It’s a sample sale – duh

Runway GraphicBack in the day, the only people who were lucky enough to take advantage of sample sales were those who lived in the likes of New York, Los Angeles and other cities with members of the glitterati. These days, anyone can access a sample sale with the click of a button. With flash sale sites like Hautelook.com, Ruelala and Gilt, among many others, you too can have sample sales delivered directly to your inbox on a daily basis.

How do these sites work? Much like discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, these sites sell overstocked items to consumers at steep discounts. While they typically sell last season’s merchandise, they can be a great place to find designer items on the cheap. Although there is no way to try on clothing, most of these sites have generous return and exchange policies. If you’re looking for a timeless piece that is high quality and fashionable, these places can be a great resource. They also sell beauty products and home goods.

Which ones are the best? I only have personal experience with a few of them. I have purchased from Hautelook, Ruelala, MyHabit, Ideeli and Beyond the Rack.

Items on Gilt tend to be on the higher end of the luxury scale, so despite good discounts, they’re still pricey.

Hautelook has a good mix of higher and lower end items. They ship quickly, and the customer service team is helpful. Hautelook was acquired by Nordstrom, so they are now a representation of the brand, and treat customers as such.

I found out about RueLaLa by watching The City on MTV. This site does a lot to help emerging and local designers, but I’ve found the merchandise to be very hit or miss. If you do find something that you like, they ship quickly.

Beyond the Rack always has amazing deals, but the company is based in Canada. There’s nothing wrong with Canada, but it takes a long time for them to get merchandise from their suppliers, so it can take up to 8 weeks to get your order.

Ideeli is another site with a varied selection of merchandise. They don’t have a ton of stuff on the site, but they do offer good deals, and they ship quickly as well. They also have a great return policy in case you get something that you don’t like or doesn’t fit.

If you are patient and can deal with the angst of not being able to try clothing on before you buy it, then flash sale sites can be a great way to add clothes to your closet for a reasonable amount of dough. Sign up and see what tickles your fancy.

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