How To Afford Luxury Fashion

I’ll be totally honest here. I often stalk handbags on Instagram. Yep, you heard me correctly. I stalk certain handbags (though I like to think, in an un-creepy way) using the hashtags. My stalking sessions can sometimes run up to the hour mark. But I justify my behaviour by reassuring myself that any such expense requires extensive research.

In December, I treated myself to two handbags that I’d been stalking for a good few months. I’d be saving up all year and purchasing them was a moment I’ll never forget. I treasure them and wear them on a weekly basis. They will always remain staple pieces in my wardrobe and I’m still not quite over the excitement that buying them generated.

However, just a month on and my stalking sessions began again. There are just SO many gorgeous handbags. But a girl has to eat, right? So while I do adore them, I knew they weren’t on my radar for at least another year.

Or so I thought.

But then I started to do yet more research, this time away from the hashtags of Instagram and more so into how lots of my favourite blogging ladies manage to afford such gorgeous luxury items so frequently.

I know there’s a little bit of backlash online about the unattainability of designer purchases by bloggers, but personally – I think it’s a fab indication of how many incredible ladies are totally #GIRLBOSSING right now. If they’re able to splash out on a beautiful new bag once a month, who am I to tell them no? In fact, I’m more likely to be cheering from the sidelines “Yes, yes, yes – that one!!”. Oooh. Aaah!

I would be a bad influence on them. Because with my input, they’d probably up that bag quota to 2 per month.

Anyway, I came across a few videos and blog-posts from some top luxury purchasers and they each had some great tips for saving, spending and making your shopping budget stretch further. Many gave the advice of ‘stocking up on a few designer key pieces’ to make your high street wardrobe feel more luxe, which I love! However affording those key designer pieces was the bit I was most intrigued about.

And so that’s where this post comes in. It’s a collation of my research into purchasing and wearing luxury. Because even if we do enjoy saving up for those designer splurges (I know I do), wouldn’t it be amazing to make your shopping budget stretch that little bit further?

Members Only Shopping Sites

How amazing would it be to have a secret club for fashion lovers – where you could get exclusive access to an incredible selection of all your favourite designer brands, at the most affordable prices? Where you could shop Valentino (my love), Pandora, Calvin Klein, Pinko, Dior and Tommy H – without having to stump up the price tags associated? Er, yes please! I’m in! It sooo beats the secret book club I was in at school aged 11. Especially when they ruined the ending of Molly Moon for me. Yep, totally still not over it.

Best Secret offer a rather fancy community of fashionistas (or shopaholics, whichever description is preferable, I’m OK-ay with either) with over 30,000 products from 3,000 designers.

You probably won’t have heard of them before, because they’re rather discreet and they don’t advertise. Plus they’re referral only – so you have to know someone who is already a member and have them refer you personally. Once you’re part of the club though, you’ll save up to 80% on items – and their rather tempting speedy delivery service means that there’s no waiting around, everything is shipped within a day of placing the order.

I shopped via Best Secret for a few last minute purchases for Miami – and I picked up a few rather exciting treats. Probably my most prized purchase was this gorgeous mustard Pinko bag, which is both the most beautiful and most unusual accessory I’ve ever owned. I spotted this bright mustard shade cropping up rather often at New York Fashion Week and was intrigued by how beautifully it paired with reds and blues. It’s a bit more adventurous than the kind of thing I’d normally go for, but I love how Pinko have incorporated a classic, chic design with such a bold colour.

Plus, I snapped it up with 49% off, as it’s usually £338 and yet as a Best Secret member, I picked it up for £173.

Eager to ensure I was really getting the best deal as a member, I popped the bag name into Google to cross-check and sure enough, this deal is vastly cheaper than anywhere else, even on other fashion networks which claim to get you the best prices! This rather exciting discovery meant that I spent another hour exploring the site for more bargains (usually a dangerous move, but much more bank balance friendly here!).

This meant that I soon discovered a pair of gorgeous tortoiseshell sunglasses from Michael Kors for £61.90 instead of £147 (these shades even made it into the Daily Mail with me – I know, what on earth?!), a Broadway NYC trench coat for £35.90 instead of £70 and finally, the finishing touch to any beach outfit – a pair of fringed sandals from Ella Cruz. Normally, £52.90 but with 66% off, they were £17.90!

Just call me the Designer David Dickinson. Luxury Bargain Hunter!

On second thoughts, maybe not. I’m not sure I can pull off that orange hue. 

