It used to to be that you had to be invited to exclusive sites, like Gilt Groupe, RueLaLa, or Hautelook. (Don’t they sound fancy with French qualities in the title?) These were the original big three, becoming mainstream in about 2008. Now, sample sites are literally everywhere and you can just join, no invitation needed. But are you really getting a better deal? In many cases, yes, but it may not be worth the potential inconvenience of it.
In most cases, what you’re getting is past season stuff deeply discounted. Sites like Rue La La have seasonal “blowouts” too, where stuff is basically given away. In these cases though, shop fast. You have no time to consider, change your mind, or fill your cart for the fun of it. Stuff gets sold out within hours or even minutes. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush, but a little bit stressful when you’ve realized you just bought a lot of stuff you can’t return.
Read return policies carefully. Sometimes an item might be returned for a refund, sometimes credit, or sometimes not at all. This can cause a problem if you’re shopping for furniture, or from a brand you don’t know. If you don’t know how to gauge the sizing, you can be taking a huge risk if it’s a big ticket item and you can’t return it. You don’t get the benefit of reviews from users to offer advice on fit.
It’s worth doing a quick search on the item, if you need to know that you really are getting a deal. Usually you’ll find it elsewhere already on sale, but sometimes you can’t find it at all. What I’ve found to be true is that the item is well past-season and you won’t find it anywhere. If this is ok with you, shop on. But if you’re concerned about being totally up to date, move on. Depending on how you see it, you’re not getting that great of a deal if the look is from two years ago.
Another potential drawback is that there are rarely coupon codes available. But then again, you are getting a great price.Still, it’s a little mocking when there is a box for a coupon code and you never have one. A rare occurrence, check out this link now for a Gilt promo code. By some miracle, there are a few different options. Or search our site for gilt free shippingor gilt.com promo code).
If you can get the Gilt free shipping code, use it. The shipping rates are always flat (and never free), which means if you buy a $15 piece of jewelry that ways an ounce, you’re still paying $7 shipping in some cases. Which is annoying.
Finally, most sites have incentive programs, Gilt’s being the most attractive. Get $25 per friend when they make the first purchase.
With so many to choose from, let’s outline the most popular:
The Best Luxury Brands: Gilt Groupe has the most exclusive brands. Find Burberry, Katharine Malandrino, Helmut Lang, Lanvin, and so much more. These items still feel very high end, according to the price tags. But still, it’s fun to look. Gilt has more affordable brands, also that are a bit more realistic to most. If you love designer diggs but need to score a deal, here is a great place to start.
The Best Men’s Selection Most sample sale websites have men’s selections, but RueLaLa has the best and widest selection. Their brands tend to be mid-tier, like Calvin Klein or Tahari, but they do boast the occasional Gucci sale. Their men’s selection tends to be the most versatile with the most to choose from. You can also find a decent deal on appliances at RueLaLa, since you’re already there, and all…
The Best”EVERYTHING” Selection Hautelook, owned by Nordstrom, is your one stop sample sale site. Hautelook has literally hundreds of sales going on at once. In fact, it can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, you can shop by category. Find everything on this sight from a tube of lipstick, to an area rug or a curling iron to a set of puzzles for your little ones. The fashion brands tend to be new-ish designers trying to make a name and more or less caters to a younger audience. For fashion, think early twenties, but for everything else…think toddler to senior.
The Best Furniture Collection Joss and Main has some great fun and contemporary furniture that feels IKEA-esque (but perhaps better quality), as well as more substantial classic pieces. Most is modern in design, with fabrics featuring modern trends like brightly colored florals and chevron patterns. Distressed furniture is also very big this season, according to Joss and Main.
Best Overall Discount 365Hangers guarantees a 70% discount. What’s unique here, though, is that not all dresses are available in all sizes. But, this allows you to search easily (by size) and the bonus is that you get to see models actually wearing your size! No more trying to imagine how a dress will look on a 145lb you versus the 95lb model.
There are dozens more sample sale websites for all of your online shopping needs! Do a quick Google search to start shopping and picking your go-to stops when you need something fabulous.