Experts say that at outlet stores, you can get clothes and accessories that look so much like they came from regular stores that the average person can't tell the difference, even though the prices at outlet stores are often far lower. "For the naked eye, between retail and outlet, they can't tell," said Aly Scott, a professional stylist and founder of StyleChic.
With the help of two Rossen Reports producers, TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen set up an experiment on the street. One producer went to a J.Crew outlet store and bought a head-to-toe outfit that cost a total of $289. The other producer also bought a head-to-toe outfit, but hers came from a regular J.Crew store and cost more than double that: $660.
When people on the street were challenged to identify which outfit was purchased from the retail store and which from the outlet, the results were revealing.
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There were similarly dramatic results when passersby were challenged to tell the difference between a Coach wallet bought for $227 from the regular store and one from the Coach outlet for less than half that: $107.
Live in the TODAY studio, Rossen and another Rossen Reports producer challenged Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie to identify which of them was wearing a $923 suit from a retail store and which a $369 outfit from an outlet store. Both Matt and Savannah chose incorrectly.
Why do the expensive clothes and accessories cost more? Experts say that the stitching is better, you usually get a higher quality fabric and, if you look more closely, the colors are more textured. Still, the clothes and accessories from outlet stores are well made and won't fall apart on you.