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Designers at discount stores

By Naomi Mannino ·
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

Were you wooed by that mischievous cat on the commercial for designer Jason Wu's new collaboration with Target? Did you drop everything to stand in line at H&M for the Versace last fall? Are you a Simply Vera by Vera Wang devotee at Kohl's?

You are not alone.  A new Facebook group called "Jason Wu for Target: Swap, Sell & Buy" has sprung up to help the group's 550-plus members locate  items, swap sizes and even take orders for each other based on what's still available at their local store. On Tuesday, more than 10,000 Jason Wu for Target items on eBay are being sold for two and three times the in-store price, which explains why people are greedily buying them out at Target first. For example, the much-desired cat tote that retails at Target for $39.99 is now on eBay for around $79.

But are these lower-end designer duds worth the trouble or the price, or are they just duds?  I asked Vicky Oliver, career and business etiquette author of  "The Millionaire's Handbook," and she says to just leave it. "It's not the same fabrics, stitching, fit and styling the designers sell at their namesake boutiques or upscale department stores. Remember, you are buying it in a discount department store." Oliver says that  if  you're on a fashion budget, save up your money and invest in fewer high-quality, beautifully fitting, classic pieces. She explains her one-third rule of wardrobe shopping: "Buy one-third as many clothes as you do now, but spend three times as much on each item."

When it comes to high-quality shopping, Oliver suggests the following.

  • Look for coupons and special savings days, and shop the clearance rack, especially at the upscale department stores and designer boutiques.
  • Try on the real thing to teach yourself how to spot fine fabrics,  craftsmanship, styling and  fit.
  • Invest in pieces in one or two color palettes that you can mix and match in different ways
  • Avoid expensive pieces in white because just one tiny stain could ruin the piece.
  • Opt for dark classic pieces as the backbone of your wardrobe, paired with neutrals, and use a pop of color and personality in accessories, shoes, jewelry, belts, scarves and handbags.
  • Abstain from knock-offs and even outlet shopping. One off-price retailer trick is to manufacture lesser clothing specifically for their store or outlet, although some do carry designer leftovers that didn't sell (think about why they didn't sell).

Were you wooed by Jason Wu for Target or other designer collaborations? Were the pieces you bought as fabulous as you had hoped?

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