The Gilt Sample Sale Chicago: Sample Sale 101 The Gilt Sample Sale Chicago: Sample Sale 101
The Gilt Sample Sale Chicago: Sample Sale 101 The Gilt Sample Sale Chicago: Sample Sale 101

The Gilt Sample Sale Chicago: Sample Sale 101 The Gilt Sample Sale Chicago: Sample Sale 101

You guys. I almost forgot another reason October is so great: the Gilt Sample Sale Chicago is this weekend! (I’m also attending a Blackhawks game with my cousin, a yearly tradition of ours since she started college. So between hockey and sample sales, it’s just going to be a very Abby weekend.)

I attended my first Gilt Sample Sale Chicago earlier this year and scored some major deals. Buuuuut I also might have purchased a pair of really chic J.Brand jeans that were actually a size too small. Yeah, sure, they were a super good deal and Damsel in Dior owns the exact same pair, but my booty is just never going to be a J.Brand size 26. (And to be honest, I’m 100% okay with that.)

Which brings me to my next point: sample sales are amazing and magical places but they are NOT for the faint of heart or impulse buyers. Which, uh, included me the first time around. Lessons learned, guys, lessons learned! And now, I am here to pass on my hard-won wisdom, so that you may go forth and conquer sample sales like the boss bitch you are.

The Gilt Sample Sale Chicago is probably the biggest one in the city… we don’t have nearly as many sample sales as New York, for instance. (Though I heard rumblings that SoulCycle might be bringing their sample sale to Chicago in the future. If that’s true, all bets are off and I’m ignoring all my own rules and buying everything.) Luckily, the Gilt sale is amazing and well worth the price of admission.

Here are my tips and tricks for shopping the Gilt Sample Sale Chicago, but they’re applicable to pretty much any sample sale!


Think ahead a little bit about holes in your wardrobe and what you want to look out for at the sale. Do you want to start in shoes, or could you use some new outerwear? Formulate a plan, and keep it in mind as you hunt through the racks.


Part of what makes a sample sale so much fun is the thrill of discovery. Sure, you might be laser focused on a winter coat, but what if a fabulous pair of booties catches your eye? One of my favorite purchases from the spring sale was a button-down top by The Kooples with lace sleeves… definitely not something I was specifically looking for! (The other was Philip, which is what I named this amazing fur-lined army jacket by 3.1 Philip Lim. It’s my first Philip Lim piece that’s not from his Target collection.)


Even though the Gilt Sample Sale Chicago is organized into time slots, there will be a line to get in. It’s best to be as close to the front of the line as possible in order to view the merchandise before everyone else rifles through it, and it’s still organized and pretty!

It’s also a good idea to go as soon as you can on the first day of the sale, for the best selection. However, if you can’t make it right away, sales will often offer deeper discounts on the last day in order to clear all the product out.


I brought my friend Stephanie to the Gilt Sample Sale Chicago earlier this year, and she made a classic rookie mistake: picking up an item, then putting it down because she wasn’t sure about it.

Like I said, sample sales are NOT for the faint of heart. If you think you might even remotely want to purchase something, do the “grab and guard.” Tote it around with you as you browse, then find an undisturbed corner to evaluate and make decisions.

Because if you don’t grab it, someone else definitely will.


If you think you do want to purchase something, examine it very, very carefully. This is a sample sale, so goods might not be in the best shape. Check that shoes are the same size and look for any defects (like tears or stains).

Of course, you should also try on any clothes you’re interested in. The Gilt Sample Sale Chicago has a communal dressing room, like many sample sales. Try to wear a simple outfit that’s easy to try things on over, like leggings and a form-fitting tank. (Bonus outfit tip: if your bag is small enough, you can skip checking it! At the Gilt Sample Sale, bags smaller than 5×7 do not need to be checked.)


It costs money to attend the Gilt Sample Sale Chicago, so it can be easy to think, “Oh, I NEED to buy something so it’s worth it!” Well, all merchandise is final sale, so be sure you really love it before you bring it home with you.

Plus, the Gilt sale is truly a shopping party, with a DJ, complimentary cocktails and more! So worst case scenario, it’s a fun way to spend a Friday or a Saturday.


I drank too much complimentary rosé at the spring Gilt Sale and that is how I ended up buying size 26 J.Brand jeans, my friends. Because everything feels fine and looks like it fits when you’re two or three glasses of rosé in. (WHAT. I am a lightweight, who cares.)

So if you are attending the Gilt Sample Sale Chicago this weekend, make sure you take advantage of the free snacks and coconut water just as much as the free cocktails.

Grab your tickets to the October Gilt Sample Sale Chicago tickets here — and let me know if you’re going on Friday! I’d love to say hi.

Feature Image: Second City Style