Exactly How to Afford Designer Clothes Without a Benefactor

How to Afford Designer Clothes

Frugality and designer clothes. Sounds like an oxymoron, right?

But what if I told you that there are ways to rock designer clothes without wrecking your budget?

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar: you’re flipping through Vogue and see a super cute jacket. But then your heart plummets: the super cute jacket costs $1,000. With an outrageous price tag like this, it’s easy to feel discouraged and think designer clothes are out of reach. That they’re just for rich celebrities, and not for “people like you.” Or, after going out and noticing the fifth Céline bag in one day, you wonder: how DOES everyone afford all this luxury stuff?

Yeah, I’ve been there, too. A few years ago I came across a Proenza Schouler tie dye T-shirt I fell in love with. But I hated the price point. Two hundred and eighty freaking dollars??!! For some, that’s chump change, but for most people (including me) that’s way too expensive. Tissue cotton T-shirts are delicate by nature, and the coolest design in the world won’t extend the life of a fabric that’s not meant to last.

So for normal people like you and me, what are we supposed to do if we have discerning tastes? Just settle for clothes we don’t even want? That kind of seems like the fast track to a closet that looks like this:

Messy closet from Clueless.
Buying things you don’t want creates a cycle of bad shopping.

No thanks.

PSA: Mall Clothes Aren’t That Cheap

Besides settling on buying clothes you don’t love, the other problem is that your ‘go-to’ mall clothes are EXPENSIVE now. Wait, what?

Let’s look at Exhibit A, B and C.
Mall Clothes Are Too Expensive
Those seemingly affordable storesthe Banana Republics, the Club Monacos, the Madewellsnow sell items that can set you back hundreds of dollars. What many don’t seem to realize is that for about the same price of what you’d get at the mall you can actually get a designer piece. So, if you bought that dress in Exhibit A for $148, I’m telling you that you could buy a designer dress for a comparable amount. I’ll show you specifics a little later.

But for now, let me ask you: Would you rather have a Miu Miu dress or one from Banana Republic? I know which one I’d choose.

The Secret to Buying Designer Clothes for Less

Just like with personal finance, the critical path to scoring deals on designer clothes is not about making a Wall Street salary, nor is it cashing in on the Bank of Mom or Dad.

It’s about your HABITS.

Here’s a result of those habits: Last year I spent less than $900 on clothes, no benefactor needed, and while maintaining a healthy savings rate. Skeptical still? Remember that $280 T-shirt I talked about before? My equally frugal friend (we travel in packs) bought it for me for just $32 (I paid her back via Venmo).

Proenza Schouler Tie Dye T-Shirt
My Proenza Schouler shirt I got for 90% off.

Four Habits for Shopping Smarter than Most Everyone Else

1. Buy less, not more.

Say you currently buy five fast fashion items a month. When you make the move to buy designer this doesn’t give you free reign to continue with the same shopping frequency. Your purchases should be reduced, because in theory, you’re holding out for what you really love. It’s June, and I’ve bought 5 items this year, and am tracking to buy no more than 12 items the entire year.

2. Avoid paying retail at all costs.

Just because that jacket retails for $1,000 doesn’t mean that paying that price is the only way to get it. Half the battle of acquiring higher-end clothes is RECOGNIZING that almost everything can be bought for less. A couple rules of thumb:

  • Most items will eventually go on sale for least 40% off.
  • Popular items never go on sale, but you’ll still be able to score at least 20% off in many instances.

Which leads me to the next point…

3. She who waits, wins.

You’ve heard that saying that patience is a virtue. Well, never has delayed gratification been more rewarding than buying designer clothes for less. Savvy shoppers never ever buy clothes when they first show up in stores. They take note of said item, do research, and then they wait, often for months, for their coveted items to go on sale, or for secondhand items to show up online. If instant gratification is your vice, then saving money on designer clothes will be a challenge for you.

4. Show up and do the work.

You’re going to need a healthy dose of grit. If you can’t find the item you want discounted at Barneys, then you try Saks. And if it’s not at Saks, then you’ll try Shopbop. If the Shopbop website is acting up, you get on the phone and actually talk to a customer service rep. I’ve been able to get almost anything I want by simply being diligent.

