Comparison Shopping for Designer Fashions

Lots of price comparison search engines are out there these days, such as Pricegrabber and MySimon. Still, they're no panacea--the stores being compared are limited to some big-name retailers and a few small ones. Lots of e-merchants are missing in the mix, especially for emerging designer fashions. Therefore, it's going to take a lot of work on your part to get the best deal.

If you're complete clueless on where to begin, the first stop should be online fashion editorial sites and hard-copy fashion magazines. They'll point you to some popular e-tailers like Shopbop and GoClothing, where you can start ooh-ing and ahh-ing over some beautiful clothes. Some of those sales bins have pretty good deals. Editorial sites also introduces us to designers we've never heard of but make fabulous clothes (perhaps useful for eBay searches). Another great thing about these sites is that they often have exclusive coupon codes that saves you a pretty penny. However, don't rely solely on publications. Some of them get paid through advertisements or other deals unknown to the public, so there may be a bit of conflict of interest there.

This second step sounds incredulous and time consuming, but here it is: go to Yahoo! and Google directories for shopping>>women's apparel/shoes/whatever else you're looking for. There are tons of stores that the good people at editorial sites may not have heard of, and new stores pop up all the time. Why search through both directories? Well, I've found that while much of the listings overlap, parts of them do not. Go through the listings one by one (you can try looking at 10 a day) and see if you like them. If so, save it under your browser's favorites list. I divided my list into 4 tiers, depending on how good their sales sections are. The ones that have the cheapest and most interesting stuff are in the 1st tier, while stores that have interesting things but are not cheap land at the bottom tier. Additionally, you can categorize them however way you want--by shoes, accessories, etc. It helps to get organized because there are literally hundreds of online stores, and it's easier if you split them up than to start the directory search each time you want to find your favorite store. I check the sales bins of the tier 1 stores much more often then the ones in the bottom tier.

Finally, despite how fabulous search engines are, not all stores are in the directories. Some of these "lost stores" are captured by editorial sites (yet another reason why they're useful), but others fall through the cracks. Once you know who your favorite designers are, do a Google search to find more e-tailers. I remember doing a search for "Louis Verdad" and "sale," which turned up stores that weren't on the Google directory. Again, add the store onto your list if it's even remotely interesting to you. There were times when I didn't bookmark one and regretted it later.

Once you've completed your list, sit tight until you need to buy something. When the time comes, just go compare your bookmarked sites one by one for your potential purchase. That way, you'll only have to sift through 10-30 stores as opposed to 100+, or worse yet, succumb to the high prices of the site you thought was the only place that sells such things. It pays to do your homework.

Well, I have finals for the next few weeks, which means I'll be on hiatus again. Happy shopping!

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