It's possible you know the feeling: Lusting after that incredibly cute designer bag, or spotting a sweet pair of shoes on your favorite celebrity — only to discover the actual, too-expensive price tag and tell yourself, "Uhh, nevermind!" While we fully admit that some items are indeed worth the investment (you're often paying for quality materials and impeccable, time-consuming craftsmanship), your bank account may beg to differ. But it is possible to shop those designer pieces for a fraction of the price, so long as you learn a few hacks that those in the know rely on for deals all the time.
Thankfully, at InStyle, we often spend our days poking around online, looking for ways to follow trends or shop timeless staples in way that suits a variety of budgets. Along the way (and in our personal lives), we've learned a few tricks for how to save some money a would-be splurge. So, the next time you're ready to make a major fashion investment, follow these steps to ensure you're getting the best price possible.
Go Ahead and Google
Obviously, if you're looking for a specific piece, you'll do a search to find it, but after typing in that term (ex: Ganni boots), head on over to Google Images.
"I actually utilize google images while online shopping, which is definitely unexpected," our e-commerce style writer, Tara Gonzalez, reveals. "But I find that when searching the name of an item, I'll often find smaller boutiques or stores that have it on sale that don't show up immediately on the first page of Google. Also, it's a visual way for me to scan and see if something is still in stock and compare all of the prices in one place."
In other words, click around on those images. They might lead you to a smaller store, where the item you love is less expensive or even on sale. Plus, supporting small businesses is always a win.
Spend Some Time On Etsy
It's true: Fashion editors love Etsy! While it's definitely a destination for DIY shirts and cheeky mugs, there are also a ton of vintage and secondhand shops, curated by sellers around the world — and yes, you're able to find designer duds on there, too.
Should you want to follow a specific trend, simply type in that search term — cardigans, for instance — then set your filters to "vintage" in order to take homemade pieces out of the equation (or not — there are also a lot of great artisans making and selling gorgeous clothes and creations for reasonable prices). Then, scroll until you find something you like and check it out.
You can, of course, type in exact brands, names, and filter by size if you're looking for something specific. But, simply browsing by a trending term is a great way to discover pieces that are unique, rather than the same exact thing everyone else owns.
Add an Extension or Two
Many of us have browsed for coupon codes out of curiosity before checking out, but there's actually an easier way. Browser shopping extensions, such as RetailMeNot's DealFinder and Rakuten's Cash Back Button, are the low-effort way to save some dollars in the long run. The Capital One Shopping extension will actually tell you when you've found the best price available online.
"I have a ton of extensions on my computer that show me coupons and discount codes," says Gonzalez. "I've saved hundreds of dollars this way and helps me save time without searching for discount codes."
Travel Around the Globe
While it may be summer in the USA, the other side of the world is experiencing opposite seasons. Many fashion pros know that if you're looking to plan ahead or shop for the current weather, it's worth it to check out Australian brands and websites for better deals, since they're putting clothes from 'last season' — aka our current one — on sale and bringing in new stuff. An obvious heads up: Keep an eye on shipping, as this will likely add to your total amount.
Find the OG
In 2021, Y2K clothing is definitely having a moment, but the best way to find items that fit that decade — along with any others that fashion has been inspired by — is to shop piece from that decade. Head on over to secondhand designer sites like The Real Real to find the original designs that current brands 'borrowed' from, which are now being sold for a fraction of the initial price. This will also ensure that while you'll be on-trend and wearing designer, you'll own something somewhat rare and slightly different, giving things a personal twist.
Plus, The Real Real always has a 20% off code, so even if you're shopping for something more timeless, like a Prada bag or Chanel loafers, you'll save yourself a few — or a few hundred — bucks.