The Ultimate Guide for How and Where to Shop

Now that we have the basic principles down, here’s a retail roadmap of my 8 top ways I’ve scored designer goods for less. To further illustrate my points, I’ve hand-selected my favorite deals up for grabs right now, PLUS price breakdowns so you can see exactly how much you’d save.

1. Online Consignment – The Real Real

Shopping secondhand will yield some of the best deals you’ll ever find. I’ve been buying from thrift stores since I was a teenager, so for me, secondhand is an easy win. I prioritize lightly used, higher-quality clothes versus mediocre brand-new clothes any day of the week. Think about it: everything brand new (cars, diamonds, etc.) depreciates like hell the second you bring them home. While clothes don’t depreciate quite as quickly, retailers encourage us to buy new by constantly churning out cheaper and trendier clothes. But the savvy shopper knows that for higher-quality clothes, used is the way to go. Anything with holes/tears, stains and more than light wear is obviously a no go. Everything else is fair game.

For brand variety, consistently desirable selections, and fair pricing, The Real Real is my favorite online luxury consignment shop. As shown below, the biggest problem here is that you can find so many gems, it’s hard to choose the best ones. Instead of browsing by category type, I focus my searches on brands that work best for me. And I usually can find most things I want from past seasons here, if I look often enough. The site is “members only”, but all you have to do is create an account to browse and you’ll get a $25 credit off your first purchase.

Pro Tips:

  • They always have a 20% coupon code right at the top of the website you can use.
  • You can return clothes, but not swimwear, handbags, luggage or any items discounted by 40% or more. Make sure you read the fine print before checking out.
  • Besides the coupon code you can use for almost anything, they’ll regularly discount merchandise to 20% off. Note: if an item is marked down already, you can’t stack the 20% off coupon on top.

EXAMPLE DEALS

How to Afford Designer Clothes - The Real Real
1. 3.1 Phillip Lim Beaded Floral Dress 2. Equipment Striped Shirtdress 3. Ann Demeulemeester Asymmetrical Jersey Dress 4. 3.1 Phillip Lim Ivory Jumpsuit 5. Marni Plaid Skirt 6. Proenza Schouler Printed T-Shirt 7. Equipment Black Silk Shirt 8. Tory Burch Halter Bikini Bathing Suit 9. Comme des Garçons Wallet 10. Yves Saint Laurent Ankle Boots
The Real Real Savings Breakdown
Item Actual Price Retail Price Percent Savings Notes
3.1 Phillip Lim Beaded Floral Dress $90 $500+ 82% off
Equipment Striped Shirtdress $76 $260 70% off
Ann Demeulemeester Asymmetrical Jersey Dress $76 $455 83% off
3.1 Phillip Lim Ivory Jumpsuit $95 $500 81% off
Marni Plaid Skirt $68 $470 85% off
Proenza Schouler Printed T-Shirt $56 $280 80% off
Equipment Black Silk Shirt $52 $228 77% off
Tory Burch Halter Bikini Bathing Suit $95 $210 55% off New with tags
Comme des Garçons Wallet $75 $225 66% off The forever wallet
Yves Saint Laurent Ankle Boots $100 $600+ 83% off

2. Set Up Passive Searches on eBay

I’ve been eBay-ing since high school, and it still doesn’t disappoint. Unlike The Real Real, there’s a ton of crap to wade through, so eBay works best when you know exactly what you’re looking for. For example, I’ll search for the designer name I like, plus one or two qualifying words:

“Phillip Lim XS”
“Isabel Marant Sweatshirt”

Pro Tip:

I “follow” my favorite searches so I don’t have to waste time manually searching when I remember to. Then I move on with my life and wait for alerts to pop up on my phone. Using this tip, I got all my wedding clothes for massive discounts on eBay.

