How to afford REAL designer clothing (on a non-designer budget)

How do you add REAL designer clothing to your wardrobe without spending a fortune?  If you live in a large metropolitan area it’s simple; Buy them used at a high-end resale or consignment shop.  I know people who have found amazing Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld and other designer pieces in bins at thrift stores, but I’ve never been that lucky. Thankfully, I can indulge my love of elegantly styled, beautifully made clothes at Clothes Heaven in nearby Pasadena, California.

Designer Clothing on a Budget: Oscar De La Renta

Below and above are two cocktail dresses by Oscar de la Renta.  My photos do not do them justice.  These are the sorts of garments one expects to see on a mannequin in a museum. Instead, they’re for sale. If only I was a size 4!

Here’s a closeup of the details on the dress.

I can’t say that any of these clothes are CHEAP.  These are not Goodwill prices, but they are much, much reduced from the original cost which works really well with my finances. Speaking of price tags, some of these clothes still have the original tags on them.  One of the dresses I purchased had never been worn.

Chanel for Half the Price

This Chanel cardigan was covered with tiny, printed, sequins. It’s details like these that make me almost feverish.  I think it’s the reason I fell in love with fashion in the first place.  Clothing like this is wearable art.

If I ever have a hankering for a real designer logo purse, this is the place to go. Below, Chanel purses lie in a pile, waiting to be found and loved.

For the truly obsessed, a Chanel umbrella waits in the window.

I found this chain link print rather beautiful.

I love the thrill of the hunt that comes with purchasing garments second hand.  Finding something great, in my size, that I can afford, that looks amazing, is really something special. One day I will find a Chanel suit that fits me. It’s a total fantasy, but I hope if I look long and hard enough the perfect one will come my way. I could never afford one new, but resale stores like this one might make the fantasy a reality.  This peach tweed suit was a little too tight, and at $2,000 I really can’t afford it even used, but I can dream!

Escada on Sale

A adore the print on this Escada dress. Unfortunately it’s a very small size so I will never be able to call it mine.

Designer Accessories

The beauty of purses and jewelry is that you don’t have to find one that fits. You just have to find one you like, and there were lots and lots that I liked, starting with this snakeskin clutch.

This beaded clutch really took my breath away.

Designer Shoes

Jimmy Chou, Prada, Jimmy Chou, and on and on all lined up just waiting to be worn again.

There was a whole rack in my size, but I didn’t purchase any shoes.  Actually, I didn’t purchase anything I photographed here.  One of the things I love about “Clothes Heaven”  is that the lovely owner, Lorraine, was very nice about letting me click away all over the store. They won’t let you do that when the clothes are new let me tell you!  I find looking at designer clothing as fun as buying and wearing it.  I find all those wonderful details, fun prints and beautiful fabrics inspirational.

I did a post on this store way back in November on my former blog.  It’s faded into the web now that I gave up the domain name, so I thought I should write about the store once again.

Do you ever shop at resale or consignment stores?  What do you think of the experience? Are there any high-end resale stores in your area?

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35 Responses to How to afford REAL designer clothing (on a non-designer budget)

  1. Dress Code: High Fashion
    September 9, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    I never found a designer bargain in a thrift-store either…I consider these stories urban myths…

    Have a nice weekend, Jen
    Dress Code: High Fashion recently posted..Video: Alexander McQueen F/W 11/12My Profile

  2. Edwina September 9, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    WOW!!! Great stuff in THAT shop. The detail of that black dress is so gorgeously Oscar! I haven’t done too much shopping like this in a long time but I use to love it for jewelry and accessories especially.
    Edwina recently posted..It’s All Part Of The ExperienceMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 10, 2011 at 10:31 am #

      Hi Edwina! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I don’t go to this store very often, but every time I go I wonder why I’m not there every month. The jewelry is great too. Next time I’ll have to take some photos.

