The Ultimate Guide To Shopping At Banana Republic

When strolling through your local mall or finding the best casual wear online, Banana Republic may come to mind as one of the major retailers that sells an array of fashions with deals and discounts often too good to pass up. Banana Republic has become a staple store among the likes of The Gap and Old Navy for its classic styles and consistent prices.

Founded in 1978 by Mel and Patricia Zeigler, the brand was created to offer its customers surplus, safari-inspired casual wear. It was acquired by The Gap five years into its success and, since then, has expanded into a wide range of well-made styles for men, women, children, and even homes (via Forbes).

In an interview with Forbes, co-founder Mel Ziegler explained how Banana Republic always aimed to make a name in the fashion industry. "We hired other creative people, and like us they worked best when they felt the free to let their imaginations soar. Together, we re-invented stores as theater and catalogs as must-read literary adventure journals." He continued, saying, "In every way we could imagine, we blazed a path of our own into uncharted territory. It was a wild and exhilarating ride for us and our customers."

To make the most of what Banana Republic has to offer, check out these tips and tricks, and make your shopping experience all the more fruitful.

Understand the rewards program

The first thing to know about being a savvy shopper at Banana Republic or any of its sister stores is that signing up for their credit card or email rewards system can get you some great deals whether you're a holiday shopper or a longtime customer. In July 2021, the credit card and rewards programs merged to include The Banana Republic Rewards Credit Card, the Banana Republic Rewards Mastercard. and the Banana Republic Rewards World Mastercard, according to the brand's website.

Nerd Wallet considers the rewards to be solid. They come in three levels depending on the customer type – Core Level is for customers who spend less than $500 annually. Enthusiast Level is for credit card holders and rewards members who spend over $500 annually at any of the sister brands of Banana Republic, The Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, or Banana Republic Factory Store. And finally, Icon Level is reserved for holders of the Banana Republic Rewards World Mastercard or customers who spend $1,000 dollars or more at any of these brands annually or have reached that dollar amount in reward points. Cardmembers earn 5 points for every dollar they spend at Banana Republic or other Gap Inc. stores, and 1 point for every dollar spent at non-Gap Inc. stores.

Other perks include 20% off your first purchase with the card and free shipping with orders over $50 (via Barclays).

Banana Republic runs killer sales often

Banana Republic often offers numerous sales each year, including some secret ones.

In March 2022, E! News reported that the brand had a secret sale offering an additional 50% off their already discounted merchandise — meaning you could save up to 85% with this particular sale combination! For black Friday, Banana Republic offered 40% off in-store and online merchandise (via Blacker Friday). No wonder Who What Wear recommended Banana Republic at the top of their holiday wish list for their impeccable deals on fun and elegant holiday party attire.

For memorial day, Banana Republic Factory has been known to give an extra 15% discount on items already up to 70% off (via USA Today). Really, it seems as if the brand is always doling out deals or discounts — and thus has become known for its great promotions. Keep your ear to the ground — or eyes on your inbox — because you can wind up saving a pretty penny.

Know how to shop the seasons

A good tip for anyone looking to save for next year's big purchases is to learn the clothing cycles of your favorite brands. According to shopping expert Trae Bodge, the savvy Banana Republic shopper should look for the best deals on seasonal items in the middle or near the end of their season. For spring, this would mean mid-April to the beginning of June; for summer, mid-July to early September; for fall, mid-October to early December; and for winter, mid-January to early March.

Additionally, Bodge explained that customers can find good deals on clothing for next winter during summertime when they're majorly discounted. In the winter, do the same for those cargo shorts, tanks, and tees. The later you shop for the current styles, the better the deals will likely be.

Make sure to swing by the clearance sections during special sales, too. While 30% is the typical discount assigned to sale items, it's possible to score 40 to 50% off at times.

The Banana Republic Factory Store offers familiar styles at a lower price point

Banana Republic offers specific stylings for its online and brick-and-mortar stores versus its factory outlet stores. Some clothing pieces are made specifically for factory outlet stores, which usually stock merchandise that is already heavily discounted. CBS News tasks Annette Ishida, a Parsons School of Design graduate and Calvin Klein designer, to compare Banana Republic merchandise from the store and the outlet to determine if there was a major difference in quality.