Since we’re all friends, I’ve popped my own referral link here and invite you to set up your own membership for a much more affordable luxury shopping experience! My only term is that you let me know what you’ve bought from the site, because I would love to see what designer bargains (have those two words ever gone together before?!) you’ve snapped up!

Shop Around For Deals

When I bought a pair of Valentino Rock Stud’s last year, I must have spent at least 3 hours googling the specific colour and style I wanted, before eventually heading to the checkout. What happened next was totally unexpected – as they actually arrived at my front door with a note from my wonderful boyfriend (he’d bought them as a surprise gift – but me, being me – ruined it by ringing him and saying ‘Oh I’m just going to treat myself‘). Little did I know, he’d already treated me.

However as I’d found a better deal on another site (which saved him £100), we ended up returning his lovely gift and swapping them for the cheaper website. The exact same pair of shoes, just 20% off with an ‘introductory offer’ code. The same code that you can get if you refer a friend!

Often I write these kind of spammy emails off entirely, but they really do make a difference when you’re spending ££ on luxury items. 10% off a Missguided haul isn’t to be sniffed at, but it’s certainly much more worthwhile when it’s off a site like Farfetch, where the items are all designer! It’s certainly worth doing a little scope out of all the different sites and also keep an eye on my Twitter, as I always post deals when I find them!

See the items on my YouTube video above… 

Pinko Bag

MK Sunglasses

Ella Cruz Sandals

Broadway NYC Trench Coat

Buy Second Hand

Of course, buying second hand designer isn’t a new discovery – eBay has been offering the ability to buy and sell pre-owned items for years. However in many cases, there’s no verification on whether the item you’re about to purchase is genuine or what condition it might be in, so it’s a bit of a risky business.

Vestiaire Collective popped onto the market and I’ve seen so many bloggers raving about their incredible service, which means that fashion lovers can fulfil their ‘one in, one out’ policy. The site guarantees 100% authenticity on everything, so you have peace of mind you’re not spending thousands on a piece that turns out to be fake. Plus, they quality check everything and provide secure payment options. They photograph everything in-house, so it looks from the outset like a very affordable designer shop – but really, it’s a marketplace for these amazing luxury items where there are some serious bargains to be had.

Snap up a Chanel for £1500 or a Gucci Belt for £120! Everything is ready and waiting for buyers to find their dream purchase and then it’s shipped straight out! Plus, I love the fact that the Concierge service takes the hassle away of putting everything up for sale manually – great if you want to detox your own wardrobe to make room for some newer additions!

Rent A Bag

This concept seemed a little bit crazy to me at first, because the whole point behind owning luxury staples – is, well, to actually own them. I figured simply loaning the bag wasn’t quite enough to satiate my designer cravings. And plus, how on earth could I begin to think about giving a bag back? Surely, it would be like eating a quarter your chocolate bar and then having to hand it over?

Well actually, it’s a fab idea and one that I’ve jumped on board with over the past few months. Rather than dipping into your house deposit or savings, you can satisfy your inner luxury shopaholic by signing up for an Uncloset subscription, where members can loan a handbag of their choice (from an extensive catalogue featuring Givenchy, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and so forth) for a small fee each month.

I say small, it’s £149 per month (get your first month for £99 with the introductory offer) which admittedly is more than my gym membership, but it’s a tiny fraction of the cost of the incredible luxury products in their catalogue and you can swap your bag every 30 days! So essentially, it’s £4.96 a day on your average month to carry round the bag of your dreams!

Plus I love the idea of trying a bag before you buy it, because as they are such huge investments, I like to think a subscription to the Uncloset service is an integral part of your investment research process! Well, that’s what I’ll tell my accountant anyway. It’s a fabulous fail-safe option for those who love changing up their wardrobe but don’t want to keep paying out for new bags.

Experimenting with style is something I’ve really gotten into over the past year – especially having started blogging full-time! I love the premise that for the price of just one of these bags, I can experiment with 12 luxury pieces over a one-year period, switching things up as my personal style develops.

This month, I actually loaned the nude Givenchy Antigona – which I took with me on my recent trip to Miami and it basically became an extension of my arm. Having already purchased the black version myself, I’d been intrigued to try out the lighter, more summer-y colour, as the two were up for debate when I bought it last year!

Next month, I’m going to part ways with the gorgeous tote bag and swap it for something new. What do you think I should go for from their catalogue? There’s so much choice, I definitely need some gentle persuasion!

This post was produced in collaboration with Best Secret, however all opinions are my own.