EXAMPLE DEALS

How to Afford Designer Clothes - eBay
1. 3.1 Phillip Lim Denim Martini Sandals 2. Reed Krakoff City Pouch 3. Lela Rose The Pond Wedding Dress 4. Miu Miu Black Silk Pleated Dress 5. Prism Santa Margarita Bandeau Bikini
eBay Savings Breakdown
Item Actual Price Retail Price Percent Savings Notes
3.1 Phillip Lim Denim Martini Sandals $95 $495 80% off New
Reed Krakoff City Pouch $73 $200+ 73% off New without tags
Lela Rose The Pond Wedding Dress $400 $3995 90% off
Miu Miu Black Silk Pleated Dress $174 $1000+ 83% off
Prism Santa Margarita Bandeau Bikini $57 $325 82% off New with tags

3. Check Online Outlets

If shopping at Barneys and Saks is too rich for your blood, remember they have annex stores for closeouts and leftover merchandise. Wait until the end of the season and try the clearance arms of the top three luxury e-commerce sites:

Pro Tip:

Of the three, The Outnet yields the most interesting selection, and is a must-visit if you’re in the market for a modern wedding dress.

EXAMPLE DEALS

How to Afford Designer Clothes - Online Outlets
1. Rag & Bone Merino Wool Sweater 2. Proenza Schouler Black Skinny Jeans 3. Barneys New York Oxblood Leather Wallet
Online Outlets Savings Breakdown
Item Actual Price Retail Price Percent Savings Notes
Rag & Bone Merino Wool Sweater $70 $395 82% off
Proenza Schouler Black Skinny Jeans $97 $275 65% off
Barneys New York Oxblood Leather Wallet $49 $120 59% off

4. Don’t Forget the Indie Stores

Everyone knows the big-name department stores. But that means there’s more competition during mega sales. A couple times when I’ve tried to buy something from Barneys’ 60% off sale, the inventory evaporated before I could even complete the purchase. Here are my top independent stores whose inventory often overlaps with the more well-known stores, and who run sales discounting items by 40% or more:

Pro-Tip:

Sign up for their emails to get the heads up whenever there’s a sale, and for unlocking ‘new subscriber’ coupon codes.

EXAMPLE DEALS

How to Afford Designer Clothes - Indie Stores
1. Rachel Comey Black Booties 2. Creatures of Comfort Blue Pouch 3. Woman by Common Projects Blush Sneakers 4. Isaac Reina Navy Blue Double Tote Bag 5. Alexander Wang Grey Skinny Jeans
Indie Stores Savings Breakdown
Item Actual Price Retail Price Percent Savings Notes
Rachel Comey Black Booties $171 $426 60% off
Creatures of Comfort Blue Pouch $78 $195 60% off
Woman by Common Projects Blush Sneakers $197 $375 48% off With extra 25% code
Isaac Reina Navy Blue Double Tote Bag $284 $710 60% off This is exceptional in person
Alexander Wang Grey Skinny Jeans $106 $265 60% off

5. If You’re in the US, International Prices Can Be a Pleasant Surprise

Once you find something you like, don’t forget to compare prices. A good place to start is to search for the item on Google Shopping. Check it out: I’m looking at these sandals from A.P.C., a brand based in Paris. Here are the search results when I plug in the item name in the search field:

A.P.C. Paula Flatforms Google Shopping Search

See something interesting? On the left is the pair of shoes on the US A.P.C. website for $435. On the right is the SAME EXACT PAIR from ModeSens for $312. That’s a difference of over $100! When I click on the ModeSens link, I get taken to the British online shop, Matches Fashion. $312 price confirmed, per the screenshot below.

A.P.C. Paula Flatforms Matches Fashion

So how could the pricing for the same exact item vary so wildly? Matches Fashion is a British website, thus, part of the European Union. The European Union collects a value added tax, or the VAT, on goods sold within the EU. This tax ranges from 17% to 27%, depending on the country. Since I live outside of the EU, I actually don’t have to pay this tax, which automatically brings down the prices.

Top international online shops to cross-reference:


6. Take Advantage of Friends and Family Sales

Sometimes the item you want is so popular, it annoyingly never goes on sale. For these cases, a good option to have in your back pocket is Friends and Family sales. During these sales, shops will give you a coupon code, ranging from 20-25% off, for almost anything in the store.

