Tripping Over the New Lane Bryant Outlets
Don’t know what to expect from the new Lane Bryant Outlet plus size
clothing stores? Neither did I, until I visited one this past weekend.
I happened upon the Lane Bryant Outlet in the Anne Arundel Mall here in Maryland, mostly by accident. (Without an official website, Lane Bryant Outlet is depending on the Lane Bryant store mailing lists and traditional avenues of advertising to get out the word. This is a mistake, and might cost them. As Fashion Bug learned, in the modern world, nothing makes a real world storefront less accessible than not having a website. Consumers don’t want to have to dig through the bottom links of another site to find out where you’re located.)
Anyway, I was chatting with my sister and learned that a new store had opened by her house. She showed me a delicious plus size silk-tiered cami in black and white that she’d picked up there, so we decided to go together. First, of course, we printed out some coupons – no reason to pay full price, even at a plus size clothing outlet!
Making Room for Plus Size Fashion
Upon entering the store, the first thing I noticed was the square footage. Traditionally, Lane Bryant stores are crowded and difficult to navigate. Every time you go to pull one plus size blouse from the tangle, you knock three more off the rack behind you with your purse. This has been the case in every Lane Bryant store I have ever shopped, from upstate New York to Boston to Chicago to Baltimore. I thought it was a given, because plus size clothing takes up more space on the rack, and the store wants to fit as many different options as possible.
Lane Bryant Outlet, however, seemed to work on a different principle: that being able to see the clothing more clearly, having wide aisles and fewer items, would make for a more pleasant shopping experience. As the store becomes more popular and has more plus size clothing to offer, perhaps they’ll change their mind about this, but from this shopper’s perspective, it was a welcome change.
The selection of plus size clothing was not what I expected from an outlet store at all. I thought I would find obscure and no-longer-manufactured items and plus size cast offs from the main Lane Bryant line at a discounted price. The sales ladies informed me that their entire selection will be different.
Lane Bryant Outlet stores gets its own line of plus size clothing. And the selection was encouraging. Lovely plus size tank-tops and dressy blouses. A wide selection of plus size sweaters and denim. Plus size dress slacks. I was able to snatch up a glittering cardigan for about 25% less than I would have expected to pay.
Unfortunately for larger women or those who like their clothes on the loose side, the Lane Bryant Outlet showed every sign of being as stingy with extended sizes as their Lane Bryant Store cousin. Denim was not available in the full range of plus sizes, and a number of plus size tops were cut on the small side. The fabric choices also seemed to be on the non-stretchy side.
Every item in the store had a price-tag that gave you a familiar ‘OMG this is gorgeous but I can’t afford it’ feeling, but the price-tags were completely useless. It’s the signs that tell you how much you’ll pay at the Lane Bryant Outlet – and they plus size clothing itself is deeply discounted, sometimes up to as much as 50% off.
Which begs the question. If Lane Bryant Outlet has its own line of clothing that they intend to sell for very reasonable prices, why are they pretending to mark them up on the price-tag? The deception is irritating, but you’re still getting a deal.
Think Lane Bryant plus size fashion on a Fashion Bug Budget.
I was able to buy two extremely well-designed plus size bras for about half what I would pay in a normal Lane Bryant store, and some plus size cotton panties to boot. Plus size essentials are very reasonably priced, and will ensure that I never shop for them at a normal Lane Bryant store again.
Service is a Plus
But the thing that made the Lane Bryant Outlet experience so exceptional was the service. Here I was, at an outlet store. I expected less service than I would receive in a Lane Bryant store, not more. I was pleasantly surprised.
Large, well-lit, and conveniently located dressing rooms awaited my sister and me. There was no need to find a clerk to unlock the door; the cubbies were enclosed by curtains, and a sales representative sat nearby.
The dressing room attendant was deeply interested in our shopping experience, made recommendations, and volunteered to fetch items in different sizes for us when something didn’t fit. She even modeled a popular shirt for us, convinced that it would sell better if customers saw the clerks wearing it.
Bottom line? The old Lane Bryant store in the mall down the street is now looking pretty shabby to me. I’ll likely drive a half hour out of my way to visit the Lane Bryant Outlet store again. Check it out. It’s worth your time.