ann Taylor has 180 stores in the United States and more than 120 Ann Taylor Factory stores.