Pro-Tip:

Here’s a list of stores where I can typically take advantage of these sales, plus the discounts they usually offer. Make sure you subscribe to the shop emails, so you’re always in the know:


7. Stay on Top of Sample Sales

If you live in a major city like New York City or Los Angeles, sample sales are your best friend. As my friends attest, some of the very best deals can be had with this option. But you have to actually know when these sales are happening. Subscribe to these sites to keep up:

Pro-Tip:

If you don’t want to constantly check the sale pages for updates, follow sample sale sites on social media. Every morning there’s a sale, they’ll let you know.


8. Follow Your Favorite Designers on Social Media

Sometimes your favorite designers have sales at their own standalone stores. To minimize FOMO, follow them on social media. The platforms I’d use are Instagram or Facebook. There are a couple of brands I follow on Twitter, but Twitter moves so fast, it’s easy to miss tweets. By following Leanne Marshall on Instagram, that’s how I found out about a last-minute bridal sample sale.

The Four Shopping Mistakes to Avoid

Now that you have the list of stores and strategies, it’s time to shop ’till you drop, right? Not so fast. I wouldn’t be responsible if I just let you loose in all the stores. Clothes are emotional buys, so it’s easy to overspend if you’re not careful. To keep your cool while shopping, follow these four tips:

1. Don’t shop mindlessly.

You know how you make a plan for your money? Yeah, do that same thing for the clothes you buy. Think of the holes in your current wardrobe, then track them somewhere, either in an Excel spreadsheet, the notes app on your phone, or Pinterest (what I use). Sit with those wants for a little bit before pulling the trigger. You want to make sure your purchases are intentional.

2. Don’t buy just for the label.

Just because a T-shirt has ‘Gucci’ emblazoned on it doesn’t mean it’s high quality. Don’t fall for the misconception that just because something is expensive or from your favorite brand, that you should buy it. I know a T-shirt from Alexander Wang that costs $80 is not worth my time when I can get something similar at Old Navy for $8. Discern by the fabric, design, and durability, and reserve your designer purchases for items that are epic.

3. Don’t buy for who you want to be.

Be realistic and buy based on your current lifestyle and needs, not for who you want to become someday. I work in a casual environment, so buying a fancy dress doesn’t fit into my lifestyle. Embrace who you really are. If you are a jeans person, focus on elevating your jeans to the best possible, but don’t bother fussing over dresses if they aren’t your thing.

4. Don’t buy just because there’s a deal.

So you found a pair of rainbow-colored drop crotch pants for $50, marked down from $500. You think, I gotta have itthese are a steal. Never mind that you can’t really think of where you’d wear them. Or whether they fit in with other clothes in your closet. Finding an awesome deal makes you feel good. I get it. But unless the item makes sense, let it go.

Final Takeaways

Affording designer clothes is a lot more accessible than you probably think. As shown in the charts above, by shopping strategically, designer items can be had for at least 40% off, and often at similar price points as clothes from the mall. When you look at it that way, designer clothes can be the smartest shopping decisions you’ll ever make.

So, tell me, what are your tips for designer clothes for less? How do you afford it?

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  • Jane @ Cash Fasting

    YES. This is the guide that all of us didn’t know we needed.
    I feel like I’m completely missing out by not staying on top of sample sales; how have I not been to one since moving to NYC a year ago?? Changing that ASAP.
    This is def one of the best clothes shopping guide I’ve seen in YEARS, thanks for sharing!

    • Ha! I just got tired of people saying they couldn’t afford this and that. Also, I had to spend hours online shopping to put this together. So kind of a win-win, hehe.

      Glad you thought it was helpful!

  • I have zero designer items, but I’m pleasantly surprised by the example prices / deals! I’m on the larger side, though, so most designers don’t design for me in mind. :/

    I’ve had good luck with a local smalltime designer. My favorite dress was $50 on a promotion, and she literally drove to my house and pinned it on me, so it fits perfect. Even full price, her dresses are, like, $90, so quite affordable for a great quality, perfectly fitted dress.

    Love the advice for following the search on eBay, so you don’t bed to keep manually checking. I do this with Craigslist if there’s something in particular I’m looking for (e.g. “Elliptical”).

    • Hey, designer stuff isn’t everyone’s thing, and that’s totally cool. But yeah, sizing is a legit problem, especially as it isn’t standardized at all. I actually find the higher end stuff to fit me better because I’m a small fry and the sizes tend to be more specific, like 0,2,4, instead of an XS, which is too general.

