Ever commented on a beautiful outfit to be told it came from a supermarket, discount store or charity shop? Did it make you wonder if you know the best places to shop for cheap designer clothes?
We’ve put together this essential guide to saving money on your wardrobe – without compromising on style. There’s a whole range of places where you can pick up budget fashion bargains so take a look below.
1. Members-only websites
These websites offer customers the chance to be the first at online sales. Once you’ve signed up you’ll be sent an email alerting you to the start of the sale so you can get straight there and start grabbing those bargains before everyone else.
Only join a members-only site that offers registration for free. Also, these sites do tend to email quite often so if that sort of thing drives you crazy set up a separate email account.
Head to designer sample sale fashion site Cocosa where you can get your hands on designer pieces with up to 50-80% off. This fashion club offers members insider access to premium designer clothes and accessories.
Each sale is announced to members in advance by e-mail. The sales normally focus on one designer brand at a time and last for 48 hours. Previous collections include Christian Lacroix and Jonathan Saunders.
Once you have chosen your items Cocosa will deliver the item, beautifully packaged within two days of payment. You can even make £15 every time you refer a friend and they make their first purchase.
Koodos is ideal for fashion fans who want big savings on designer clobber. The site is really easy to navigate and when you sign up to become a member you’ll get early access to top sales so you can grab the best bargains before they go. All you have to do is check the sale calendar, select the sales you’re interested in and Koodos will email you 24hrs before it starts.
Here at Moneymagpie we also like Brand Alley, where you can get between 30% and 70% off loads of designer labels and receive £10 when you refer a friend who goes on to buy something.
2. Factory outlets
These offer lots of big label names such as Nike, Puma and Reebok (if that’s your thing) at cheaper prices. If you have a car, or can get yourself on a local bus, you can find a list here of the best outlets shop around London.
The Designer Warehouse Sales are held over three days, 12 times a year, in Islington, Central London. You could get your hands on catwalk one-offs, showroom samples and make savings of 60% or more on your favourite labels. Join the mailing list to find out in advance when the sales are going to take place.
There are some amazing bargains to be had in sample sales – but the tricky thing is finding out when and where they’re held.
Sites such as Samplesaleslondon.co.uk, The Designer Sales and Stylebible.com have their own sample sales diaries too so keep an eye on all four to make sure you don’t miss out.
- Go to vintage fairs and pick up some stunnning, and unique pieces without spending a fortune. Frockmevintagefashion hosts a vintage fair several times a year at the Chelsea Town Hall, King’s Road, Chelsea. You’ll find clothes from every era, whether you’re looking for 1920’s flapper dresses, a little eighties number or a classic 1960s piece.
- Anita’s Vintage Fashion Fairs organises vintage fairs throughout the year at Battersea Arts Centre and 20th Century Theatre, Notting Hill. Expect around 65 stands in Battersea and 28 stands in Notting Hill, full to the brim with fashion, textiles and accessories dating from the 1800’s to 1970’s.
- For vintage fairs in other parts of the country visit VintageFair.co.uk – which hosts fairs all over England including Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Liverpool.
- For online vintage stores, we like AbsoluteVintage which offers detailed descriptions of the items with lots of good accessories, shoes and bags on offer as well as a few dresses. You probably won’t find any designer pieces, it is pretty cheap, but there are some gorgeous pieces for anyone on a budget who is looking for that vintage look.
5.Discounted wedding dresses
With the average woman spending more than £700 on her wedding dress alone, getting married has never been more expensive, but there are plenty of ways to cut down on the cost of wedding attire, without skimping on its quality or style.
For discounted gowns, sample sales are a good place to start. As mentioned above, Samplesaleslondon, Designersales and Stylebible are also well worth a look.
There’s also a great little website called Poppy Bridal which stocks a wide range of beautiful wedding and bridesmaid dresses. The dresses are designer so they don’t come cheap, but the great thing about Poppy Bridal is that they have a sample sale section of dresses with up to 80% off. Most of the dresses we found in this section were between the £400-£600 mark, but if you won’t settle for anything less than designer this is a great place to start.
Believe it or not Oxfam has many bridal departments across the UK, and you can browse through their stock right here. The average Oxfam wedding dress costs just £250, and as top designers are known to donate gowns to the store there’s every chance you’ll bag yourself a gem.
In recent years the high street has seriously upped its game with wedding attire. These days you can rarely tell the difference between designer and high street, except of course when it comes to paying the bill. Here are some of our favourite high street offerings:
- BHS sell a gorgeous range of bridal items, including dresses, shoes, underwear, jewelry and accessories. Some of the deals are only available online, so make sure you check out the website before buying in-store.
- Debenhams bridal range is more limited for choice than BHS, but still worth a look.
- Monsoon is a great place to look for dresses with a classic vintage twist.
For more tips on how to cut the cost of your big day, check out our Credit Crunch Weddings article.
6. Amazon & EBAY deals
Ebay – Lots of new trends reflect the fashions of the past, so for retro, vintage clothes and accessories go to eBay and start bidding. Scan the vintage clothes section or go to the women’s clothing section and search by period whether you want a 1920s style flapper dress, rockabilly leopard print shoes, or a 1980s bat-wing dress.
