Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Label Lust: A Shopping How-To

With television shows like Lipstick Jungle and Gossip Girl and red carpet events for movie premieres and award shows, it’s no wonder we have become quite the label obsessed society. Our shoe offerings boast of Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, and Jimmy Choo. We’re told to stuff our wallets into handbags by Fendi, Prada, and Louis Vuitton. And as for clothing, classics like Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent and modern fashions by Marc Jacobs and Zac Posen are top runners for choices. I could go into severe debt just trying to collect them all and really, how many occasions would I ever have to wear them? Oh wait, I don’t need specific occasions. Work, dinner with the girls, date night with my husband, shopping … I could find an excuse to wear these pieces everywhere—and I have. This is my tried and true how-to guide for shopping for the labels we lust.


One of the best times to shop for your labels is during major sales. Nordstrom’s hosts a half-yearly and yearly sale. Their half-yearly sale allows you to buy those pieces you’ve had your eye on all year and at fraction of the cost. But their yearly sale is my favorite. Fall merchandise hits the store in the middle of summer and at prices we can afford. For me, it’s a Christmas miracle! I can’t wait for my catalog to arrive in the mail! Check out this year’s sale on July 16th. 

The Saks Fifth Avenue Designer Sale is another favorite of mine. Clothing from top designers at 60 percent off and shoes from labels that only celebrities seem to sport are 50-60 percent off. Shop at your own risk! I have been lucky enough to be in New York several summers in a row to attend this sale in person and I’ve walked away with Christian Louboutins and Jimmy Choos that I will wear for seasons to come! If you plan a trip to the concrete jungle, try to squeeze in this event.

Sample sales are another great place to locate those must-have labels. New York Magazine provides weekly updates of these sales taking place through out the city. I’ve had terrific luck at such sales. Most recently, I purchased my first Rebecca Minkoff handbag and carried it during my entire trip. It’s a great cross-body bag that I will wear again and again. I also got great pieces from Michael Kors, Max Studio, and Soshanna. I also had success in San Francisco a few years back. Search online for sample sales in cities where you might be traveling. The Thread Lounge has a permanent store in Chicago and is currently trialing a store in San Francisco. You can sign up for their mailing list for notification of future sales.  


I love Rue La La, but this amazing website can be dangerous. Enter with caution! The only downside is that you must be invited to join. If you are a frequent reader of iforstyle and are interested in seeing how Rue La La can change your world, let me know! An invitation will be on its way. The site provides you with a daily e-mail alert of the featured boutiques of the day. Shop the labels you want, click the size you need, and check out. It’s as simple as that, I promise! They keep your credit card and shipping information on file. Just click and shop. No purchase required at any time. Just window shop if you want. Most boutiques are open for two days but be warned, item sell out very quickly. If you find what you’re looking for, and it’s something you can’t live without, purchase it and then go back for more shopping. is another online daily boutique site, but for more luxe brands. Again, you receive a daily e-mail alert with the featured boutiques of the day. These boutiques generally stay open for two days as well and sell out just as quickly. The items are much pricier than the items found on Rue La La, but they are just as worth it! 

Lucky Magazine is one of my go-to fashion magazines. They feature great pieces at affordable prices and have a wonderful online shopping guide. One of their regular features, called Lucky Breaks, consists of selected discounted items throughout the magazine that are also featured online. They provide you a discount code to apply when finalizing your purchase. (A side note: The magazine features a store directory. It’s a list of all their favorite stores throughout the country. Map out your assault with this handy tool. It’s been very successful for me.)

Instyle is another fashion mag go-to. They feature luxe labels while sprinkling in affordable lines, which makes it so worth the time to flip through. Their online shopping site allows you to shop by category and designers. The Deals & Steals feature provides discounts on selected pieces, also with a promo code to be used at check out.


eBay can suck hours out of your life, if you let it. But there are so many good finds in the process. My first foray with eBay resulted in my Prada clutch, which is a fantastic purchase that I use constantly. I also found my Balenciaga motorcycle handbag that I will carry for ages! It’s tough but oh-so-chic! I also found a vintage Gucci suede clutch for a girlfriend’s birthday. Take the time to browse and I promise you will uncover the find of a lifetime!

Outlet Malls and Discounted Retailers

You have to be very careful at outlet malls. Some are very deceiving. You aren’t always getting a deal. I recently shopped at The Legends here in Kansas City. The Legends features an array of stores, some are outlets, and I was surprised to find many stores I currently shop. I had major success at both BCBGirls and BCBG: Max Azria. They both carried this year’s styles, as well as some from past seasons. A dress that had originally been $148 was purchased for $29!! Same for a black, wool coat with ¾-puffed sleeves. And, for the low price of $29, I have an adorable new black coat for winter! Other items made their way into my closet and I will be back for more in the coming months!

Century 21 is one of the best stops on the retail trail in New York. There are several locations through out the city so check out their Web site for one close to you. I make sure I go every trip I make to the city. My Badgley Mischka suit was an amazing find and at a price I couldn’t pass up. I’ve also found pieces by Marc Jacobs, L.A.M.B, Tracy Reese, and Diane von Furstenberg. Make sure you add it to your site-seeing list! You won’t be sorry.

Places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx can be very hit or miss. I’m not a digger and in stores like this you have to want to take the time to dig for a bargain. However, I did find a fantastic pair of Dolce and Gabbana black heels at Marshalls. Imagine my surprise! They are a small patent leather weave, with peep toes and mirrored soles. Fantastic! I find that I now head straight for the shoes upon entry and it never disappoints. TJ Maxx, in my opinion, carries better designers in handbags. It’s definitely worth a trip as long as you’re prepared to dig.

Designers for Less

Finally, some major fashion designers are heeding the call to design lower-end collections at affordable prices. JC Penney carries some of these lines, such as Charlotte Ronson’s I Heart Ronson, Allen Schwartz’s Allen B, Nicole by Nicole Miller and Liz&Co by Liz Claiborne. Target has some amazing designers coming and going! I have been able to collect labels such as Botkier, Liberty of London, Eugenia Kim, and Cynthia Vincent. Most recently Target carried Zac Posen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and the late Alexander McQueen. I can’t wait to see who brings their designs next! Even Payless Shoes is on the label train with lines by Project Runway winner Christian Siriano and Alice+Olivia.

As you can see, there are so many ways to get the labels you desire and at prices you can afford. All you have to do is decide how you want to spend your time and money to get them. There are still labels out there that one day I will get my hands on. My wish list contains the iconic quilted Chanel handbag with chain strap, a simple black pair of Manolo Blahniks, and a Burberry trench coat. Maybe I’ll get them, maybe I won’t. If not, that’s okay. I have some incredible labels that I haven’t even begun to mention and they will last this girl a lifetime. Now, go get yours!

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