10 Tips for Buying Designer Dresses Online
By Devorah Isenberg , Friday, September 23, 2011 3:43 AM
These days, you can buy everything online, from furniture to diamond jewelry
. So shouldn’t you be able to buy designer dresses online as well? Instead of heading for the local mall and hoping to find the perfect dress in your size, or scouring the overcrowded racks at a sample sale, online shopping is fun and easy—and can be done from the comfort of your own home. These ten tips will help you find the designer dresses you love safely and securely, and all for great prices.
1. The best online deals are sometimes found in print. Subscribe to fashion magazines like Lucky and Glamour, which often feature discount codes and access links for subscribers to get great deals on designer items. Although high-end fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar have the most inspiring editorials shoots, they don’t cater to the online shopping market nearly as much.
2. Look for online sample sales, which can have all the fantastic prices and incredible merchandise as a regular sample sale without the shoving and pushing. Member’s-only sites like Hautelook and Ideeli can help you find the online sample sale you need to get the designer dress of your dreams at an affordable price point. These sites offer one or two day “flash sales” with up to 75% off designer brands. Gilt Groupe is another flash sale site that has recently expanded beyond designer dresses and handbags; they now feature sales on furniture, vacation packages and even engagement rings.
3. Who has time to search through every designer’s website, hoping the style and size you are looking for will be available—and on sale? Sale notification sites like Shop It To Me (shopittome.com) allow you to create a profile listing which designers, sizes, and styles you like, and then they will send you daily or weekly emails notifying you of ongoing sales that fit your criteria.
4. In order to develop your online fashion expertise and be informed about the latest online flash sales, read fashion blogs regularly. Becoming a part of the fashion blogging community can help you make valuable connections that will give you insider access to flash sales. Some of the top fashion blogs include DailyCandy, Chica Alert, The Budget Fashionista, and Stylelist.
5. You can safely shop for new and used designer clothing on ebay.com. Ebay has revamped their fashion site, making it easier than ever to input specific designers, sizes, and style preferences. For example, a recent search for designer dresses yielded an aqua blue Betsey Johnson prom dress for $50, a bold red Diane von Furstenberg mini-dress for $43, and a floral sundress by Lilly Pulitzer for $55.
6. Check out Overstock.com’s Designer Store. While the Designer Store specializes in accessories like handbags and sunglasses, it occasionally has more substantial pieces like designer dresses and coats. The selection is not huge, but the prices are great and inventory changes often. For example, an ivory quilted tote from Fendi was recently marked down from $918 to $499—a 46% discount!
7. Before buying a dress online from a designer you’ve never worn before, go into a store and try on dresses from that designer. Some high-end designers use European sizing or other atypical sizing formats, and the size you usually wear may not fit.
8. No matter how careful you are, there are times when a designer dress purchases online just won’t live up to your expectations. Before hitting “complete my order,” review the seller’s return policies, and consider placing larger orders on a credit card like American Express with a generous purchase protection policy in case the return is disputed.
9. Unfortunately, buying designer dresses online can never be an exact science. Unlike other luxury goods, like, say, a loose diamond, a dress can not be perfectly sized up with scientific grading criteria. Much of what you love about a dress is difficult to assess online—How will the cut flatter your figure? How will the color look against your complexion? It takes practice to know what designer items can be safely bought online and which purchases need to be made in person.
10. For the best deals, wait for the off-season, when online retailers clean out their stock with online sales. Subscribe to as many mailing lists as you can so you will be in the know when those sales happen—you may even score VIP passes to begin shopping before other customers! The more focused and specific your search, the better you will be able to cover a lot of ground and spend time looking only for that specific item.
For more specific questions ask our experts