      Sounds like you got the ultimate designer score: $50 for them to go to your house is unheard of!

      Yes, saved searches are amazing. I’ve used it on Craigslist, too and have barely paid full price for furniture.

  • “Don’t buy for who you want to be.” Oh my goodness yes! It’s like you read my mind. I did this for so many years and it’s how I ended up with a closet full of clothes and ‘nothing to wear’ (and jumpstarted my minimalist journey). If people were honest with themselves about what their lives actually looked like, their spending habits would change dramatically, and not just on clothes!

    • I’m convinced that what kids need in school is not a personal finance class, but a class about introspection. If we all just knew ourselves just a little bit better…

  • Your Average Dough

    I’m very into fashion and designer clothing, but here is how I afford it (some of ours overlap):

    1) I almost exclusively buy items from outlet counterparts of other stores. My faves are SaksOff5th and Last Call NM, in particular, but Marshall’s and TJMaxx can also be great.
    2) If I want something that is full price and cannot stand the waiting for sales or coupons, I use a gift card.
    3) I have someone else buy it for me. NOT like a sugar daddy, but I request specific designer items as gifts or ask for gift cards to specific stores in order to obtain them.
    4) I don’t buy designer items only. I like to mix and match. I’ll pair an Express dress with a pair of Valentinos.
    5) Utilizing credit card points and/or eBates to get cash back. If you shop through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can often get more than 1% cash back. Our Amex Blue Cash Preferred also often runs deals for $X cash back if you spend $X.
    6) Lastly, I budget for clothing purchases!

    Great post, as always 🙂

    • Thanks for chiming in with your own tips!

      Have you ever been to Woodbury Commons? It’s hit or miss (esp as I have no car), but once I got amazing deals (like, 90% off) at Barneys Warehouse. In general, I love outlets, but here in the city they tend to be picked over because, hello #competition.

      I like the idea of asking for something nice as a gift. My birthday is actually coming up, and my SO is like, umm, why haven’t you updated your Pinterest???

      I think shoes are more important than dresses, so that’s the perfect high-low mix. Like you can have the plainest, cheapest outfit, but if you have a nice shoe, it’s instantly elevated.

      And YES, perfect tip on the credit card rewards. I almost included it but thought the post was long enough. My favorite is Discover It. I actually saved money on a Canada Goose jacket that way, and felt so victorious, because you know those suckers NEVER go on sale.

      • Your Average Dough

        Yes I love Woodbury! My sister actually lives 10 mins from there, so I just met her there about 3 weeks ago. As you said it’s hit or miss depending when you are looking for, but as far as getting some new outfits and designer sunglasses for Italy, it was GREAT! 🙂

        I absolutely agree about shoes being more important. I’m a shoe lover.

        Woo! A deal on a Canada Goose jacket is incredible!

  • Finance Patriot

    This is a great post. Any tips on how my wife can buy a new LV purse without the silly prices she’s been showing me for a new one ($1400 for example)?

    I love Ebay, have found some good new jackets there. One thing we recently did was we shopped for Fall/Winter coats in June. This is a fantastic time to score North Face and Patagonia at 50% off, brand new. Not a sole in the world is shopping for cold weather clothes when it’s 90 and sunny, like it is here right now in TN.

    Also, for eye glasses, I decided we’d go the Warby Parker route. I love the look, and at $95/pair, prices can’t be beat (and FSA eligible for prescription glasses). Sure I could have bought cheaper and cheaply made glasses from Zenni, but I always liked the idea of buying the superior materials and designs from Warby instead.

    For kids clothes, building relationships with spendy neighbors has been a windfall for us. We have gotten very nice name brand clothes, many hardly used or never used, as “gifts” or hand me downs. In return we have given them gift cards or gifts, but these are way nicer items than we would ever buy on our own at full retail prices, like these neighbors did.

    • How to Afford an LV Bag for Less: travel hack you and your wife to Paris and buy the bag from a store there. It will be several hundred dollars cheaper due to the VAT refund. Plus, it’s Paris!