Amazon – You won’t find many clothes at Amazon but it is good for cheap shoes and accessories, including designer items. Search by size, colour, brand and price to find the perfect item for you.
7. More online gems
Shopping from home should save you the cost of travelling to the shops, and websites often offer seasonal postage discounts. But beware of paying extra to send the goods back if they don’t fit.
A MoneyMagpie friend has recommended BooHoo.com to us. The site features some gorgeous clothes that are bang on trend, but at a fraction of the price you’d expect to pay on the high street. Lots of their dresses sell for just £8, and on the whole they’re really pretty. Importantly, BooHoo.com has a returns process set up with Royal Mail, which allows you to return any unwanted items free of charge.
Net-a-porter.com is a bit of a fashion favourite amongst those in the know. Expect top designers and check out its new sister site The Outnet.com, which sells more than 200 designer labels with discounts of up to 80%.
8. Clothes swapping
Clothes swapping has really taken off in Britain and even more so now that the recession is biting and disposable incomes are becoming a thing of the past.
Apparently, women in the UK have an average of 14 items which they haven’t worn for at least a year. With each of these items costing an average of £21.82, each woman has a massive £305 worth of unworn clothes in her wardrobe. Just think what could be done with that much money!
Swap your clothes with friends. Have a swapping party where you swap the outfits you don’t want any more. Some people have gems hiding away in their wardrobe that might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Want to get those Jimmy Choos for half the price? Try out the latest trend and share them with your best friend. Lots of us have friends with a similar taste in fashion so if you have one who also wears the same dress or shoe size you can club together and buy something you both love (but can’t afford on your own) and share it! Do make sure it’s a really close friend that you trust and agree beforehand exactly how you’re going to share them to save any arguments.
Swapping is the latest so called ‘recessionistas’ trend and we think it’s great! Check out our article here for more ways to swap your clobber and get yourself a new wardrobe.
9. Borrow and return
- Girlmeetsdress.com: This is a site that launched early last year. It offers fashion fans the chance to rent beautiful designer dresses instead of buying them. Stock is still reasonably sparse but it’s definitely one to watch out for. Prices start at £24 for two nights rental but most cost much more than this. All of the dresses are new or nearly new and with some retailing at thosuands of pounds it can be a good way to feel a million dollars without needing the bank balance to match.
- Handbagsfromheaven: Got a special event coming up? Don’t fork out hundereds of pounds on a designer bag. Rent one instead and save a fortune. At Handbagsfromheaven you can opt for Pay As You Go and hire as and when you like with no commitment, or become a member. Confirmation of your membership details will be sent via email. They will also provide you with a voucher that you can enter at checkout to obtain the 15% discount.
So there you have it, 9 ways to afford designer clothes but we’re not done. There’s nothing more we like then when you make big savings so see below for an extra 7 tips for making even more saving on clothes.
7 extra Tips for making even more savings on clothes
1. Grab the latest best buys
Magazine websites such as Handbag.com and Shortlist.com are also really useful for finding out about the latest sales and bargains.
2. CHARITY SHOP CHIC
Scouring through the rails of charity shops in posh areas is the easiest way to find the best clobber. Find all the second-hand shops near you here – just click on your region and it will bring up a list of shops near you.
3. Try cheaper chain stores
Clothes are getting cheaper all the time because of foreign competition, which means chain stores like TopShop, Dorothy Perkins and M&S can source many of the same goods as the shops in the next price tier. Because of their buying power, they can sell them on to you for less.
4. Shop online
Shopping online can be a great way to save money – look out for special voucher codes offering discounts and free delivery too. Online department stores such as House of Fraser are also fantastic for picking up bargains during sale times and even better, you don’t have to face the scary crowds of angry shoppers or mile-long queues.
5. Check out rock-bottom chain stores
Shops like Primark have also had a huge surge in popularity because savvy buyers are stocking the shelves with relevant, fashionable – and above all – wearable pieces. The trick here is to visit early in the morning whilst the shelves are still being stocked. This way you are sure to get the pick of the best things.
Try and avoid shopping here during peak hours. It’ll be much more manic and when there are fewer people you’ll have no reason to feel rushed. These shops are great for ‘fashion’ items that you’ll only wear for one or two seasons, but be ready to do some repair jobs because the clothes are not made as well. Staples such as stockings, hats, pyjamas, T-shirts and underwear also regularly come in at half the price of the high street chains.
6. Always join mailing lists
As long as it’s free, always join the mailing list of any sites that you use regularly because it will usually mean that you get told first about any upcoming sales so you won’t miss out on any bargains. There could even be special offers just for customers who have signed up.
7. Get creative
If you have a sewing machine then making clothes can be cheap and you can always boast that they’re one-offs. Personalised clothing, such as monogrammed baby shawls or handkerchiefs, make great presents, too.
A pair of old jeans can be really easily turned into a cute denim skirt. All you need to do is unstitch the inner leg seam and cut the jean legs to your desired length, then sew them back up again. Click here for a step-by-step guide.
A simple pack of dye can give you a whole new wardrobe. In fact, we can show you how to update your entire wardrobe for less than a tenner!
Tell us about your tips for affording designer clothes in the comments below or tweet us at @MoneyMagpie.