The big TK Maxx challenge: Take one fashion snob, drop her in the bargain store and find out if she can get designer outfits for a fraction of their label price…

You wouldn’t call me a natural TK Maxx shopper. Of course, I understand there are designer pieces to be had at bargain prices, but that jumble-sale vibe has never been an attraction. 

I also realise there are many who adore the store. Type ‘TK Maxx’ into Facebook and you’ll unearth endless groups devoted to the finding and sharing of bargains across the country. 

Meanwhile, the faceless Instagram account TKFashun promises to traipse from store to store sourcing the best pieces so you don’t have to.

For this challenge, I was tasked with buying four looks, the only rules being that everything (including accessories) had to be bought on one day in the same branch of the store. No sneaking in my own pieces. 

No panic-buying from the nearest branch of Zara. (Anyway, TK Maxx stocks Zara – of course it does!). And so I headed to London’s Hammersmith branch.

TK Maxx is keen for me to stress that you won’t necessarily find my buys at your nearest shop – all stores carry different stock; even if you do find them, they might not be in your size. 

While this might sound like a negative, it turned out to be a positive. Unlike the cookie-cutter stock in many high-street stores, every TK Maxx is different. Yes, it’s frustrating if they’ve only got something in one size (not yours), but when you do find that designer gem for a fraction of the price, the thrill is enormous.

I optimistically commandeered a mega trolley, but nobody was more surprised than me to discover that there was a lot I wanted to try on. 

Far from being some kind of graveyard for ill-advised designer experiments or high-street deadstock, TK Maxx is a fashion treasure trove.

It takes a while to get used to the fact that clothes are arranged by size rather than style on the racks, but once you spot your first fashion find – for me a Jil Sander jacket (a snip at £399; it could have cost almost £2,000) – the love affair begins.

Here are the four looks that finally made a Maxxer of me.

A whole new look for under £100

Nothing in this outfit (which was the definite favourite of the YOU team on our shoot) was more than £30. I’m tall (5ft 10in) so finding maxi skirts that are maxi isn’t easy, but this was the perfect cut and length.

Waistcoat, Via Bovio, £29.99 (RRP unknown).

Skirt, Saiph Lab, £17.99 (RRP unknown). 

Belt, Weinmann, £12.99 (RRP £24). 

Sandals, Mango, £16.99 (similar at Mango, £35.99)

Total = £77.96 

The designer jacket jackpot

This Jil Sander is more of an investment than the other pieces, but if you’re going to splash out on a TK Maxx designer purchase, I’d do it on tailoring.

Blazer, Jil Sander, £399 (similar at, £1,704). 

Waistcoat, Via Bovio, £29.99 (RRP unknown). 

Jeans, American Eagle, £19.99 (similar at, £39.79). 

Trainers, Puma, £34.99 (RRP £65).

 Bag, LRM, £99.99 (RRP £148)

Total = £583.96

A classic cardi, jeans and a drop-dead bag

This cardigan seems like a forever piece – and what a bargain at £90. You can feel every bit of the weighty quality that made the RRP £349. 

The Donna Ida jeans suck me in, in all the right places, without feeling restrictive. Special mention for the under-£30 bag: convincingly designer.

Cardigan, Polo by Ralph Lauren, £89.99 (RRP £349). 

T-shirt, Karen by Simonsen, £16.99 (RRP £49).

 Jeans, Donna Ida, £69.99 (similar at, £215). 

Bag, Alex Max, £24.99 (RRP £76)

Total = £201.96

A fashiony fleece jacket

I am mildly obsessed with this jacket. I’ve wanted the Toteme one (£2,100) for ever and this is the perfect piece to fill that gap in my wardrobe (while warding off the gap in my finances).

I’m off to the Lake District this weekend so the new fleece jacket will be front and centre.

Jacket, 7 For All Mankind, £59.99 (RRP £159).

T-shirt, Berna Italia, £9.99 (RRP £21). 

Leggings, Carolina Belle, £19.99 (RRP unknown). 

Boots, Truffle, £12.99 (RRP £50). 

Sunglasses, O by Oscar, £14.99 (similar £99)

Total = £117.95

 How to get the best from the sale rails

1 Give yourself time. Stock is ordered by size, not style so it’s easy to miss things.

2 I was extremely impressed by TK Maxx nightwear. If, like me, you have a terrible weakness for pyjamas, this will be your happy place.

3 Don’t buy for price point alone – you won’t diet into it, give it to a friend or undergo a complete style metamorphosis once you get it home.

4 Try on unfamiliar designers. Sizing varies enormously between labels but when it’s on you it’s also easier to see how it might work in your wardrobe.

5 If you’re specifically after cut-price designer brands, try the Gold Label section. I found everything from Rixo to Roksanda.

6 There isn’t a ‘stock drop’ day at TK Maxx but, it reports, new items arrive several times a week so don’t be disheartened if you don’t find that gem first time.

7 You can buy TK Maxx online. If it’s a designer bargain you’re after – the choice can be quite overwhelming – narrow your search using the term Gold Label. For advance notice of designer stock landing, sign up to the newsletter.

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