How to Buy Designer Clothes on a Budget

December 26, 2012

designer clothesWhat do you do to buy designer clothes if you don’t necessarily have the budget to afford them? There are several places where you can usually find designer clothes and buy them at much lower prices.

Lower Priced Department Stores

When we think about designer clothes we usually think about high-end department stores and clothing boutiques. They are easily the most expensive places to buy designer clothes. Nice environments, sure, but you will pay top price to match.

The less expensive route is to go instead to lower-priced department stores. If the clothes you want are available at Nordstrom’s, look instead at lower-priced retailers, such as JCPenney and Kohl’s for the same items. If they do carry them, they will be good deal less expensive than they will be at the higher end stores.

The matter what stores you shop, pay close attention to the websites for advertised specials. Not only will they advertise when the stores have sales and specials on the specific designer clothes you want to buy, but they may have storewide sales that will offer you a fixed dollar discount if your total purchase of exceeds a certain amount (for example, $10 off purchases over $50).

Designer Brand Outlet Stores

This source can be a mixed bag so you have to be careful. Some outlet stores actually are less expensive than major retailers, but some others charge full price while they pose as discount centers. Check the prices carefully, and never assume that it’s less expensive just because it’s an outlet store.

Thrift Stores

Thrift stores can be an excellent place to find designer clothing. They typically carry gently used items, and some are almost new. On occasion, you may even run across an article of clothing that still has the store labels in it – they’ve never even been worn!

Clothing at thrift stores will be available for a fraction of the price of a major retailer. A $70 pair of slacks will probably cost no more than five dollars.

The disadvantage of thrift stores that anything that you see will be one-of-a-kind. They may have exactly what you’re looking for, but it may not be in your size. If that’s the case, you’ll just have to move on to another item.

Because of the one-of-a-kind aspect of thrift stores, it’s best to shop there on a regular basis. What you want to do is troll around to see what it is you can find. It will not be possible to go to a thrift store to look for a certain garment with the expectation of finding it. You’ll have to come in frequently and take whatever it is that you will find. Still it’s a way to come across designer label clothing for very little money.

Consignment shops

Consignment shops function in much the same way as thrift stores, except they tend to be more specialized. A consignment shop may be dedicated entirely to women’s clothing, to men’s clothing or to children’s clothing. That will increase your chances of finding something close to what it is you are looking for, even if it isn’t exactly what you are looking for.

Consignment shops tend to be more like boutiques then thrift stores however, so both the atmosphere of the shop and the merchandise they carry will generally be of higher quality. But much like thrift stores, consignment shops are largely limited to one-of-a-kind merchandise.

There is one advantage with a consignment shop that you don’t have a thrift store. Consignment shops are usually owned by just one or two people, and that gives you a chance to get to know the owner on a personal level. Once you do, you can leave an open request for certain articles of clothing (in your size) that you’re interested in buying. The owner can put those articles aside when they come in, and give you a call so you can buy them when they do.

Plato’s Closet

Getting more specific on the consignment shop idea, there are resellers, such as Plato’s Closet. They specifically target the designer and brand name market and do so mainly for the benefit of teens and twenty-something’s. In addition, they deal in very gently used articles of clothing, and act as a clothing exchange. You can go in and sell one outfit to them, and come out either with cash or with another outfit. That keeps the new merchandise flowing in continuously.

Plato’s closet has hundreds of stores throughout the United States, but there are probably competitors out there operating in much the same way. Find one in your area that is similar and you may have a ready source of designer clothes for less.

How do you get around paying premium prices for designer clothing? Leave a comment!


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Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

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