For: Lilly Pulitzer
Head to: SYMS
Save yourself the anxiety — the lines, the crowds — of those Lilly Pulitzer sample sales, and head to Syms, where an entire rack is now filled with all the dizzying Lilly a girl can handle, from signature pink-and-green animal-print skirts (for $50, down from $125) and floral dresses ($79, down from $170) to more mellow black shorts ($35, down from $78) and cable-knit sweaters (just $79, down from $168). 100 Swedesford Road, 610-644-2000; syms.com.
For: Workout Clothes
Head To: Nordstrom Rack And Marshalls
Where: King of Prussia
If you’re anything like us, you need all the motivation you can get to haul your heinie to the gym. So while any ol’ sports bra or mesh short from Target will, admittedly, do the job, you want all the tricked-out designer gear. That’s where Nordstrom Rack and Marshalls come in. At the former, you can find Stella McCartney-designed Adidas pants marked down from $130 to $21 and Puma jackets at half off, plus dry-wicking tops and fleece jackets for guys; at Marshalls, you’ll find Under Armour and Nike, plus an endless sea of dry-wicking socks. Nordstrom Rack, 310 Goddard Boulevard, King of Prussia, 610-205-8717, nordstrom.com; Marshalls, 160 West DeKalb Pike, King of Prussia, 610-337-2346; marshallsonline.com.
For: Designer Kids’ Clothes
Head to: Tj Maxx
Where: St. Davids
The little ones’ department here is a gem: Expect Polo by Ralph Lauren cotton pique belted dresses, Juicy Couture girls’ warm-ups, and tons of Nike, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger — all marked down as much as 80 percent. You’ll find yourself, like us, shopping for three winters from now, just to take advantage of steals like a $7 down-filled, fleece-lined official Nike/NHL hooded onesie (with separate booties) — originally $40. And you’ll find plenty (read: entire 12-foot-long racks) of classic Carter’s, Osh-Kosh and Winnie-the-Pooh-emblazoned gear, too. St. Davids Square, 550 East Lancaster Avenue, St. Davids, 610-989-9545; tjmaxx.com.
For: Designer Jeans
Head to: First Impressions
Where: Lafayette Hill
If you’re not a regular, you might be intimidated by the racks of clothes converging on you. But just ask a staffer how to get upstairs — through the unmarked door in the back that looks like the entry to a supply closet — and take a deep breath. You’ve made it: Against the wall in the back room are designer jeans (Seven, Marlow, David Kahn and more) marked way down. To figure out just how much off your new baby blues are, check the posted sale chart: Items originally priced up to $89 are $25; $90 to $189 are $50; and $190 and up are $75 — which makes those $230 True Religions you’ve been eyeing an affordable $75. Yes! 470 Germantown Pike, 610-828-6775; shopfirstimpressions.com.
For: Men’s Pants
Head to: Last Call, Neiman Marcus Outlet
Where: The Northeast
We realize it’s sexist, but, sorry — men just don’t look as sexy/cute/sophisticated as the ladies do in denim. So stick with pants — flat-front ones, in a thick cotton or textured wool — and start combing the racks at Last Call for the best of Paul Smith ($106, marked down from $265) and Armani Collezioni ($130, marked down from $325). 1634 Franklin Mills Circle, 215-637-5900; franklinmills.com.
Head to: The State Of Delaware (Seriously)
If you keep using your kid’s student ID to buy yourself new Mac gear, eventually you’re going to get caught, you know. Instead, make like the tech gurus we know and hook up at the Apple store in the Christiana Mall (308 Christiana Mall, space 1547, Newark, 302-292-3201; thechristianamall.com). Then stop by Costco (900 Center Boulevard, Newark, 302-894-0979; costco.com) for a great deal on a flat-screen TV (made even greater by, again, the lack of tax), and Circuit City (700 Center Boulevard, Newark, 302-738-7003; circuitcity.com) for your digital camera. If you crunch the numbers (as we, dorkily, have), you’ll see it’s worth the price of gas and the stress of I-95.