This blog post is a follow up to my how-to on building a foundational wardrobe. So, if you're curious about how to do that, read the piece and them come back. These are the sites I used to build out the wardrobe in the article, but I also use these sites whenever I need something and don't want to pay full retail.
NEVER PAY FULL PRICE. There's too much information out there and too many stores now for you to fall into this trap. You're welcome. 🙂
Ebay is one of my favorite places to shop, especially for brand name items I do not want to pay full price for. In fact, just last week I bought a Baby Bjorn Babysitter for one of our nursery items, and I got it for $15 off the retail price with free shipping, and it was brand new in the box.
Pro Tip: Google what you want, for example, “barefoot dreams blanket” or “Armani blazer” and select “new” under the condition filter and see how much you can save doing eBay over traditional retailers.
Nordstrom has a massive sale every July and if you do a bit of research beforehand, you can snag pretty coveted items for Fall (Boots, jeans, sweaters) at a deep discount if you shop this sale. This is also a great way to accrue Nordstrom points which you can then exchange for gift cards at a later date.
For example, I'm a Nordstrom cardholder. (Funny and slightly unrelated story is that this is the first card I took out under my married name and my husband was NOT HAPPY. I digress.) This means I get early access to the sale and 3 points for every dollar I spend on the card, but I also get two days a year where I can earn double points on my purchases.
So, if I wait all year long and spend $500 dollars at Nordstrom during the sale, this means I get the equivalent of 3,000 points (500 x 3 = 1500 x 2 (for my double point day!)) or a $30 gift card. It's not huge savings, but it is “better than nothing” and obviously, the more you spend the more you earn.
Pro Tip: If you are willing to spend a bit of time in their sale section you can score some good finds there too even during a non-sale event. I found an entire Madewell brand outfit (jeans and a tee) for a total of $30 there. Plus, I like that they do free shipping and free returns.
Lord and Taylor retail locations may not be long for this world, but the good news is this means they have a lot of merchandise available in their online store, which you can get very good deals on.
I like to shop here for activewear and shoes. Sometimes I can even get 4-5 items for under $100. Depending on the brand, the apparel may not be the best quality, but I wear out my gym clothes and shoes, so I'm fine not spending a ton of money here.
Pro Tip: Lord and Taylor always has a discount code you can use, and they publish it right at the top of their site. If there isn't one listed on the site, a quick google search or using the Honey chrome extension will always yield a coupon.
I like to use The Real Real to search for high quality, luxury brand items: designer purses, shoes, belts, tops.
And before you think, “Second-hand clothing, gross!” Only a handful of what I listed below was used. And it came lightly used. You can buy REAL, designer brand clothing, with the tags on for up to 70% off on these sites so if you're not doing it because of your ego or whatever. GET OVER IT. There are deals to be had here, people. And plus, it's way better for the environment.
Of the items I purchased in this piece, 75% of it from The Real Real new, with the tags on, and I was very happy with what I received and the much lower price per wear. I would say use this site for investment pieces, or if you fall in love with a designer piece but know you can't afford it. It's always worth at least a quick scan to see if the item you can't live without is already for sale on The Real Real.
Pro Tip: Click here to explore what The Real Real has to offer in the NEW WITH TAGS section and get 20% off your order with code REAL.
So, I have mixed feelings about Rue La La, even though I shop there quite a bit. Truthfully, any of my most favorite items are from there (My favorite rashguard swimsuit! Birkenstocks! a DVF wrap dress!)
It's a flash sale site, and while every item is already on sale, often the discounts aren't brag-worthy enough for me. I want that DEEP DEEP discount, feel me? Deep discounts are available on Rue La La, but in the clearance section and as final sale only, which means it can't be returned. They offer 30-day returns on many items but pay you to ship it back, which also displeases me.
I only shop Rue La La for brands I'm already a fan of and I know the sizing so I can shop confidently and lessen the chances I'll need to return. Still, I shop here often so I thought it was worth mentioning.
Pro Tip: You have to act fast and be sure of what you want, as some items are not returnable, but it's a great way to score expensive brands for much less than retail value. They also only have certain items on sale each week. I check back from time to time and search for the “holes” in my closet or replacement items (like the Birkenstocks I mentioned), “e.g. black boot” or “white sneaker” just to see what's on sale.
Other Discount Retailers
If you like to shop in-store, retailers like Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx are always a good bet to snag discounts on brand-name stuff. Especially if you like to dig or hop around to different stores to see what's in stock.
T.J. Maxx is a good place to go for discount designer deals as well for designers known for their solid craftsmanship: Vince, Theory, Kate Spade, etc. I don't love digging through their retail stores though, but they've stepped up their online game substantially in the last few years. Click here to see all the designer discounts they offer in their special section, The Runway.
Nordstrom Rack is good if you like Nordstrom and the brands they carry but want to wait until the next season when the items are at a better price.
Pro Tip: Nordstrom Rack has a nice online site that makes it very easy to shop, so I'd probably go there before shopping T.J. Maxx online.
ThredUp is true consignment/ thrift shopping. They have many items with tags, but most of their inventory is pre-worn. I don't *love* ThredUp as I find the new with tags section isn't extensive, but if you're willing to hunt you can still find some good deals and many gently used items.
I don't frequent the site often, but when I'm looking for a specific item, I will pop over and browse if I can't find it at one of my other go-to stores. I've also found ThredUp to have the best deals on baby clothes, which I don't want to spend a ton on because they go through them so fast.
I also mention ThredUp as a resource for when you want to sell your clothes online. They're great for that and often I just end up using the credit of what I sell to buy something I need or want to try.
Honestly, when it comes to snagging discounts it's all about knowing what you need to grab to round out your closet, setting a proper clothing budget, and then shopping all the major sites to see where you can get it for the lowest price.
It is a bit more time intensive than just going to a store and buying off the rack, but in order to save money and shop more sustainably, we have to put in the work. Happy shopping!