A designer belt is a great way to posh up a bread and butter outfit. The last two designer belts I've purchased was a GG Gucci belt from an outlet mall...
...and the one I most recently bought is a black elastic Prada waist belt for under $40 off Poshmark!
The thing these belts both have in common is that they were wayyy too big when I originally bought them. You can get a lot of clothing items altered, but the great thing about belts is that they are so easy to alter yourself, or super cheap to take into a cobbler! The Gucci belt was way too long, so I took it into a shoe cobbler who only charged me $5 to add a couple more holes and trim the end of the belt off.
The Prada belt consists of an elastic piece that I had to take about six inches of material away from. I didn't want to actually cut up the elastic band in the event I wanted to do anything different with the belt in the future (or gained weight lol) so what I did is, I sewed u where I would want the belt to end with dental floss, then sewed down the ends for a cleaner look. Almost looks like a bow!
A great way to find some killer designer deals is to start looking outside your usual size!
It was not long into my reselling journey when I heard about Nordstrom's final clearance store Last Chance located near Phoenix, Arizona. Known for near nothing deals on clothes, shoes, accessories, and home goods, items end up in this store for a variety of reasons. You will find a lot of the same item if they overproduced or overestimated the interest in the product. As well, a lot of one off items end up in the store due to Nordstrom's generous return policy. If the item is no longer on the floor, or is too worn to be sold in their Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack stores, they end up at Last Chance. I'd seen other people's amazing hauls from the store, but really had no idea of what to expect going into this experience. I thought I would share the good, the bad, and the ugly (!!) of my 3 hour experience there to hopefully help any other people decide if those deals are right for them! Keep scrolling to read!
Before The Store Even Opens
I knew this place gets busy (duh, great deals) and I was going on a Sunday so I was expecting a crowd. However, rolling up to the store 30 minutes before they open, I did not expect already to see a line of people wrapped around the building! The store is located in the basement area of an indoor shopping center, however they start lining people outside and around the building before they open. I would guess there were already at least 50 people waiting in line when we got there!
Once it was only a few minutes before opening, employees came out and sorted the people waiting into two lines, those who wanted to shop shoes first and those you who wanted to shop clothes first. They definitely had a system down to avoid chaos! I chose shoes because, well, I was just overwhelmed and this was the closest line to me ha. From there the employees led us single file down into the store, so far so good!
Similar to Goodwills in my area, all the items being sold at Last Chance have different color price tags. The day I was there, the sales they were having included 50% off all purple tags, and 80% off the purple tags on long dresses. Everyone swarmed that area when we entered, so there was barely anything left by the time I made my way to that area of the store. Most of the items I bought that day were purple tags, so there were definitely a lot to choose from. Honestly, I didn't pay more than $15 for one item, with my average item cost being around $9.
Outside of the purple tag items, 99% off the items I saw (all color tags) were priced SUPER low. I was pretty picky just because I am not a super big fan of retail arbitrage, but if you are purchasing for your own personal closet these deals can't be beat anywhere. I'm talking DVF wrap dresses for $30. I heard some women talking about how they are used to Last Chance having more discounts, so its possible there are days where more colors tags and items are discounted.
What I was not expecting was to find that most of the items in the store did not have original tags attached. It makes sense that they would do this to deter reselling, but wow that must take a lot of work. (There are even signs around the store forbidding reselling) However, I was still able to find a few pieces with the original designer tags attached. I was worried that maybe the cashiers would be on the lookout for this and remove them, but honestly they were in such a hurry to check people out they didn't even notice/care.
Another thing about the items that I was not expecting was how many were visibly worn, especially for the shoes. Most of the shoes had scuffs and wearing on the soles. I guess this speaks to Nordstrom's return policy. Even items that had original tags attached still had holes or pulls in the material. I recommend THOROUGHLY looking over piece of clothing you are looking to purchase for any irregularities. As far as the range in clothing brands and designers, while a lot of the items in the store are Nordstrom's lower end brands (Halogen, BP, Hinge, etc.) there was also still a very large amount of mid (Tory Burch, Kate Spade, DVF) to high end (Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Burberry, YSL, Chloe) to choose from.
The Other Customers
Ok, this is where everything gets a little nutty. Everything up to this point has sounded great, but you really need to be alert and keep your wits about you in this store because people are not here to leisurely shop. I've shopped a lot of sales and thrift stores in my lifetime, but none of those trips really prepared me for this place. The people are here to find the good deals, and find them before anyone else. Most of the common decency you would expect at a Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack will not be found here. People WILL push your cart out of their way. They will grab an item out of your cart if it is something they want. They will jump ahead of you on the rack to grab something right out of your hands. While I was looking through a rack of jeans an employee rolled out a rack full of down jackets, some of which I saw had the Moncler symbol on the arm. I beelined that direction and was only about a foot away when two people jumped in my way and made me stop while they grabbed EVERY SINGLE JACKET OFF THE RACK. I just stood there for a minute literally like :0
Another little interesting tid bit of info is that Last Chance only has a couple fitting rooms, so don't be surprised to come face to face with a topless woman squatted behind a clothing rack trying on shirts. Nothing to see here folks.