While the consensus was that the two pairs of pants (the outlet pair for $41.99 and the store pair for $80.25) she evaluated did look the same and the quality of the fabric was nice, some design differences suggested the factory garment was made to be sold at a lower price point. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, considering you may just be looking for deals on clothing that will work well for the casual work lunch or public outing. The Banana Republic Factory Store is a solid choice for savvy shoppers looking for clothing at a steal of a price. "I like going to the outlet," Ishida revealed. "I like the fact that you can get that look at a price point."

What to buy at Banana Republic

With so many options offered at the Banana Republic, it can be hard to know what to buy. Some key pieces recommended by Business Insider include women's dress shirts and men's standard-fit, no-iron button-down shirts, as well as luxury-touch performance polos. These classics can easily be carried over from season to season. Also recommended by Business Insider are Banana Republic's blazers, which are fitted, high-quality, and even come in petite sizing. Blazers start at $200 on Banana Republic's website and max out at around $750 for leather, silk, and more luxurious long blazers. While shopping expert Trae Bodge explained that blazers are rarely discounted at Banana Republic, teachers and students can take advantage of a 15% discount on full-priced items.

For more party-centric looks, Who What Wear recommends the wildly glamorous Teia Sequin Maxi Dress. Additionally, the cashmere section has received some positive press — not only for its stylish offerings but also for its nice price range and beautiful products (via Who What Wear). Banana Republic has your casual, office, and party ensembles covered.

The heritage collection pays homage to Banana Republic's roots

Any Banana Republic shopper should know about the major glow-up the brand began going through in 2021. As GQ reported, the brand is accomplishing this by offering vintage-inspired pieces. Look no further than the Heritage collection. This capsule collection pulls together Banana Republic's roots and the modern edge of the company. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Banana Republic's chief brand officer Ana Andjelic explained, "When you see someone in Gucci, you know it's Gucci. I want you to be able to see someone and be, like, 'that's Banana Republic.'"

Retail Wire described the Heritage collection as an expansion of what Banana Republic used to be — a "weirdly wonderful safari brand." Some of the absolute best items from the collection include the Heritage Cotton Linen Safari Jacket, Heritage Safari Romper, and Heritage Pleated Cargo Pant (via Stylecaster).

Banana Republic's return policy has changed

When making any purchase, knowing the return policy is important. Especially during the holidays, certain stores tighten their return windows. This is especially the case in 2022, according to CNBC.

At Banana Republic, typical returns and exchanges are free when using a prepaid label. You'll be able to access and print prepaid labels once you start the returns process online. It is also free to return the item in-store. Banana Republic once allowed returns that covered the lifetime of its clothing but in 2022, the company restricted the window of returns to 30 days from the shipping date of an online order or the purchase date of an in-store order.

To make a gift exchange, you can use the same pre-paid label or get help directly in a store to either replace the size or color of the gift or instead receive a gift card that can be used online or in-store. To return a gift by mail, you will need a copy of the original invoice. It's also important to know that you can't return an item from Banana Republic to one of its sister stores (e.g., GAP, Old Navy, etc.) nor to the Banana Republic Factory Store.

Banana Republic offers styling services to its customers

At select locations, Banana Republic offers a unique service known as the BR Atelier, in which a stylist assists you in your shopping experience either virtually or in person. 

When reserving a complimentary atelier appointment, you will be prompted to select a location. From there, you can pick if you'd like to be styled in-store, ask a stylist question online, or schedule a virtual styling. The first option is a 45-minute one-on-one styling session, whereas the quick question session is 15 minutes. This option is for the shopper who mostly knows what they want but could use a little help from a Banana Republic expert. Finally, the virtual styling option is a 45-minute session that can be conducted from the comfort of your home.

Enjoy the customer experience of Banana Republic's free styling expertise and find your most stylish self in the process!