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.
In most cases, what you’re getting is past season stuff deeply discounted. 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. In other cases, the item is from last year and you won’t find it now…but this only matters if you care that you’re wearing something from “last season.”
There are a few major drawbacks from these sites. One is that the sale is short-lived and there are usually minimal quantities available. So, there is no room for “thinking about” your purchase. This is impulse shopping at its best. And let’s say it’s a coveted brand (Christian Louboutin is rare, but I’ve seen it); then you’d better have your trigger finger ready to go because it will be gone in minutes.
Another potential drawback is that there are rarely coupon codes available. But then again, you are getting a great price.
Lastly, 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. 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.