Ready, Set, Sale: The Clock Starts…NOW

Frugal Fashion
Times are tough, money’s tight and the holidays didn’t help ease the tension between you and your checking account any. Worst of all, despite the parties being somewhat more spread out for now, there are still upcoming birthday dinners, dates and a hodge-podge of other social situations for which you’ll want to look your best (read: you’ll want a new outfit for sure).

Not to worry; for, although 2009 was a rough year in many ways, it did give rise to a handful of members-only bargain-shopping websites, particularly those of the timed-sale variety. Between the lot of them you can score apparel, shoes, accessories, house wares, novelty items and designer collections for men, women and children. Some sites even offer exclusive travel packages! What more could an economic-slump victim want? Here’s what you need to know:

Gilt Groupe ( The most luxurious of the bunch, this site features collections from such labels as Missoni, Helmut Lang and Doo Ri. You’ll have to log in to the sale right when it starts for any shot at snagging your dream pieces, though—things fly outa here so fast it’ll make your head spin. Their sales also tend to be more current than some of the other sites’ sales. In other words, very little time seems to have passed since the items were in-season, such that the sales are still relevant when they hit Features include sections for men and juniors, as well as a travel site.

*TIP: Even if the site says the item you want is “unavailable” or “in another member’s cart” just keep clicking repeatedly on the “Buy Now” button. Each member can only hold something for 10 minutes before it goes back on the digital floor. So, you’ll have a chance at picking it out of the air while it’s in transit between some unfortunate slowpoke’s cart and the metaphorical display shelf. Trust me, I speak from experience. Plus, a customer service representative told me so.

HauteLook ( This site reminds me of T.J. Maxx or Marshalls in that you’ll find lots of recognizable, quality brands and are likely to get some good basics and random accent pieces, but, generally, it’s not exactly a gold mine. Once in a while, though, you’ll get hit with a Christian Louboutin or Decades Two (one of my favorite vintage vendors) sale and see stars, so stay on your toes. They also have sections for men, children and home, and boast the best beauty sales of the sites on this list.

Rue La La ( This site, too, is another hit-or-miss shopping experience. There are some really good finds mixed in, but you’ll have to search (i.e. read the “subject” line in your daily email alerts closely). Sometimes a men’s line or a travel package will be featured, but there are no specific sections for such items, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for those, too.

Ideeli ( You’ll find exciting collections here, but the prices are often noticeably less slashed than the prices featured on some of the other sites; you’ll have to determine what’s a reasonable asking price on a case-by-case basis. Their luggage sales stand out, however, as do their regular giveaway drawings—it’s the only site that offers anything free so frequently and you really can’t beat that!

*NOTE: Sale start times vary based on your membership “level.” The 2nd Row is the most basic level and is free. For a fee you can upgrade to the 1st Row and get access to sales earlier than 2nd Row members. You’ll also get access to some additional, exclusive 1st-row-only sales.

Billion Dollar Babes ( The coolest part about this female-focused site is that it hosts live, in-person sales, in addition to those that are online. There you can actually try stuff on before you buy it! Like Ideeli, you can opt to upgrade your membership. While $100 a year seems a bit steep, the VIP membership comes with a multitude of money-saving perks, including free U.S. shipping, advance entry into both online and “real world” sales, and a discount card that’s accepted at Billion Dollar Babes' partner locations (restaurants and hotels to come soon).

theOutnet ( It is because of their Flash Sales that this site made the list. Their Pop-Up Sales are straightforward, limited-time sales and their periodic Giveaways are self-explanatory, but their designer Going Going Gone sales are a bit more unique: They work like the stock market, except instead of randomly going back up in price, the item will just be gone. As the clock ticks, the price of the item goes down. You can wait to buy until the price is right, but you won’t know how many Xs (purses, pairs of shoes, necklaces, etc.) are available, so if you wait too long, you may miss out.

If you have trouble becoming a member of any of these sites (some are by invitation only), simply email me and I’ll be happy to send you an invite. Louisa at Large readers must never be excluded!

1 comment:

Marc said...

Thanks for the great information!