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Summertime Sales: Where the Buys Are : Bargains: The price is right at a variety of stores. Marked down 30-50% are items like bell-bottoms, halter tops and designer outfits.


The malls and department stores are busy with summer sales. But where are the good buys? The great temptations? The "steals"? Earlier this week we perused several locations to find out.

The Bullock's sale should not be missed. At the Beverly Center branch, all the women's departments have markdowns of 30% to 50%. Those long, floral-print dresses lots of women are wearing this summer are available in every size, at $96, down from $128.

Wild and trendy dressers should look for a rack of Anna Sui designs, hidden in the back of the sportswear area on the second floor. A pair of yellow striped bell-bottoms, decorated with buttons, size 10, are $84, down from $140. A matching jacket, size 10, was $175 and is now $105.

The biggest bargains are in the designer department, where prices are 40% and 50% off. A black crepe Donna Karan jacket with epaulets, size 12, was $1,250 and is now $625. A green Armani suit, size 8, with a crystal pleated skirt was $1,210 and is marked down to $726. Some days the store offers specially added cut rates of up to 40% beyond the already reduced price. These added reductions may be in effect for just a few days at a time. To find out more, call the store.

The best of the Broadway's markdowns are in the junior department on the first floor of the Beverly Center store. Esprit's cotton lace-up hot pants in olive, burgundy or black were $42. Now they're $25. Black cotton knit jogging pants with suspenders were $56, but are now $40. Black denim wire bra tops are now $40, down from $56. Matching shorts are $20, down from $32. And bold awning-stripe flared jeans are $35, down from $52.

At Robinsons-May, the best buys are in women's swimwear and men's shoes. If you still haven't found a bathing suit this summer, now's the time to get one. They're marked down 25% to 50% during the Swim Price Break Sale at all the branch stores.

At the Beverly Hills store, a navy one-piece suit by Ann Cole has shadow stripes in net. It was $66, and is now $33. Another sophisticated suit, by Gottex, is black with gold, nautical details. It was $97, and is now $48.50. Mid-week, there was still a full range of sizes, up to size 18, in many suits.

Men's shoes--dress, casual and even sneakers--are marked down in some branch stores, including Beverly Hills, Cerritos, La Puente and Del Amo. There is nearly a full range of sizes, and prices are down as much as 80%. At the Beverly Hills store, Ferragamo tassel loafers were $86, but now they're $43. Black wingtips by Johnson & Murphy were $133, and are now $66. White bucks by Cole-Haan were $132, but have been marked down to $66. And Ralph Lauren sneakers, once $38, are now $19. Nike sneakers were $94, and are now $47. And Reeboks were $42, and are now $36.

Nordstrom in the Westside Pavilion has bargains all over the store. If you have $300 or $400 to invest on a top designer label, check the second-floor designer section. Most prices have been slashed to little more than half.

A heather-blue jacket, size 12, from Joseph Abboud's spring collection was $850, and is now $339. A black linen tunic, size 4 or 8, by Claude Montana was $950, and is now $359. An apricot cashmere blazer, size 14, by Escada is down from $1,600 to $639.

In women's lower-priced sportswear, Calvin Klein's CK tan and white seersucker suit, size 14, is something to look for. The belted jacket was $310, but is now $155. A matching ankle-length wrap-around skirt was $170, and is now $85. Everything is 50% off. But if you find a jacket in your size, you will be lucky to find the skirt or pants in the same size.

The Limited sale, in all stores, is unusual. If there is a red line through the price tag, take 40% off. Not everything is marked down, and the red-line items change from week to week.

Best buys early this week included rayon linen halter vests and matching skirts, down from $44 to $26, in wedgewood blue, white and beige. Silk short-sleeve blouses in a range of bright colors are all $15, down from $46-$49.

In the Foxhills Mall, some of the best buys are for teens. Buy one/get one free seems to be a popular way to go, mallwide. At the Charlotte Russe boutique, long, festive Indian-print skirts are two for $19.99. At Oaktree, good-looking summer shorts and summer tops are now $9.97. And there are tons of them. At Coda, another young men's shop, some labels are marked down as much as 50%--Karl Kanai, Cross Colours and Guess included. Kanai oversized shorts are now $50, from $72. Coda has shorts at two for $40 and tops at two for $20.

It's worth calling your favorite store to get sale updates, because prices in several stores are being reduced, raised and reduced again every few days. Sale prices can change from one day to the next.

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