Whether it’s for work or play, it’s always a great idea to buy the best quality clothing you can afford. That’s because, generally, when you pay a little extra you’re going to get a better fabric, cut, or construction. But everybody – and I mean everybody – loves a bargain. If you know how to play it right you can sometimes find that high end style on a budget.

5 tips for buying high end style on a budget:

1.  Find a personal shopper at your favorite department store

If you shop frequently at a particular retailer and for a specific designer, get to know a salesperson in that department. She – or he – will alert you when your favorite designer items are coming on sale. They often will hold something aside for you that they know you would like.

2. High end department stores each have their own discount sites

3. Shop online retail stores

If you order from an online retail store you are pretty much guaranteed to be their new best friend. Your inbox will be flooded daily with updates on their latest sales, and they all have a “sale” page on their website. Also, there are online outlets for specific labels (e.g., CoachTommy Hilfiger, J. Crew). When you do a search on the name of your favorite retailer just add “outlet.” You’ll likely get a listing of their bricks and mortar outlet stores but if they have an online one, that version will show up too.

4. High end resale sites do exist

There are some high end resale sites that offer couture and pricier items at prices comparable with eBay.

5. Take advantage of overstock merchandise through “collection” websites

Finally, there are several outlet “collection” websites that partner with design houses or retailers who want to unload overstock merchandise. But heads up: just as with bricks and mortar outlets, many of these items are not regular merchandise on sale but cheaper, schlock-y stuff manufactured just for these websites. But if you have the time – and the patience – to sort through the weeds you can find some real gems.

My somewhat “short list” of some of these “collection” websites:

  • 6pm.com: Zappo’s answer to department store outlets. Some good deals here, including an epic amount of jeans.
  • Bluefly: carries items from over 40 higher-end (and some mid-level) designers but unless you want a pre-owned handbag, you won’t find any Chanel…sigh (anyone out there know of a Chanel outlet?)
  • Century 21: (Not the realtor…) From pricier (but limited number) designer things to super cheap.
  • Gilt: The granddaddy of the genre: from very high end to affordable.
  • Lyst: Mostly designer items at full price but has a sale page that re-directs you to other sites for high-end sale items.
  • Ruelala: High quality name brands and designer items, limited amounts.
  • The Outnet: (My personal downfall) heavily discounted designer and in-house brand. This is net-a-porter’s discount wing.
  • Yoox: As many full-price as discounted (40-70%) designer items. I love that they show available sizes right on the thumbnail images.

It seems like more of these types of sites come online every month. If you sign up for one, you might suddenly find yourself receiving popup ads for similar sites. Yes, they’re annoying, but sometimes they can be very useful.

Today, more than ever, it is easy to find high end style on a budget. Happy bargain shopping!

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About The Author

Andrea Pflaumer is the author of Shopping for the Real You, and She’s Got Good Jeans. For fourteen years she was a contributing editor to the East Bay Monthly, the San Francisco Examiner and Oakland Magazine for whom she wrote their Shopping Around, Shop Talk and arts and culture features. She offers style consultations and blogs through her website. She’s currently working on a sequel to her first book with her color and style mentor, John Kitchener, Director of Personal Style Counselors.