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We Explore the Citadel So You Don't Have To

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We Did It For Science is our semi-regular feature in which we offer ourselves up as retail guinea pigs. All for your benefit.

Does this thing look like it needs to have a moat around it or what? Image via Discover LA

Chances are good that you've driven by the Citadel Outlets about a million times, but it's never occurred to you to check them out. You know the Citadel, that huge stone-looking building, right about where the 5 and the 710 freeways come together, that looks like a medieval fortress or some weird factory complex? You've probably wondered about it, but then dismissed it on the basis of those LED billboards that are always advertising three shirts for $20 at some store you've never heard of, or a casting call for the Biggest Loser. But then you think, could it be all bad? A mall that size ought to have at least a little sumthin'-sumthin' for the discerning tastes of the typical Racked LA reader, right?

Just so you know, that big stone wall is actually more or less a facade. It's not some big building, the stores are all outside, behind the stone building. The center doesn't have a department store anchor -- no Off Fifth, Last Call, not even a Sears, Target or Burlington Coat Factory. Just a bunch of shops and a food court.

There are a lot of cheapie, teeny stores. Like Justice, and that ilk. If you're a total fashion ninja, you can probably figure out how to pull an outfit together. Or if you're into leggings made from fabrics so cheap, they're practically semi-transparent, go here.

The mall caters to what we're guessing is a pretty meat-and-potatoes crowd. Some of the more popular outlets include Puma, Old Navy, Gap, Skechers and Tommy Hilfiger -- and they're popular to the point of inducing claustrophobia on the weekends. A few odd choices are there, too. (Remember United Colors of Benetton and Esprit?) And then stores, like BCBG, BCBGirls, Banana Republic, Vince Camuto, that should have been good?

?but weren't.

It's not that the brands there are bad. Case in point: the last time we visited the Cabazon Outlets, we visited Juicy and found a lot of the same very cute merchandise that was available at Saks, Bloomie's and Neiman Marcus earlier in the season. But this Juicy is wall-to-wall tracksuits. It's like the feminine corollary to Ed Hardy -- yes, there's one of those here, too, and it was going OFF. Ok, a few dresses thrown in (most of them were terrycloth) but it's definitely not?er, how to say this politely, the most fashion-forward collection. Ditto for BCBG and H&M -- brands you know are good, but how to explain the assortment of bland or sorry looking dresses?

We spent a couple of hours, desperate to find something, ANYTHING to plunk down some cash on. And finally, we found Lancome Juicy Tubes for $7 and bought a couple of those. If you've got some time to kill, or you have some company (that you're not particularly fond of) who want to do some outlets, it's worth checking out.
· Citadel Outlets [Official Site]