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Thanks to Outlets at Sparks, back-to-school didn’t break the bank

I had just learned a phrase from some millennials I know. And I was dying to use it on my kids. You know, just to secure my reputation as coolest mom ever.

“You guys are going to look so on fleek when you start school this year,” I said confidently.

My kids, 13 and 15, looked at me as if I had just said told them they were adopted. Which, of course, they’re not.

“Mom,” Dylan said, staring me down. “Don’t say that.”

He was serious, but also sarcastic. Classic Dylan.

Here I was, trying to be all hip. Turns out, the second I tried to be hip, I wasn’t hip. Instead, I was embarrassing.

Sounds about right. For anyone with teens, you know exactly what I mean.

And I should have known better. I remember one year as I was shopping for back-to-school clothes for my freshman year at McQueen High School. I was searching for a B.U.M. Equipment sweatshirt and a pair of Esprit jeans. And my mom said something was “rad.”

I gave her the same look my son had just given me.

OK, lesson learned and moving on. We were on the way to Outlets at Sparks, which is one of the few places in town that caters to all of my kids — two teens and one toddler. Of course on this day, I had decided to leave the toddler in the capable hands of her daycare. This was time for my teens.


Probably much to their chagrin.

A friend of mine suggested I stop by the VF Outlet, which alarmingly, I had never visited before. And now I’m beating myself up as to why I hadn’t before. This place was amazing; a huge resource for both of my teens, lots of stylish clearance, shoes, accessories. I got in a conversation with the salesperson about the name, learning it does stand for “Vanity Fair.” She also told me the VF Corporation opened the first outlet center in the entire country.

And this all made sense, considering the great deals we found.

Dylan first tried this hoodie and jeans combo. So inexpensive. So handsome. Hoodie $17. Wrangler jeans $7.97. An entire outfit for $25.


Then of course, there has to be the DC Comics-inspired statement T. $9. Flash, of course.


A plain grey T that goes with anything; especially at this price: $2.97.

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I also found the Clearance rack, with abundant options. Loved these waffle knit tops, each marked $14 with an additional 75 percent off. That’s right: $3.50 each.

Exciting enough to elicit a jump for joy.


Multiple interchangeable outfits for him, total price $44.

Then it was Jill’s turn: a pair of black capris for $9.97, a simple light blue French laundry tank (2 for $10) and a teen essential —a denim jacket by Wall Flower, $26 — paired with coral canvas shoes for $4.97.


Dylan then took off to decide on shoes, while Jilleann and I headed to Forever 21.

We love Forever 21, with its multiple rooms and diverse styles and crazy-loud music. I popped an Advil and Jill went off in search of ankle boots and a few outfits.

And find them, she did. With the prices on clothes, I was able to justify a little more money for the ankle booties ($39.90). But the prices for the boots were still cheaper than I had found them elsewhere in town.

Denim jeans for $7.90; white tee with striped sleeves, $7, flannel shirt, $12. Even with the splurge on the booties, the whole outfit: $67 for four pieces.


Then we found this adorable letterman-inspired jacket, $16.


We also found a dress that would be adorable at a school dance: $22.80, with a denim crop shirt for $29.90 and those booties.


And of course, even though the baby wasn’t there, we didn’t forget her.

After all, who could possibly forget this face?


Knit top with matching shorts from Carter’s, $8.49; sassy sunglasses: $4.99 from Gymboree.


And this: Coral heart print dress from Gymboree: $7.99.

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So on the way to the car after an exhausting, laugh-filled four-hour marathon, we stopped by Vans and scored the pair of shoes my son has been stalking for months: Star Wars vans, $29.99.

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The Force was definitely with us on this day.

All told: multiple outfits, shoes, accessories and loads of smiles. And three children who will be at the head of the class in terms of fashion: All for about $300.

Back to school for less than $100 per child? Now that’s on fleek.

Or is it “on fleak”? Never mind.

Perhaps we’ll just go with “rad.”

About the models: 

Dylan Dahle, 15, aspires to be the next Jimmy Fallon and/or an FBI agent. He is entering his junior year in high school. 

Jilleann Dahle, 13, is an aspiring part-time actress, part-time professional soccer player. She is entering 8th grade.

Bryerlee Byerman is 2. ‘Nuff said.

Actually, one more thing: Her life goal is world domination. And she loves rolly pollies, though she tends to inadvertently squish them due to her freakish strength. 

outlets at sparks


This post was sponsored by The Outlets at Sparks.


About Mikalee Byerman

Mikalee Byerman
Voted "Best Creative Writer" in 2018 by readers of the Reno News & Review, Mikalee Byerman will henceforth be talking about this distinction ad nauseam because it's the first and only popularity contest this former buck-toothed nerd has ever won in her life. She is a humor essayist whose highly controversial blog, Me 2.0, has been featured on the Huffington Post and TIME Magazine's websites. Her writing also has appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal, Southwest Spirit Magazine and Alaska Airlines Magazine. Her debut book — 100 Things to Do in Reno Before You Die — was published last year by Reedy Press. During the day, she is VP of Strategy for the Estipona Group. Oh, and her name rhymes with "prickly fireman," though FYI, she's neither prickly nor a fireman.

One comment

  1. Awe!! I love bryerlee !! Miss jazmin loves you girl! This popped up on my fb! So awesome!

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