1. Sample sales
If you’re fortunate enough to live near a large city, sample sales are a must for finding bargains on designer merchandise. Most designers will have sample sales once or twice a year to clear out their inventory. Many of these take place in large warehouses, and items are placed on tables or in boxes and, although they can be crazy, there are always amazing deals to be had — not to mention they’re a lot of fun! Most sample sales offer savings up to 75 percent off retail prices. Last year I hit up the Fashion Industry Gallery sample sale in Dallas and spotted Tory Burch sunglasses for $55! Some sample sales such as the annual Lilly Pulitzer sale in Oaks, Pennsylvania are so famous that folks drive in from all over the country to attend them, which sounds like a pretty awesome girls’ weekend to me! To find sample sales, search online for sales in your city, or check out Warehouse Weekends, which lists sales by state.
2. Sample Sites
If you aren’t able to make it to any brick-and-mortar sample sales, check out the next best thing — sample-sale sites! The premise of these websites is simple – each day a new sale begins and offers select merchandise from a particular designer at a discount. Although a few years ago only one or two of these sites existed, they are now popping up all over the place! These sites include Gilt, Ideeli, Hautelook, Rue La La, Beyond the Rack and JackThreads, which is exclusively for men. These sites procure products from high-end designers and typically offer them at discounts of up to 70 percent. In the past I’ve seen items such as Lilly Pulitzer sunglasses priced at $29 and Marc by Marc Jacobs glasses at $40! However, be aware — each sale only lasts a day or two, and the best deals go quickly, so if you’re going to try your hand at a sample site, logging on as soon as the sale starts is key!
3. Outlet stores
I absolutely love outlet stores. In fact, this is where I purchase quite a few of my designer sunglasses. Many people worry that items found in outlets will be defective, but this is rarely the case. In fact, the majority of the merchandise is overstock that manufacturers have sold directly to the outlets, or items that are made especially for these stores. My favorite outlets to shop for sunglasses include Neiman Marcus Last Call, Off 5th Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet, Nordstrom Rack, and Bloomingdale’s Outlet. These stores always have a large selection of sunglasses, and they are typically priced between $80 and $140, depending on the brand. However, be sure to sign up for emails because these outlets often send out coupons for 30-40 percent off of one item. If I’m lusting for new glasses, I always wait until one of these coupons hits my inbox, and I can usually score a pair for around $70. If you’re looking for a certain brand, check to see if that brand has an outlet anywhere and give them a call. Most outlets such as Kate Spade and J.Crew will help you select items over the phone and send them to you, which is a great option if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
4. Sign up for sale alerts
If you’re not signed up for sale alerts, you may be missing out on some pretty spectacular bargains. There are several websites that will email you any time your favorite brands are marked down. For example, if you’re yearning for a pair of Michael Kors sunglasses, select Michael Kors as one of the brands you are interested in and chose how often you would like to be emailed. I chose to be emailed daily since the really good deals tend to sell out quickly. These services monitor numerous websites and will email you with a listing of all Michael Kors items that have been marked down. My favorite services for deal alerts are My Perfect Sale and Shop it to Me, which searches over 150 websites and can be customized by brand, size and department. I have to admit, receiving my Salemail is one of the highlights of my day! In the past I’ve scored Ray Bans for $60 and numerous other items by using these services.
5. Buy secondhand
Although we all would like to be able to run out and buy that new pair of $200 sunglasses from Neimans, that isn’t exactly realistic for most of us. However, you might be surprised at the quality of merchandise you can find on various secondhand sites. We’re all familiar with eBay, but nowadays there are numerous other options for buying used merchandise — many of which are geared towards designer-loving fashionistas! One of my favorite sites for finding used designer sunglasses (among other items) is Poshmark. Poshmark allows users to buy and sell items such as high-end glasses, shoes, jewelry, and more. One of the fun aspects of Poshmark is their virtual shopping parties, where you can browse, buy, and sell items of a certain brand or category with friends. Another great secondhand site for designer sunglasses is HipSwap, which searches the listings of over 50 online marketplaces. With just a quick search on HipSwap, I found an adorable pair of Juicy sunglasses for $50 and a pair of Coach sunglasses for $35!
6. Purchase a designer’s secondary line
Now more than ever, many designers are creating secondary lines that are less expensive than the originals. Marc Jacobs has Marc by Marc Jacobs, Prada has Miu Miu, Michael Kors has MICHAEL and the list goes on and on. Since these lines are under the umbrella of the same company, they often have a similar feel in both style and quality. One of my favorite secondary lines, especially for sunglasses, is Kate Spade’s Saturday. This line offers sunglasses priced between $50 and $70 as opposed to Kate Spade’s original line, which are typically priced between $128 and $158. Instead of blowing $138 for Kate Spade’s Avice glasses, check out Saturday’s very similar Peace Out glasses priced at only $60! If there is a particular designer that you are partial to, check to see if they have a mid-tier line that offers more affordable styles.