      Yeah, eBay is a goldmine! You just have to dig around. And I’m a season-less shopper, as well. I don’t give two shits if I just bought a sweater in 90 degree weather. And the lack of competition you cited is another benefit to shopping out of season.

      I have a pair of Warbys, too! But I guess everyone does. I’d be worried a Zenni pair would fall apart in an instant. Meanwhile, I’ve fallen asleep and rolled over on my Warbys so many times, and they’re still going strong. I def don’t think they are the BEST quality but perfectly fine for at-home glasses.

      Lucky to have spendy neighbors! I’ve asked my sister to keep her baby stuff, just in case.

  • LC

    Thanks Luxe Strategist!!! Awesome article!!

    • Glad you liked it! I spent a lot of time on it because I wanted it to be super useful.

  • Late to the party as far as commenting but wanted to share:

    Another tip is look at the Atkins Retail Calendar. A lot of department stores are on this calendar for accounting and yearly comparison reasons. It shift the calendar to start in February and also changes the weeks a bit. This means that the quarters end in April, July, September, and January is the yearly end. Look for sales at the end of these months as retailers are trying to boost sales and reduce inventory. January and July being the biggest sales due to end of season/year months.

    Great article as always Luxe! I learned a few new tricks for Christmas shopping for my wife, and let’s be honest, me as well.

    • Hi Cameron,

      Thanks for that insider retail tip! I’ve definitely noticed a pattern to sales, and my favorite time (not on the calendar) is waking up on Christmas morning. Not because of gifts (I stopped giving/receiving them), but because there’s always a really good sale at Barneys and Saks. So basically, I shop a few weeks prior to pick what I want, then I zoom in on Christmas morning. Merry Christmas to meeeeee.

  • Wow this was like 3 articles in one! Fantastic detail! This is definitely your passion girl.

    I set up passive searches on eBay before but never for clothes. Shoes yes 😀 I don’t have a single piece of designer clothes. I buy the Aliexpress clothes that come in just one size (completely easy because I am that size!) I never have to worry about sizing haha. There’s not enough pink ruffles and laces on American stuff. The Korean and Japanese designs are soooo cute too. Do you have any online vendors for those stores?

    • Girl, I had two more sections to this post which I removed, because I was like, this is already too long!

      The only Asian online store I know if is Yes Style, but sometimes I see cute Asian stuff pop up on eBay, so def check there.

      On average lately, I’ve been buying 10-12 things per year. I’m always so curious about other people’s shopping habits. I usually just try to replace existing stuff. Or if I’m buying a lot of stuff lately I’ll just try to sell or donate a few items. That way the shopping doesn’t get out of control. I decide an item is worth it if:
      -The item quality seems to match the asking price
      -The item goes with multiple items in my closet
      -I’ve slept on the purchase (not an impulse)
      -The item fills a legit hole in my closet. Like, if you already have 3 black t shirts, no, you don’t need another expensive one.
      -If the item has resale value. That’s a big one for me.

  • Wow, I didn’t even see this post before I sent you that e-mail!

    This is totally in line with my online shopping strategy.

    1- I love the Real Real for clothes, some of their sizing can be hit or miss (i.e. I bought a blouse that said medium and it was really an FR34 (an XS) — luckily I can go between 34-38 in Isabel Marant). I follow Isabel Marant searches and find the prices SO much better than what’s on Vestiaire or eBay.

    2- I also have my eBay alerts set up for pieces I’ve missed. Especially for 2007-2010 Kate Moss Topshop and 2008 APC Madras. And a pair of Opening Ceremony sandals that I wish I had bought a second pair of in 2009…. My style hasn’t changed a lot in 10 years, apparently.

    3- I’ve found the need to be careful with The Outnet. They also do that thing that a lot of outlets do: sell merchandise that wasn’t necessarily in stores. I’ve been burned twice because of that (one a pair of shoes was an inch higher than the original, the other the sunglasses just fell straight off my face). Now I only buy pieces that are identical to what I’ve seen on Net-A-Porter.

    4- During sale season, I find that ShopStyle can be so helpful. You’re right, the bigger stores will probably sell out, but the smaller ones (ShopStyle picks up *some* of them) still have it. That’s the best part of online shopping — there’s always bound to be one store out of the hundreds out there that has what you want.

