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Three Outfits, One Girl, One T.J.Maxx (+ Lots of Insider Info About Your Favorite Bargain Haunt!)

My mom and I have a shopping term we use often when describing a certain shopping situation. You know, that situation wherein you enter a store, see something you want/need/may want/may need, and you know you must buy it immediately because if you don’t it’ll be gone by the time you go back for it and you know it won’t be restocked? One-time-only, get-it-while-it’s-hot. We call it The T.J.Maxx Syndrome.

The T.J.Maxx Syndrome most commonly comes into play when shopping 1. thrift stores, 2. estate sales, 3. while on vacation, and 4. at the T.J.Maxx (but did that need to be said?)

The T.J.Maxx Syndrome is a very serious syndrome, and can quite often explain why sometimes you’ll go into a store and buy everything even remotely cute even though the store is going to be restocking that shirt plenty of times and you do have time to think about that purchase first. (See also: “Sorry honey, it was the T.J.Maxx Syndrome that made me do it!”)

(The Forever 21 is a classically T.J.Maxx Syndrome-appropriate situation.)

I was invited to tour a Manhattan T.J.Maxx location a few weeks ago with a store rep to get all the inside info about how T.J.Maxx works, and I was all over it. The T.J.Maxx is such an institution in our family, it’s practically our fourth sister.

After the jump, I’ve got answers to your most-commonly-asked T.J.Maxx questions (including but not limited to: Why is T.J.Maxx so similar to Marshalls? How does T.J.Maxx get a hold of those clothes? If I find a Kate Spade jacket at T.J.Maxx for really really cheap, does that mean there’s something wrong with it?!?).

Plus, I model three looks starring three different T.J.Maxx scores and you get to guess which it is. Yikes! Hope you enjoy!

How Does T.J.Maxx get ahold of those cheap fashions anyway?

Contrary to what I’d always presumed, none of the clothes or shoes or accessories available at T.J.Maxx or Marshall’s are diffusion lines, unwanted products, or production mistakes. What happens is this: Say a department store purchases a line from a designer. That designer’s manufacturers are sometimes able to cut costs by producing more than what’s ordered (say 50,000 shirts instead of the requested 40,000). Other times, a department store will over order an item. Other times, a department store will order an item and then cancel mid production. T.J.Maxx has a team of buyers who purchase these items directly from the manufacturers themselves, thus getting great deals, which they then pass on to us! These are the very same items that are available at other stores, just cheaper. How much cheaper? On average, 20-60% cheaper.

Wait–Are T.J.Maxx and Marshalls the same company? What’s the difference?

They are! (Home Goods, too.) Here are some key differences: T.J.Maxx has a dedicated designer section (this section is f-u-n), while Marshalls has a dedicated Junior’s department called The Cube.

Where is my local store?

Here. This website will tell you. Or you can call 1-800-2TJ-MAXX. Fun, right?

And now we are going to play: Spot The T.J.Maxx Score, wherein I model three looks I got to style, each made up of at least one (1) T.J.Maxx score. Isn’t this a party?


  • T.J.Maxx Look One 1 of 3
    T.J.Maxx Look One
    Abercrombie & Fitch denim jacket, off-brand faux fur vest, Current/Elliott leggings, Max Azria tee, Zara wedges.
    Can you guess the T.J.Maxx score?
  • T.J.Maxx Look Two 2 of 3
    T.J.Maxx Look Two
    B.P. cardigan, Max Azria tee, necklaces by Madewell and Caroline Armelle, Theory leather shorts, Current/Elliott leggings, Zara wedges.
    Can you guess the T.J.Maxx score?
  • T.J.Maxx Look Three 3 of 3
    T.J.Maxx Look Three
    Woven checked shirt, off-brand lace belt, Paige Premium Denim wide-legged jeans, off-brand wedges.
    Can you guess the T.J.Maxx score?

In these looks:

Madewell checked shirt: $70.00 (from Madewell)

Max Azria white tee: $5 (from Walmart)

B.P. cardigan: $24.00 (from Nordstrom)

Abercrombie & Fitch denim jacket–purchased a million years ago at A&F

Current/Elliott leggings: $70.00 (c/o my local T.J.Maxx!)

Paige Premium Denim trousers: $39.99 (c/o my local T.J.Maxx!)

Theory leather shorts: $200 (c/o my local T.J.Maxx!)

Zara wedges: $90.00 (from Zara)

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