10 Great Ways To Shop For Designer Fashion, At A Discount!

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By Carol Johnson, Featured DM Blogger - May 13, 2015

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I love shopping! As a buyer in a previous life, it was my career of choice. Shopping with other people’s money was even better than shopping with my own and I got to spend a lot more than I could in my normal life. Now that the high life is behind me I still love shopping but now I look at shopping like a treasure hunt and it has become my sport of choice! I know not all women feel this way so I am going to share some of my designer at a discount shopping tips. 

1. Department Store Sales and (even better) Clearance Sales 

Department stores know they have a lot of competition, whether in their own mall or online so they seem to be constantly holding sales. I was in a Nordstrom the other day and they were having 25% off certain lines just to match a sale being held by one of their competitors, that was a surprise! For deeper discounts, clearance sales are great, not as extensive a selection but great prices. So if you don’t mind waiting, shopping at department stores off-season is a good way to save even more money! 

2. Department Store Sister Off-Price Stores 

After any fashion season department stores must make room for new merchandise and some stores have their own outlet stores where they send last season’s merchandise. These stores are Nordstrom Rack, Last Call By Neiman Marcus, Saks Off 5th and Barneys Warehouse to name a few. You can still find the same great clothing but at a lower price than if you had bought it when it first arrived at their main store.

3. Off-Price Retailers

These are stores like T.J. MaxxMarshalls and Ross. They sell name brand merchandise for 20-60% (or more) off retail price. They have the ability to offer great deals in many ways. Sometimes department stores over purchase and/or may be over budget. Manufacturers may have too much merchandise or end of the season closeouts, as well as lots of other ways to bring you tremendous value. I can tell you from experience that these are large nationwide companies that have a lot of purchasing power and are able work directly with manufacturers to negotiate great deals.

4. Outlet Malls and Factory Stores

Shopping here can be confusing, not all stores in outlet malls are outlet stores. Some are merely there for presence, selling the same merchandise you would see in their regular stores. Some are a mixture of both, offering sale merchandise and outlet line merchandise. A good rule to remember is if it is in season merchandise, offered at a lower price, it is very likely to be an outlet only line. Banana Republic and J. Crew outlet stores are examples that offer special lines that are made for their outlet stores.

5. Diffusion Lines or Bridge Lines

These are the secondary lines of a high end fashion designer that retail at a lower price. It’s the DKNY line from Donna Karan, Simply Vera from Vera Wang, T from Alexander Wang and on and on. If you love a designer’s look but really don’t love the higher prices then this is a great alternative.

6. Sample Sales and Warehouse Sales

If you are lucky enough to live in or near a large city then this is a great opportunity to purchase designer fashion at a fraction of the retail price. These sales are usually held in the offices that house company showrooms. A great online site that has alerts for these sales is Racked. They cover New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami. True warehouse sales still exist and to find them my favorite site is: Warehouse Weekends. It seems like almost every weekend there is a warehouse sale somewhere and this site covers every state except Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming which must not have any fashion companies located there. Sorry.

7. Consignment Boutiques

No one keeps their clothing forever. That’s why I adore consignment boutiques. You can own a designer piece at a fraction of what it originally sold for. Every city has them and most have an online presence as well. My favorite has become My Sister’s Closet. It is physically located in Southern California and Arizona but, due to their online store, is available everywhere.

8. Online Consignment/Resale

So many sites, so little time! Great designer deals to be found everywhere. Some that I really like: The Real Real, Shop Hers, Poshmark and Bib and Tuck.

9. Sales Alert Websites

I am not fond of shopping online but with these sites it is hard not to be a fan. The thing I like best about these websites is they can alert you to a specific item you are looking for and when that piece goes on sale they let you know. It’s like having a fashion fairy godmother and who couldn’t use one of those? There are so many to choose from but my favorites are Rack It Up, Shop It To Me and Shoptagr.

10. Online Off-price Sites

Again so many to choose from but the most popular are Gilt and Bluefly. The Outnet (sister on-line outlet to Net-a-Porter), sells different pieces from the same designers than what is offered on their main site.

So get out there, or online because now the world (of fashion) really is our oyster and so many pearls are within our reach! A great tip to remember is that most stores are online too, and if you aren't sure about a website or a store look for customer reviews online.

Happy Shopping!

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