Like most Nordstrom Rack stores, the checkout counters are at the front of the store. After I was done shopping, I was surprised to find that the checkout line went from the counters at the front of the store down the middle of the store to the back, went along the backside of the store, and turned back up almost all the way to the front of the store. Pretty much a full upper case "U". But like how they wrangled us into the store at the beginning, the employees really have a handle on lines and keeping things as organized as possible. There were employees along the way that took off your hangers and security tags. As long as the line was, it probably only took me about 10-15 minutes to get to the front of the line.
Tips FOr Success
- Get there early to take advantage of the biggest deals of the day
- Bring a buddy along so they can watch your cart if you need to go to the bathrooms (which are outside of the store)
- Lay a big item over the top of your cart and your other items so no one takes them out
- While the racks having size sections, a lot of items are disorganized and out of place so I recommend going through all racks
- When you see a new rack being rolled out FOLLOW IT AND BE THERE FIRST
- Only water is allowed inside the store, but I definitely bring some because time moves at a different pace inside this store
- Keep a mental note of what items have the big security sensors on them and make sure they get taken off (one of them got left on one of my items)
- Wear a crossbody bag to allow maximum arm usage
- Dress comfy because I can assure you no is there to impress anybody (I think the opposite actually lol)
- Look over every single item CAREFULLY because so many items have holes or defects, and this store is no exchange/refund/return
Overall for me, I would come back in a heartbeat if I find myself in the area again. I may even make the 10 hour round trip just to come to this store again. Considering the brands I found (a lot of which I've never been able to find in a thrift store) it is the perfect situation for me because I absolutely live for the hunt of a good deal. But if you prefer the comfortable, leisurely shopping experience, and don't mind paying up for that, THIS IS NOT FOR YOU. It was fun reliving this crazy experience with you, and if you have any questions or your own experiences with this store to share feel free to leave a comment below!
I've started enjoying this new challenge recently where I try to see how low in price of an outfit I can make out of my current wardrobe! Its a walk down memory lane of my past conquests and makes me even more thrifty when shopping now. And I have really outdone myself with this one, where I literally only paid $1 for the top+jeans+shoes+bag! (Ok sorry this doesn't include the Gucci sunnies, but it was so bright outside) Keep scrolling to see all the details!
Banana Republic Tie Front Blouse [new, $0] Banana Republic Raw Hem High Rise Jeans [new, $0] Banana Republic Navy Block Heel Sandals [new, $0] Ralph Lauren Leather Tan Crossbody [secondhand, $1]
So how did I get all that Banana Republic loot for $0?? Rewards my friends, beautiful rewards <3 Those bad boys NEVER expire in my possession! The top, jeans, and shoes were all completely free when I applied the rewards I had received from the purchases I made with their credit card. It's important to remember that in order to get the better end of these store credit cards you have to pay it off every month in order to avoid crazy high interest rates. Otherwise you are paying so much more than you are getting back!
Unfortunately the top is over a year old but I found a nearly identical one from H&M for under $12! It's so classic and preppy, it is definitely a wardrobe staple!
The most flattering jean in the world is a dark high rise skinny jean. Don't @ me on this. Another thing I look for in a jean is a cotton/spandex/elastane blend because they are stretchy but don't stretch out. These are my most recent BR reward purchase and I love that they are so versatile but have the fun raw hem bottoms. I've linked a very similar pair from Banana Republic below, currently over 30% off + free shipping!
Navy just happens to be my favorite clothing color and my most recent shoe obsession is a nice, retro block heel... so when I pulled these shoes off the clearance shelf, last pair AND in my size I was so freaking excited! There thick heel + ankle strap makes them so easy to walk in and the color goes with everything. Sadly they aren't making these anymore to link but I have found a few similar pairs on sale below! (those Calvin Kleins are on serious clearance!!)
And lastly, something that wasn't bought at Banana Republic. This Ralph Lauren leather crossbody was actually a Goodwill find! In the LA area, many goodwills participate in a Thursday tag color day where the tag color of the week is $1. And somehow this bag managed it's way all the way to Thursday and I snagged it! Couldn't find any good sales on a Ralph Lauren piece like this (they retail from $200-300) but linked a couple similar, classic brown crossbodys below.
