Being a part-time working mama (even at full-time!), I do not have the luxury of beau coup cash. Thus, I am not comfortable with spending $100 on a pair of shoes or even $60 on a pair of jeans. Things around $30 are more my jam. Of course, this poses an issue when I like brands like Free People or Steve Madden. I have always joked that I have expensive taste: if you were to hold up two shirts of unknown price points, I will almost always pick the more expensive one.
However, I have come to learn that there are other ways of scoring those beautiful shoes or dresses for a fraction of their market price. Though it takes persistence and maybe a little bit of detective work.
Of course, these methods can be applied to items that aren’t designer or even clothing. I scout for cheaper products no matter what the item is: Halloween costumes, plants, furniture, home goods, supplements, beauty products, and so on. I would rather spend less (as would anyone), so you better believe that I shop around to get the best deal no matter the price.
Poshmark is one of the best places to get apparel and accessories at a discount. Many items are lightly used or even brand new, such as if the seller forgot to return the item within the return window. Many people even go as far as to make a living by purchasing items when they are on major sale and then resell it on Poshmark. If you are diligent and check back frequently, you may find the item of interest posted for significantly less. Unfortunately, Poshmark does not allow you to save a search, so you just need to check back frequently for new items to be posted.
You can also negotiate prices on Poshmark by submitting an offer for a different price than what the seller has listed. The seller will review the bid and can counter if s/he wants or straight up decline the offer. There is no harm in submitting an offer! Worst case scenario, you end up paying the set price. Though, you may be able to save another few dollars–at least–by submitting an offer.
Be sure to fully review the photos and caption within the listing. Sometimes items may have varying degrees of damage. So long as the seller discloses the damage, you cannot return the item for not having thoroughly reviewed the listing.
Very similar to Poshmark, eBay is another place that people will list new or used clothing and shoes. I also like to get some of the more typically expensive beauty and makeup items on eBay. eBay does allow you to save searches and will notify you if any new items are added that match your search terms.
Of course, eBay is known for auctioning and bid wars, which make me uncomfortable. They can be such a slippery slope: I’ll just bid another $10 above what my cut-off was to make sure that I win it!…and then another $5…until the price is way over what you originally wanted to spend. Or even worse, the winner gets the item for just a few dollars more than your max bid. Ugh. Thankfully, eBay also has the Buy Now feature which is simply a set price for an item and some sellers will also entertain offers submitted.
Again, be sure to fully review the listing prior. If the seller disclosed that the item is a knock-off or damaged and you didn’t realize this until the package arrived: eBay will side with the seller. Some sellers do accept returns but with a restocking fee.
If you have not heard of Offer Up (or Let Go), it’s basically a souped up Craiglist. Offer Up is particularly great for home goods, plants, furniture, or other odds and ends. Honestly, it is harder to come by clothing items on Offer Up, but not unheard of. I have found shoes galore on Offer Up from Steve Madden to Tory Burch. Obviously location is everything for this so it can be slim pickings or a bust entirely if you live in the boondocks. Offer Up recently rolled out a shipping option which makes more items widely available across locations, which is supremely helpful.
ShopStyle (Sale Alerts)
ShopStyle is like LiketoKnow.It but my favorite thing about ShopStyle is that it gives you the “Sale Alert” option! When you see an item you love, you can add it to your sale alerts list and it will EMAIL you when the price drops!
Large name items are generally available across lots of stores. For example Spanx leggings are available at Spanx.com, Nordstrom, boutique stores, Macy’s, and others. A simple browser search can pull up dozens of places of buy Spanx. Google is great for shop searches (not great for performing research since it is so biased) and will disclose the price on the Shopping tab underneathe the search bar. You can easily browse though and find the best price. Google searches even pull up eBay and Poshmark listings
If I see something I like, I will Google key adjectives regarding that item. For example, one time I found a button-down, peplum tank top that I loved (hello, breastfeeding-friendly and trendy!). So I took to good ‘ole Google. By searching for: “button-down peplum tank top,” I was able to find a nearly identical item for $20 less! You may need to get creative with search terms as some places refer to a button-down as a button-up or button-front.
This may be my best kept secret…
This “key adjectives search” trick is veeeery useful for boutique items in particular. This is because boutiques are basically a place to house clothing from different wholesale sellers. The boutique does not have a monopoly on that specific item unless the item is the boutique’s name-sake brand.
A more popular boutique may mark up an item more than a smaller boutique. This is because the smaller boutique doesn’t have as much overhead or is still trying to get their foot in the door.
The BEST way to find a boutique item elsewhere, is if you can find out what the brand of the item is. For example, one of my favorite shirts ever (from a boutique) was made by Cherish. When I searched out “Cherish tops,” I found the same thing elsewhere for cheaper (bummer that I overspent). Occasionally in comments, buyers will disclose the brand name and some boutiques are forthcoming in this information. Though, I know of a few popular boutiques who do not disclose the brand on their website. I guess if you were desperate, you could purchase the item from the larger boutique and do a brand search once you receive the item. Then, if you do find it cheaper elsewhere, you can return the more expensive item. That’s devotion. 😉
Wait it out
This will likely be everyone’s least favorite suggestion. Mine too. I have seen certain trends come and go quickly (as in one season) and others stick around. Obviously this does not work as well for the fast fashion items, but well for the more classic items. By waiting until the end of the season or even next year’s season: you can find it for significantly cheaper.
For example, a pair of boots is not going to be a big seller in the summer. Therefore, it will likely be heavily discounted in the spring or early summer to move the product. Even if the brand brings back the style: last year’s version will still be less than the nearly identical version of this year. For last year’s version: Poshmark and eBay really come in handy.