Enter O's creative director, Adam Glassman, a man who possesses a dazzling superpower: the unerring ability to know when 25 percent is being taken off anything, anytime, anyplace. "If it's a bargain you're looking for, we need to hit the outlets," he says. Gayle is skeptical. "I love a good deal, but at an outlet? I don't know, I usually end up wandering aimlessly. This whole Woodbury thing is a mystery to me," she says.
The "Woodbury thing" Gayle refers to is Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. Located about an hour north of New York City, the 150 acres of wall-to-wall discounts make Woodbury the largest collection of designer outlets (220 to be exact) in the United States. This is the place that separates the planet's true shopping geniuses from your basic Saturday-afternoon mall browsers. It's the place that draws more than ten million people a year from all over the world. It's the place costume designers come to dress women on the soaps, the place members of a certain royal family and at least one Jonas brother come to save a few dollars, the place that kicks off Black Friday by opening at midnight on Thanksgiving, and now it's the place Adam will take Gayle for a crash course in outlet shopping.
She suggests that they head up around lunchtime on Sunday. He suggests that she has some sort of death wish: "The weekends are insane. If we have to go on a Sunday, then we need to get there before the stores open. The key is to get a parking spot that's right near the entrance." He plots strategy much the way General Petraeus coordinates an air strike. "You see, if I go to the outlets in Palm Springs, I like to go midday, when it's way too hot to be on the golf course, but if I'm shopping the Orlando outlets, I go after dinner because they're open until 11. On the other hand, if—" Gayle cuts him off before he can get out his PowerPoint: "How's Tuesday for you?"
On Monday night, Adam all but color-codes a map of the stores he wants to check out (there will be no "aimless wandering" on his watch) and e-mails his preshopping marching orders:
1. Wear something that's easy to slip off and on.
2. Remove any nonessentials from your purse. If things go according to plan, we'll be carrying a lot of bags, so you want to travel as light as possible.
3. Get your makeup on and your hair looking good. You'll be logging a lot of mirror time, and the lighting in most dressing rooms is notoriously cruel. You don't want to find yourself trapped in a schlumpadinka moment.
4. Be sure to wear really comfortable shoes.
Gayle shows up Tuesday morning in a simple wrap dress. Her shoulder bag holds little more than a wallet. She has lipsticked. She has combed. The shoes are another matter. "Oh, Gayle," Adam moans at the sight of the floral clogs she has paired with lacy black peds.
"They were my only clean peds, and you told me 'comfortable,'" she says defiantly. "If I'm in the wrong shoe and I've got a lot of walking to do, I get these shooting pains that start at my toes and go straight up to my vagi—"
"Okay!" Adam announces before Gayle can finish the thought. "We're starting with Oscar!"