    5- The currency price shopping is so important. Doing some research on smaller boutiques in Canada or Europe and seeing if they have online stores that Google shopping or ShopStyle haven’t picked up is also a good idea. What I do is go on APC or Isabel Marant’s site and look for a list of stores in those countries.

    Loved this post!

    • Ohhhh, I thought the e-mail was in RESPONSE to this post. Oops!

      Yeah, I had a section about ‘places not to shop’, but removed it last minute. Yep, and Vestiaire was on there. I think their prices are too high, and a lot of times, the items look too worn.

      OMG I totally remember that APC collection! Sometimes I wonder if it’s weird to covet things from, like 7 years ago. I got a pair of Dries Van Noten shorts that I saw from the runway from 2008. Fast forward to 2016, and I STILL wanted them. I finally found them on eBay but I tricked myself into thinking I’m a size 36…Glad I’m not the only one who obsesses about items from decades past! But now I think it’s really because you truly admire the item for its merits, and not because it’s a passing trend.

      Yes, I saw the Outnet had stuff from ‘Iris and Ink’ and promptly ignored that brand because I didn’t recognize it and assumed it a sub-par brand. I haven’t the experience of second-quality items, but that’s a good watch-out. I’ll add it.

      I find there isn’t one definitive search engine for sales. Google Shopping has some; Shop Style has others. But I’ve gotten to a point where I feel like I recognize most stores that carry the brands I like.

      Yes, European stores are a hidden gem! Checking the brand’s store list is actually a great tip. I’ll add that, too.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • BrooklynBread

    This is a good post. I am clicking on everything!

    • Thanks! I spent too many hours on it, so that makes me happy.

      Also, The Real Real is having 40% off on a ton of gorgeous stuff today…

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  • Lauren

    Awesome article. Thank you for going so in-depth!

    • Hi Lauren,

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you found it useful–I made sure to spend a lot of time on it so it was as practical as possible!

  • Mireille Cecil

    These are basically the habits I’ve developed independently. I’d also add that the construction of a lot of older garments is far superior to even a few contemporary lines today–It’s worth going out of your way to search for silk blouses and wool sweaters at Goodwill. I have a wardrobe full of lovely silk blouses, linen dresses and cashmere that all look modern and expensive that I’ve probably paid a cumulative $100 for over the years. The key is to also have good rehab tools on hand–stain sticks (read the directions according to fabric!), fabric shavers and a garment steamer. Take care of your quality goods an they can last forever.

    • Hi Mireille,

      I’m right with you on all of your points. I grew up shopping at thrift stores, although I don’t know where you’re shopping, but I’ve only found a designer item ONCE. I don’t shop thrift here in NYC because they are all picked over and too expensive. But yes, I do have some lovely, high-quality items that are truly vintage. I have an old Barneys cashmere sweater that just doesn’t pill. Meanwhile, any cashmere sweater I buy now (no matter the price), will pill in just a few wears. And I’m so obsessive about taking care of my things. But I think part of it is because I genuinely enjoy fashion as temporary art.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  • alwaysconservative

    I just discovered your blog and am going through all the archived articles, so I’m sorry for the lateness of this comment. I haven’t read all of the comments so apologies if I repeat.

    Some of the designers online sites have sales that are fabulous. Last week Ralph Lauren had a 30% off their already 50% marked down prices. If you like that label, you could get some real steals, especially in basics like button down shirts, tee shirts, etc. Additionally Nordstrom is currently right in the midst of their annual anniversary sale and it has some seriously good prices. Plus it isn’t all old stuff. It has some new fall items also. I don’t live close to one but when I visit my son in Cincinnati, I try to get to Nordstrom Rack to see what deals I can find there.
    Thanks for a great post and all the suggested places to check out.

    • Hi again,

      You bring up a great point. Some of the actual designer websites do have excellent sales. I do know of the Nordstrom sale, and there are some nice deals on stuff that never goes on sale!

      We have a Nordstrom Rack here in the city, but I find the prices to be a bit too high. But I’m sure ones in other parts of the country probably have better deals!

      Thank you for stopping by!