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Monday, May 19, 2014

The 5 Dresses (or how I saved lots of money at Lands End)

It's no secret that I love Lands End clothing.  I've been shopping their catalog since the 1980's, been with them through all of their ups and downs.  I love their classic/basic styles, the quality is generally very good (I have purchased a clunker or two but not enough to make me quit shopping) and they run awesome sales.  In this post I'm going to explain to you several ways you can save big at Lands End.

The selection of dresses in my closet had become kind of blah and there weren't very many.  There were a couple of factors that had caused this.  The office I used to work in required us to wear hose at all times.  I don't know about you, but in the heat of summer, I'll be darned if I feel like putting on panty hose.  In order to get around the policy and still be comfortable, I ended up buying a lot of really long dresses that I could wear knee highs with.  While they are pretty, they aren't always practical when working in an office, I ruined several skirts and dresses by running them over with my office chair.  It finally just got to the point where I didn't care anymore and I quit buying dresses and just wore pants every day.  Boring.  Two of the four dresses in my closet were thrift store finds and the other two had been in there at least 6 years.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it was time for something new.  And now that I'm not working, hose are a thing of the past, no more long dresses!

Earlier this year I was on the Lands End website purchasing some things when I came across a cute dress on clearance.  I ran the calculations and by the time I got all the discounts, it was $8.  I figured what the heck, I would give it a try, if nothing else I could wear it as a nightgown!  It came and I really liked it, so I scored this $50 dress for $8.

Then I found out that the daughter of a good friend would be getting married at the end of May.  I really didn't have anything dressy enough for a wedding, so back to the Lands End website!  They were running a 30% off sale, so I ended up getting this $89 dress for just over $62.  I can't wait to wear it at the end of the month!

While I was looking at potential dresses to wear to the wedding, I came across another one that I really liked, I was really torn.  I kind of put it in the back of my mind.  A couple of weeks later I was in ordering a pair of pants for my husband and thought I might as well give it a try (especially since my dress collection was so lacking!).  I got this $79 dress for $35, it had been reduced and they were offering another 30% off.  I wore it this past weekend while I photographed a wedding and it was incredibly comfortable, I was very glad I purchased it.

The last two I purchased just before we went on vacation.  The brown polka dot is the same exact dress as the floral I bought for the wedding but drastically reduced because it is the wrong color in the wrong season.  The pink polo dress was hugely reduced because it was last years style--I didn't care, I liked it!  I ordered them both and I am so happy with both of them.  The polka dot dress was originally $89, I got it for $25 and the polo dress was $49 originally, I got it for $10.  Both worth the price.

So let's do the math--the original price that I would have paid for these dresses was $356.  I paid $140!  How did I do it?

The first thing you need to do is go in and sign up to receive the Lands End emails.  These will alert you to any discounts they are offering.  They frequently offer discounts ranging from 25% off to 40% off.  Sometimes the discounts will only be on specific categories--for example the last two dresses that I purchased were a 30% off dress sale, the floral and the red dress a 30% off everything sale(and the red one had been reduced in between as well!).  Sometimes it can be pants, home goods, outerwear--it changes at least once a week.  Sometimes it's restricted to only full price items, other times it can include everything and anything, be sure to read the fine print.  The best sales are usually during the Christmas shopping season, I've gotten some truly incredible deals on things at that time of year. 

Their website has different sections, be sure to check out the regular section AND the sale section.  Sometimes items will show up in both sections, sometimes they don't, it just depends on what the sale items are.  In the sale section, there are two unique sections where you can score some MAJOR deals--the first is called NQP which stands for Not Quite Perfect.  These are items that have minor flaws, so they don't want to sell them at full price.  I've bought a couple of things this way and to be honest, I couldn't figure out what was wrong, that was how minor the imperfections were.  I most recently scored a pair of shorts in this section that normally were $25 for $10. 

The other section where you can find some terrific bargains is "On The Counter".  Every Saturday they list approximately 100 items in this section.  They are items that they have very limited quantities and not full size ranges of, sometimes they are from previous seasons.  On Saturday they start out at one price, then on Monday, Wednesday and Friday they reduce what is left further.  It's kind of a gamble to wait it out, but if you can hold out until Friday, you could get a fantastic deal.  That is how I managed to get the dress for $8 and the one for $10.  The best part is if they are running a storewide sale (ie. 30% off everything) it also applies to these items as well, saving you even more money.  The $10 dress was actually $14.50 when I ordered but they were running 30% off select dresses and it was included!  A couple of months ago I got a very expensive all wool Fair Isle sweater for $13 in this section.  You just have to keep checking it out, some weeks I see nothing that I like, other weeks I might see several items with potential.  It's become part of my Saturday morning ritual over coffee.

Another way to save is on shipping--they offer free shipping on all orders over $50.  There have been times that I've been really close but not quite, but I ALWAYS make it by finding something.  Put it this way--if your order is $46 you are going to spend $8 on shipping.  Why not spend that $8 on a t-shirt, a pair of gloves--think about gifts you can use, something!  Because they have such a huge variety of things for sale, it isn't hard to find something to make that $50. 

Worried about sending it back if it doesn't fit?  If you have a full-service Sears store near you, items can be returned there.  Just call your store if you aren't sure and they can tell you if they take Lands End returns.  I love it because we have a Sears store just 5 minutes from my house, I'm sure it has saved me a ton of money in return shipping fees.  I'm hoping this is something that doesn't go away anytime soon either, it is nice knowing that if something just doesn't work out, I can easily return it at no additional expense.

One last way to save money--if you are a regular Sears or Kmart customer, be sure to sign up for a Shop My Way Rewards account.  Sears, Kmart and Lands End are all part of this, so you earn points on purchases at all three stores and they can be redeemed at all three as well.  I generally save up all of my points to use on my Lands End orders, it just makes it easy for me to keep track of.  I've saved as much as $5 with this, if I shopped at Sears and Kmart more I could probably save even more. 

There are several things from Lands End that I just love--their canvas totes (I've mentioned them before), their turtlenecks and their men's pants.  They offer free hemming on most of their pants so you can get them exactly the length you want.  My husband has short legs and it was hard to find pants that fit, it seemed as though we had to hem every pair.  Not anymore, I order them and they fit right every time.  The pants are a couple of bucks more expensive than the ones we used to buy but I think they are better quality and it's so worth that little expense to not have to hem them, I hate to hem pants!  I also swear by their coats and gloves, I have multiples of each and they hold up so well.  I have long fingers and it's hard for me to find gloves sometimes, I've quit looking and just order them from Lands End. 

One of the things about Lands End that has kept them in business for so long is that they have a satisfaction guarantee--if you aren't happy with something, return it.  No questions asked.  I had a real life experience with this a couple of years ago.  A coat I bought turned out to have a major defect in it, but I didn't discover it until after I'd had it several months.  I'd worn it a couple of times, paperwork and packing material was long gone.  I wasn't sure what to do, so I decided to call, the customer service representative was incredibly helpful and before the day was out, my defective coat was returned and my payment for it credited.  I was so impressed, and I'm sure that is one of the things that keeps people coming back. 

Just so you know--I am getting no compensation for writing this, I'm just a regular customer.  And hopefully armed with this additional information, you will be a customer too, or if you already are, you've discovered a way to save some additional money.  Everyone likes saving money :)

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