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Friends & Family sales were originally just what they sound like. Retailers would allow employees to extend a discount—usually a blanket 30%—exclusively to their own friends, family members, and other acquaintances before the seasonal clearance sales officially began. There was even a little postcard involved, if we remember correctly.
Nowadays retailers have done away with the exclusivity angle, and the postcards, and everyone get in on the fun. And while nearly every high-street brand participates, the real deals are at the department stores where Friends & Family means rare discounts on designer items that never or rarely go on sale. While some high-end department stores sit the event out—we're looking at you, Barneys—here are three major ones coming up in the next few weeks.
Bloomie's traditionally holds their F&F sale right around the end of March, so if you were holding out for a pair of L.K. Bennett pumps or a Vince Camuto bag, hang in there: your moment is near. Bloomingdale's tends to stock chic but safe designers—Michael Kors, Tory Burch, DVF—which makes them a great source for classic pieces that aren't likely to go out of style before you've paid off your credit card bill.
Saks Fifth Avenue:
Saks' spring F&F sale typically starts at the end of April. The downside to this sale is that the discount is usually only 20% off (or less for jewelry and accessories) and some brands are excluded. The upside, of course, is the incredible edit of luxury designers. Powerboost up your professional wardrobe with designer pumps, Akris blazers, and Narciso Rodriguez sheath dresses.
Neiman Marcus Last Call:
A press rep confirmed that the department store outlet will be having a Friends & Family sale this season, and that it will begin around the 20th of March. And as this retailer specializes in those rare designer items that are both chic and appropriate for the fancier occasions on your social calendar, this is the best place to hunt for special-occasion outfits: summer weddings, graduations, and any family outing that involves the words "brunch" and "grandma" included.
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