Welcome, one and all, to the new Fashion Outlets of Chicago! Right next to O’Hare Airport and an easy Blue Line train ride from downtown here is a mall that brings all of Michigan Avenue under one roof. With some extra discounts.
The Fashion Outlets of Chicago opened on Thursday, August 1st and I took a trip out there (with my mom) on Saturday, August 3rd. We arrived at 10:30 AM, about 30 minutes after the mall opened, and the crowds weren’t crazy….yet.
After grabbing a map and perusing the store listing I was most excited to check out The Limited Outlet, the J. Crew Factory Store, and the Banana Republic Factory store. Of course, a long the way I saw many others I just HAD to duck into. I mean, with a store list like this, what more could I want?
As it turned out, of the three stores I was looking forward to the most, I only left one with a bag in my hand. And it wasn’t The Limited! In fact, The Limited Outlet store didn’t seem all that different from a regular store and the prices weren’t significantly different. Bummer! Similar with J. Crew. The online selection at the J. Crew Factory website was much better than in the store. There was only one dress I saw in the store that I can’t find online and it was still over $100.
But the Banana Republic Factory store stayed true to being one of my favorite outlet stores. Great prices, fun selection, lots of sizes. I left with a short sleeved lace top just like I’ve been wanting and an emerald green sweater that caught my eye.
I also stopped in White House Black Market where I found a skirt I’d been eying on ebay after it sold out in the regular stores and online and got my watch battery changed at the Fossil store ($10 total. Yes!). And, of course, because I was with my mom we tried on shoes, shoes and more shoes. We like shoes. The best shoe find of the day? Some beautiful Vince Camuto wedge sandals for under $60. So comfy, so cute.
The Neiman Marcus Last Call was a new store for me and I admit I was sticker shocked at some of the prices. Still, I found an adorable black cap sleeved sheath dress with faux leather accents that I immediately wore out to dinner on Saturday night. All dresses were 40% off so it was a pretty good deal.
If you like high end designers, you can find Armani, Coach, Gucci, Prada, Tory Burch, Tahari, Allsaints and others. Just be aware that for many of these stores they only let a few people in the store at a time so you may have to wait in a LONG line to get in. Instead, why not head over to the anchor stores of Bloomingdale’s Outlet or Saks Off 5th and find your designer duds there?
The only store I would have wanted to see that wasn’t there was Ann Taylor otherwise all the places I like to shop and then some were represented. Note that this mall is almost entirely clothes and shoes with very few accessory or home goods stores. Food-wise there is a food court on the first floor that has some nice options, including Freshii and Chicago Burger in addition to the usual Sbarro pizza and generic Asian selections. There is also a food area on the second floor with two sit-down restaurants including Prasino, although Prasino didn’t seem to be open just yet.
Towards the afternoon the outlets got significantly more crowded so I would definitely suggest getting there as close to opening time (10:00 AM) as you can. Plus, then you have a better view of the fun art they have hanging from the ceiling.
If you go from downtown Chicago, you have several options:
1. Drive and park in the attached parking structure. Parking fees are reasonable:
- First 2 hours – FREE
- 2-3 hours – $3.00 *
- 3-4 hours – $6.00 *
- 4-5 hours – $9.00*
- 5-8 hours – $15.00
- 8+ hours – $20.00
Please note that parking for up to 5 hours will also be free from Aug 5th – Aug 17th.
Note that traffic in that area can get backed up so check traffic reports or Google maps ahead of time.
2. Take the Blue Line towards O’Hare from downtown Chicago.
The Fashion Outlets of Chicago are located about a 10-15 minute walk south along River Road from the Rosemont Blue Line stop. Exit the train station and turn left onto River Road. The directions on the website say to turn right onto Technology Boulevard but I suggest you turn right onto Balmoral. Right now the pedestrian access is not very well marked and crosswalks are limited so pay attention and be safe! You can also take buses to and from the outlets at the Rosemont station if you buy so much you don’t want to walk back.
3. Take Metra
The Fashion Outlets of Chicago are a 5 minute walk east on Balmoral Avenue from the Rosemont Station on the North Central line that leaves out of Union Station. However, the North Central Line only runs on weekdays so keep that in mind.
Overall this was a fun day trip if you like to shop. I can’t declare that the prices were significantly cheaper than at regular stores but having everything under one roof was nice and it was a fun change of pace from Water Tower or 900 N Michigan. Also, in the winter I suspect this will be a go-to place when it’s too cold to deal with Old Orchard or Oakbrook Mall. Plus, it is accessible via CTA which is a benefit over somewhere else indoors such as Woodfield Mall.
What do you think? Will you be checking out the new Fashion Outlets of Chicago?
Note: I was not paid to write this post. I just thought it would nice to tell my fellow Chicagoans about this new mall!