Thanks for following along! I'm loving this series because it really pushes me to be an even smarter shopper and find more classic, versatile bargains (and steals!) Let me know what you think of these types of posts below in the comments. :)
I would definitely consider myself the queen of the sale rack (trademark pending ;)) so I've had my share of good and bad sales purchases. It can be really tempting to make a quick purchase just because the price is so low! But when you do this enough it can really add up price wise, and if you are making purchases that you aren't totally in love with it can contribute to the negative effect our shopping habits are having on the environment. I've tried to be smarter when shopping clearance items, and have shared a few questions you should think about to avoid any regret!
Why Is This On Sale?
Yeah the price is low, but WHY is this particular item on sale? Is there an irregularity? Are there many like this on the sale rack? Is the fit off (ie try it on!)? If none of these apply, maybe the style was just not very popular with the masses, or it is an off return.
Is there Damage?
I've found a lot of one off items on the sale rack have some sort of damage (usually stain or a hole) Don't let this scare you off! Story time: I found a beautiful, classic, silk button down Theory shirt for $10 at Marshalls on clearance! However, I noticed it had a 1/2 inch pen mark along the side. But luckily I knew that hairspray magically erases ink from silk! I often see makeup also on sale items. These can also be easily cleaned out of clothing!
Would I Pick This Off The Rack If It Wasn't On Sale?
This is something I constantly have to ask myself. What do I like better, the price or the item? Would I even pick this up if it wasn't on the sale rack? This takes a lot of honesty on your own part.
What Are Three Different Ways To Wear This Item?
Something very important to me currently is creating a versatile wardrobe. So when shopping the sale rack I want to make sure this is a valuable addition to my closet, not just a purchase to make because it is cheap. If I can imagine three outfits with completely different items from the pieces I already own, I am more interested in purchasing.
Will I want To Wear This Item 1,5,10 years from Now?
As I expand my reselling business and learn more about how we shop and get rid of our clothing, I'm looking more at my own purchases when it comes to the longevity of the item in the my closet. Is this a trend item (ie only "in" for a short amount of time) or is it a classic wardrobe builder? There is no shame when it comes to buying trendy items, but it is worth the time to consider whether the trend is at the beginning or end of its trajectory. If this trend has been around for a while, is the price of the item worth it? On a side note, when you are ready to get rid of those trendy items, always donate instead of throwing in the trash. :)
Happy Friday and start to the long holiday weekend!
Last week I shared a blog post rounding up and sharing all the deets on my IG outfits and I briefly mentioned the new Burberry red t-shirt that I had thrifted (which was my first time ever finding Burberry out in the wild!) For this blog post I thought I would share more up close pics of the top and some tips for how I was able to authenticate it to make sure I was getting the real deal! Keep scrolling for more!
Burberry V-Neck Nova Check T-Shirt [secondhand, $6] Banana Republic Mini Skirt [new, $15] Nordstrom Block Heel Flats [new, $50] Burberry Nova Check Scarf [secondhand, $30] Chanel Cat Eye Sunnies [secondhand, $30]
So I actually found this top while I was away from home visiting my family in Northern California. I wanted to hit up a few thrift stores in the area that I knew were in close donating proximity of nice areas (helloooo wine country). The Napa goodwill did not disappoint! Not only did I find this perfect Burberry piece that fit me perfectly, but a few other great pieces to resell (like St. John :D) I have definitely come across a number of counterfeits at thrift stores so I did a few quick checks while still in the aisle to make sure I was not wasting money on something fake.
1. Look At The Details
I've found that when finding designer items at the thrift, either the items are super gaudy, over kill on the details, and just overall very fake looking or they go the other direction and are so lacking of any typical brand detail it is also a red flag. From experience with Burberry t-shrits I know they typically have their knight logo, which I found on the bottom hem of the top.
2. Check the Inner Tags
When buying a high end item not from a traditional store, I always inspect the inside tag because it will be very detailed, consistent, and include an item number that you should always google to ensure similar items pop up. From my experience with designer items, the designer name will be on the tag and they are typically made up of a more higher end material than other lower end brands, like more silky. On a side note, Burberry items not made in England is not a red flag! Burberry has factories in a number of countries depending on the line they are producing, and as you can see my top was made in Portugal.
3. Look At Overall Quality
Because these are higher end brands, the quality levels are much higher than you would find in low and even mid end brands. Stitching will be straight and consistent, and materials should feel sturdy and high quality. Look over the seams around the neck, arms, and down the sides, and ensure any sewn on items or accessories are straight and adjoined well.
Thanks so much for reading, and I hope some of these tips will help you authenticate your own great finds! If you have your own tips for authenticating designer items or thrifting in general, leave a comment to help a girl out!
Live for luxury? No trust fund, no problem!
Join the fancy free journey as we seek the
finer things in life, sans millions.
- Marie Claire, September 2016