How to Afford Luxury Fashion on a Budget

As you may have noticed, this site got a mini makeover and also a minor shift in focus. You see, I realized that while I love a nice designer bag and luxury accessories, these are not things that I can afford to spend money on all of the time. This caused a lapse in fashion content because I felt that since this is a luxury-focused blog, I had to be sharing the newest Bottega Veneta mules and Loewe bags each month and that was just not possible. I started thinking about the average woman who might also have a taste for luxury but like me, might not have the disposable income to regularly spend on designer clothing and shoes. This led me to revisit the focus of my blog and think about how I can solve the problem of wanting to experience luxury without compromising your financial health. So here’s the first post of the slightly shifted topic of this blog, luxury beauty & fashion for those of us on a budget. Today, I’m sharing how you can afford luxury fashion on a budget, aka sans credit card debt.

Budget & Save 

Before heading to your favorite site with your credit card in tow, take some time to review your finances and see what you can afford to spend on your “wants” after paying for your necessities. I use a spreadsheet to budget my monthly income and expenses to make sure all of my fixed expenses such as my bills and variable expenses such as groceries are accounted for. (Let me know if you’d like a post on how I create my budget for each month.) Then, I make a note of how much I want to add to my savings. Once my budget is set for those, I review how much I have for “fun” expenses like dinners, beauty, and of course, clothing. If I want to save up for a luxury item, I’d cut back on the dinners and beauty to prioritize using the fun money for my luxury wishlist item.

For me, part of the fun of buying luxury items is the buildup of excitement before buying them. So saving up for an item aka delay gratification can be a part of the fun as well. To make keeping my finances organized easier, I actually have a designated account for shopping. Not only does keeping this as a separate “savings” account help me stay organized but I also know I’m not dipping into my regular savings. It’s much easier to see how much you have to shop instead of having to refer to a spreadsheet before each purchase.

Shop Pre-loved

Thrifting has come a long way since when I used to go to the shops in New Orleans with my grandma looking for a good deal. There are now so many pre-loved fashion sites that curate designer items at amazingly discounted prices and are the perfect place to look for luxury on a budget. Two of the best online pre-loved sites are FASHIONPHILE and The Real Real. I love that you’re able to find items from newer seasons, as well as one-of-a-kind vintage pieces.

You can also sell items to both of these sites, which is a great way to free up some of your closet space and add to your bank account for new purchases.

Even with sites like these, the original method of thrifting aka rummaging through racks of closets past is still a tried and true way to find some unique fashion items at a really good price. If you prefer to rummage from the comfort of your own home, you can check out Poshmark to shop the closets of the world’s fashion lovers to score a good deal.

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Shop Sales

The beautiful thing about designer fashion is that it usually goes on sale, making sales one of the easiest ways to find luxury items when you’re on a budget. Unless it’s a staple in a designer’s core collection (for example, you probably won’t ever find the Luna Top from Staud on sale in a neutral color) or a hot ticket item that sells out quickly, you can usually find most items on sale at some point. To make sure you’re first in the digital line for the Friends & Family sales of your favorite luxury e-tailers, make sure you’re signed up for their email lists. 

Another way to get alerts for when your luxury wishlist items go on sale is by installing shopping extensions to your internet browser and saving each item to your list. I love using Shop Tagr because I just click a little blue button in the Safari browser to save my items to my custom categorized lists to be notified when anything goes on sale. 

If you live in larger cities like New York and Los Angeles, make sure you’re staying up-to-date on designer sample sales happening in your city. Some designers even host private sample sales on their sites so make sure you’re signed up for your favorite designers’ email lists. That’s how I scored this Mansur Gavriel Mini Mini Bucket Bag for only $125!

Earn Cash Back from Shopping at Your Favorite Stores

Speaking of internet extensions, you should definitely be using Rakuten (formerly Ebates). Rakuten is an extension that offers cashback ranging from 1-15% on your purchases from so many different online retailers. I love Rakuten because it’s free to join (there’s no catch) and I earn cashback on items I would normally buy anyway. If you’re shopping for luxury and you’re on a budget, there’s nothing like getting cash back on your big-ticket items.

You can get $10 back on top of the percentage offered by the first site you purchase from using my code.  Note: I’ll also get cashback from referring you.

Shop at Outlets 

My last tip is one that shopping addicts love and it’s clear to see why. There’s nothing like walking into a designer outlet and seeing so many beautiful pieces that have been deeply marked down. It’s almost like Christmas. My mom, sister and I love a good outlet especially the Simon Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets. We make sure we hit up the ones in different cities whenever we travel. But don’t worry, you don’t have to travel to find a good designer deal. There are so many online outlets now and it’s a gift fellow money-conscious luxury lovers will appreciate. Sites like HauteLook, The OutNet, Nordstrom Rack, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks Off Fifth, and Gilt make it easy to shop for luxury steals.

bonus tip: rent it

You may have heard of Bag, Borrow, or Steal from the first Sex and the City movie but since then, there have been several companies pop up that allow you to rent clothing and accessories to try them out. Maybe you have an event coming up or you’re trying to be more sustainable. Either way, renting could be a way to experience a little luxury for a little while. I’m not counting this as an actual tip to afford luxury since you’re not technically buying the pieces but this is an option for temporarily getting your hands on your favorite designers’ pieces. I know a lot of people who work in fashion who love Rent The Runway because they get to switch up their looks for a low fee (I think the unlimited plan is $200). That’s a smart way of refreshing your closet without having to go on a shopping spree every month.

I haven’t personally tried one of these rental services but I would if I had an event to go to and needed something nice to wear. In that instance, it’s more economical to rent since I probably wouldn’t wear the outfit again. If I was still working in an office, I would also consider signing up for Rent The Runway. I also think renting a bag would be a good way to try out something you’re on the fence about to see if it fits your lifestyle. Let me know if you’d like a review of a specific rental service. I’d love to see how they work and report back.

Those are my top tips for affording luxury no matter your budget. I’ll be sure to update this list as I discover new secrets to staying laced with the best designer fashion while on a budget. Let me know what is your favorite way to shop for luxury without breaking the bank.

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Until next time, your friendly luxury shopping enabler.


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