How To Score Quality (Including Designer) Clothes For $85 And Below
Shopping for high-quality clothes in Singapore is expensive. In Singapore, a pair of quality heels can cost over $250, a nice dress over $300, and a quality handbag over $500. As a young professional in my mid-20s, I sometimes feel sandwiched between the desire to wear such well-made, high-quality clothing to exude that additional air of professionalism, and my inability to justify such purchases that would take up a good portion of my monthly income.
Thankfully, I managed to find ways to score these items on the cheap.
TL;DR: Where To Get The Best Deals For Your Clothes
Pre-loved Designer Clothes
Tools to help tag items for online store
Quality And Designer Clothes At A Cheaper Price
Here’s a breakdown of the savings I got from purchasing these items with my strategy (shopping online but with some additional twists) as opposed to buying them in traditional retail stores in Singapore:
|Item||Traditional Retail Price in Singapore||Price Online|
(inclusive of shipping)
|100% Silk Camisole||$120||$51||$69 (57% off)|
|Rockport Total Motion Leather Pump||$305||$130||$175 (57% off)|
|Diane von Furtsenberg Work Dress||$450||$66||$384 (85% off)|
|Alexander Wang Cocktail Dress||$500||$85||$415 (83% off)|
*The figure represents only a rough estimate, as some of these items are not stocked up in Singapore.
*As some of these items were delivered to Singapore in a package of consolidated goods, the shipping cost included in the figure is based on an estimate per unit.
How To Purchase Designer Clothes At A Lower Price?
Embrace online shopping
Before buying any full-priced item from a retail store, be sure to check if online stores, from both the retailer’s website itself and multi-brand platforms like ASOS, Zalora, and Amazon, offer these items at lower prices. Do also check if there are any credit card promotions or promo codes you can apply to further reduce the bill at checkout. I’ve scored Keds sneakers for $38 on Amazon before, as opposed to $80+ at traditional retail stores.
*Note: Amazon is amazing – they stock up a huge range of brands, including Calvin Klein Dresses, Equipment Silk Blouses, and so forth at heavily discounted prices.
Take advantage of deals and discounts in the US
You get access to a larger variety of items, often at a cheaper price, in US stores. Moreover, even if the retailer does ship to your country, if it is a US-based store, you may actually get better prices if you change your location to the US. I’ve encountered instances where a dress cost $40 less when I selected the US instead of Singapore as my location. You might also get access to US-only sales.
Though some US online retailers only ship to the US, you can easily circumvent this problem by:
- shipping your items to a third party shipping agent like ezbuy and comGateway which will provide you with a US address
- forward it to your local address.
Depending on the shipping agent you use and items you ship, shipping costs need not be expensive. From past experience, shipping a single parcel from ezbuy costs about $6 to 7. You can further reduce the cost per unit of shipping by consolidating your items into one shipment.
US retailers I’d recommend include zappos.com, 6pm.com, and Nordstrom Rack, where you can get discounted prices on brands like Calvin Klein, Ivanka Trump, Ralph Lauren, Rebecca Minkoff, Marc Jacobs, and so forth year-round.
Online platforms like Ann Taylor, Everlane, Grana and JCrew Outlet also offer great quality clothing, including 100% silk tops, Pima Cotton dresses, Grade-A cashmere sweaters, and woollen coats at a fraction of the price charged by traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.
Hunt for pre-loved designer clothes in good condition
Generally, if well-made and maintained properly, designer clothes can last. I’m a believer in buying pre-loved designer items because you can still get an item in great condition at a fraction of the price.
You can score pre-loved designer clothes in great condition (some even with tags on) from brands like Diane von Furstenberg, Prada, Alexander Wang, and 3.1 Phillip Lim from websites like:
The best part about TheRealReal is that they verify the authenticity of the goods sold on their platform.
Closer to home, you can also try consumer-to-consumer platforms like:
Do take note that for these platforms, you would need to be able to spot the fakes.
If you’re more comfortable with going to a brick-and-mortar store to look for designer goods, in Singapore, you can try thrift stores like:
You’d find a mixed bag of items there because it depends on the donations they get, but you never know what you can find. You can also check out outlet malls, like IMM in Singapore which has outlet stores for brands including Agnes b., Coach, Rockport, and Calvin Klein.
Buy mainly during sales
Try to buy your items during sales. In general, it’s best to hold off your purchases till big sales events, such as Easter Sales, Singles Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day Sales and Year-End Sales, where you can get massive discounts.
I’d recommend planning ahead if you wish to shop using this strategy – make sure you have your eye on what you want from the store, or at least know your sizes and measurements so that you can strike at the appropriate price point without having to worry about items going out of stock.
One great app I found to help me with this is Shoptagr – it allows you to tag the items you like as your online store and will alert you when the item goes on sale, when it is low in stock, or back in stock.
Disclaimer: Some caveats to this shopping strategy –
- Ordering the right size – It’s a perennial problem for online shopping, but there’s always the issue of figuring out the right size for you for each brand and cut for the item you’re purchasing. Unless you’re able to find the exact same item in a brick-and-mortar store, the best way I’ve found around it is to measure yourself against the size chart provided by the brand, and read the reviews to see whether it was true to size or runs small/large for other customers. Apart from that, you’d have to bear the risk of buying the wrong size, although you can always explore if it’s worthwhile to return the item or get it tailored so that it fits you perfectly.
- Longer wait time for orders – On average, I wait about 1-2 months for my US online purchases the come. The reason is that you’d need to wait for them to ship it within the US to your shipping agent, potentially wait to consolidate a couple of purchases before you ship it to Singapore to save on shipping fees, then have the agentship it to your address or a collection station. You should be comfortable with that before making orders from US stores.
Seedly Contributor: Charlene Ng
Charlene is a young professional working in Singapore and enjoys writing in her free time.
She hopes to share her experiences and lessons learnt as she navigates adult life to help others become more financially savvy.
Editor’s note: The above is a really insightful article by Charlene who is a part of our Seedly community. For readers who are interested in the lifestyle aspect of personal finance, check out Seedly’s content on Lifestyle!