Tricks of the Trade: A Fashion Editor's Guide to Nabbing Designer Steals

There's an inner bargain hunter in all of us—even those who spend their days in the most luxe of labels. To make the most out of your discount shopping adventures, check out this these unconventional tips for finding that once-in-a-season designer steal. It's about time you considered budget shopping less an activity and more a sport.

1. Make a List and Check it Twice:

Thanks to and, the practice of "compare and save" has reached a whole new level. Make a list of your "must have" items for the season by scanning ultimate fashion sites including Net-A-Porter, and simply type each item into one of these sites. Voila! All the work has been done for you. A list of all online sites carrying the item will appear from to Continue to monitor the items daily until quantities become too low to let go of or the price has become just right.

2. Get Organized, Then Make a Run for it:

Designer discount heavens such as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls are chaotic. It is quite normal to feel overwhelmed, lost, and most likely confused. The best plan of attack is to get organized before you walk into the madness. Set a budget, map out your favored sections, and hit them up in your preferred order. You may have to dig a bit, but chances are you will find gold in those racks typically consisting of Donna Karan, Michael Kors, and Ralph Lauren. When you do come across that perfect item at a fraction of the cost, take note and put the item on hold. Most stores will hold your items for 24 hours.

Then, make a run for it. Head directly to a competitor like Century 21 or Loehmann's and search for their hidden gems. This will help determine which items are on racks everywhere and which are truly once-in-a-season finds. If you are in the mood for a little retail roulette, try purchasing your items at a later time for the ultimate discount. It may take weeks or even months to get the piece at a lower price, but it will be well worth the wait.

3. Sales Associates are your BFFs

Sales associates are akin to bouncers holding the velvet rope for entrance into the hottest clubs, whether those locales are Bergdorf Goodman or Saks Fifth Avenue OFF FIFTH. Once you befriend one (or two or three), you discover a whole new world of retail therapy. Not only will your new friend advise you on sales in advance, they will actually invite you to "presales" which give you private access to all the goodies before anyone else. And if you become one of their favorite clients, they will even hold specific pieces for you until the sale hits. All is fair in love and war.

4. Don't Just Purchase a Label for Fashion's Sake

Yes, we all want closets filled with Givenchy, Armani, Valentino, and more, but that doesn't mean that you should purchase any item with a designer name and assume it's the best new addition for your closet. Chances are the piece will go unworn because it was purchased for the wrong reason. When discount shopping, assume the role of the harsh fashion editor. If you're hunting for a new pair of jeans, wear the best pair of jeans you own. If the item you try on, regardless of label and/or price, doesn't beat the pair you wore walking in, leave it. The best finds while designer discount shopping sometimes come from the most unexpected of brands, which is a blessing, as it exposes you to new designers, styles, and trends. Channeling your inner-editor will also keep you purchasing clothes you will actually wear.

5. ebay All the Way: has never been better. With its most recent update, the site created a homepage that scrolls the latest listings of your favorite brands and becomes quite addicting, we may add. In addition, it is the ultimate resource for scoring killer deals on some of fashion's most expensive designer brands such as Alaia, Balmain and Chanel. While yes, many sellers may try to trick you into purchasing their fake renditions, there are also ways to stay a cut above the rest. Here's how:

First, take the time to scroll through your top-notch brands and add potential winners to your "watch list." Normally "auction" sales allow for a better deal. Wait until the last minute to bid on items (bidding in advance will drive up the price). Downloading the Ebay app will also assist in preparing you to bid on ending auctions—it includes notifying alarms.

Second,Compare similar items throughout the site to make sure you are receiving the maximum deal. Next,make sure the seller guarantees the item's authenticity or your money back. This way you know you are covered, no matter what.

Last, know your sizing in advance. Chances are the seller will not accept returns (besides for authenticity issues). While you may have received the best deal of your life, the last thing you want is for your win to accumulate dust in the closet.

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