  3. SACRAMENTO September 9, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    99% of the time I buy second hand. This place is pardise for me, ahhhhhhhhhhhh. I am drooling all over.
    Have a grand weekend, my dear Heather.

    • Heather Fonseca September 10, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      And you are the one person I know who finds amazing designer bargains in second hand stores! If ever you make it to LA I’ll take you there.

  4. Alexis of NorthOnHarper September 9, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    I *need* to start doing this…. I have some super high end designer pieces, but they always come into my possession by dumb luck- so it is probably time I start collecting things with purpose…
    Alexis of NorthOnHarper recently posted..FNO FunMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 10, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      If ever you want to go there together let me know. It’s a great place!

  5. Luísa Lión September 11, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    wow!! I found your blog because you commented under my picture that Lee Oliviera shot of me during Berlin Fashion Week and I must say I love your second hand designer post! That Chanel suit you are wearimg is just beyond beautoful and fits you as if it was made just for you! Too bad it was still $2,000 🙁 I wish I’d live in the US you guys have amazoing stores and even Ross, TJMaxx, Nordstrom Rack you can find amazing cloiths for a super great deal!!

    Lovely pictures!!



    Luísa Lión recently posted..Outfit: White lace and lilac Flowers ( & my new Marc Jacobs bag)My Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 11, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      Hello Luisa and thank you for stopping by my blog! I love Lee’s blog. How wonderful that you met him in real life!
      I did love that Chanel suit but I do need to be somewhat restrained! One day it’ll happen I’m sure of it.

  6. Marlene September 12, 2011 at 4:31 am #

    Maybe am thick here but the black dress screams “mourning”. Others are nice though 🙂
    Marlene recently posted..How to get a degree fastMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

      It might all be in the accessories! It wouldn’t look like mourning with hot pink shoes.

  7. Plami September 13, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    This is unbelievable! So many great pieces!


    • Heather Fonseca September 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by! Are there any consignment stores where you live?

  8. Stacey - Total City Girl
    September 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    I have friends that love shopping the consignment stores but I have to say, I just can’t do it!! The thought of wearing used clothes just gets me.
    Stacey – Total City Girl recently posted..Photographing Les Miserables, School EditionMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 15, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      It was hard for me at first too but I just take them strait to the dry cleaners and try not to think about it too deeply. I really can’t afford this caliber of clothing unless it’s deeply on sale, but I’ve got expensive taste so what can I do?

  9. citizen rosebud
    September 15, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Congrats on making IFB LALM! Well deserved!
    citizen rosebud recently posted..The IFB Conference, Milk StudiosMy Profile

  10. Oh to Be a Muse
    September 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    OK–i totally have to make a trip to Pasadena to go to Clothes Heaven!
    Oh to Be a Muse recently posted..My Fall Wish List at ZalandoMy Profile

  11. hallie September 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Hi, lady!

    Visiting from last week’s Links a la Mode, congrats on your post being included in the round-up!

    Great finds, here! I’m totally taking notes. 🙂 The Chanel umbrella is SO cute.

    Looking forward to getting to know you and your blog! x


  12. thea_bambina September 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    I know exactly what you mean! I am interning for a vintage/consignment shop in Ontario, Canada and we have had some great names in store! Christian Lacroix, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Prada and so much more. Even the Moschino belts all the bloggers have been crazy for! It’s a fantastic way to build your wardrobe at a fraction of the cost, plus you experience the thrill of the find which is the ultimate!

    • Heather Fonseca September 22, 2011 at 10:47 am #

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on the post! Unfortunately I don’t live anywhere near Canada, but if I’m ever in Ontario I’ll be sure to stop by!

  13. Designer Clothing November 14, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    Useful info. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident, and I’m stunned why this accident did not happened earlier! I bookmarked it.

  14. Amazon Store September 25, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on prada bags look.

  15. Chanel April 2, 2015 at 5:36 am #

    Nice post. Good luck to you! Chanel is absolutely on everyone’s fashion bucket list!


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