by Carly J. Cais, Fashion Designer & ChicSteals blog
As a designer I’ve developed an eye for style over the years, and an appreciation for the fact that sometimes, designer pricetags can be downright scary. While life necessitates a splurge once in a while on that can’t-live-without-it fabulous item, much of the fun of fashion is mixing high with low to create outfits that are creative, and also budget-friendly. Each week, I showcase five hot designer-style steals (each for $100 or, in most cases, for much, much less)…along with one must-splurge item.
Although Chic Steals normally focuses on getting the designer look at a fraction of the cost…how about actually owning the look itself for a fraction of the cost? We’re talking a fab Valentino frock for 70% off, a DecadesTwo bag for 10% of its retail price…and a Fendi it bag for free! Welcome to the wonderful world of members-only shopping sites, where you can score luscious giveaways and designer brands – current season, last season, future seasons, sold-only-outside-of-the-U.S. – for huge discounts of up to 60% and more off. How is this possible? These companies buy overstocked merchandise directly from the designers themselves and then sell at liquidated prices online, passing the savings onto you. And unlike visiting a store in person, there’s no digging through racks of strange sizes, damaged goods, and brand-name rejects from one of last year’s fads. While most of the reputable members-only shopping sites require an invite from a current member, we’ve got you – our lovely Fashiontribes Chic Steals readers – covered:

GILT GROUPE Launched in 2007 by the entrepreneurial female duo Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Gilt Groupe hosts the type of luxury sample sales that were once accessible only to New Yorkers in the know. Score up to 70% off hand-selected women’s, men’s, and children’s luxury goodies from brands like Valentino, Tibi, John Varvatos, Helmut Lang, Hollywould, Philip Crangi, Jill Stuart, and Rogan. Each sale lasts only 36 hours on a strictly first-come, first-served basis, but since many brands are often on sale at the same time, even the pickiest shopper is bound to find something fab. Be sure to click on the Behind the Scenes tab for fit charts, to find out about upcoming sales, exclusive fashion show coverage, model & designer interviews, happening parties, and Gilt Groupe photo shoots. Upcoming sales: Emily & Ashley Jewelry, Vivienne Tam, Vera Wang Lavender Label, Felix Rey, and Elizabeth Showers Jewelry. Rush in to access M Missoni RTW & Accessories, beginning today, Tuesday Oct. 7. For access, go to:

IDEELI As the first invitation-only e-shopping site in the U.S., Ideeli specializes in up to 90% off haute accessories, bags, sunglasses and jewelry from their more than 100 luxury and lifestyle partner brands, including Oscar de la Renta, Celine, Christian Lacroix, Sonia Rykiel, Botkier, and Zac Posen. In addition to must-haves (a Chloe Paddington, anyone?), they often have items not yet available in store, fab finds from abroad, and drool-inducing giveaways like a $1700 Balenciaga popcorn bag. They’ve also created on online community of members, offering access to lifestyle experiences like tickets to fashion shows and charitable galas, and VIP seating at sold-out concerts. Starting today, October 7, look for the giveaway tix to the Lucky Shops VIP event in NYC. Future sales: include M2 designs and Malin & Goetz. Use CHICSTEALS as your exclusive invitation code at, and don’t forget to sign up for both the lifestyle giveaways that can begin at any moment, as well as reminders to know the instant something amazing goes on sale.

RUE LA LA A $725 python leather Kooba tote marked down to $295? Check. $325 Cole Haan leopard-print slingbacks for only $128? Fab. A $2195 silk Michael Kors coat for a mere $495? Uber-steal. At, ooh la la happens every day thanks to amazing markdowns on coveted brands not only on women’s clothing, jewelry, and accessories, but also men’s, children’s, and homewares. Featuring items from lines such as Helmut Lang, UGG, John Hardy, Rich & Skinny Denim, and Via Spiga, each sale occurs only a few at a time and is only available for only 48-72 hours – and many boutiques sell out completely within the first few hours. Upcoming boutiques: Kay Unger, Magaschoni, Henckels Cutlery, and Victorinox men’s, luggage, and jewelry. For access, go to, click on “Invited by a Member” and then enter the code (And don’t forget to choose text or email reminders for upcoming sales!)

REGENT’S SECRET Online since January 2008, Regent’s Secret is the newest gal on the block in the world of members-only shopping sites. With its underground feel and youthf

ul urban-style merchandise discounted up to 70% off, it’s a fashion-forward destination for fans of Ed Hardy, LOVE Yaya, Trunk Ltd, Missoni, Evisu, and Dolce & Gabbana. Usually offering numerous sales at once (but for a limited-time only), and with a number of pieces available from each brand, you’re sure to find something you love that’s amazingly affordable (many items are marked down to around $100 or less). Get that young Hollywood look with wide-leg jeans from Chip + Pepper, a pair of oversized Just Cavalli Sunglasses, a sweatshirt from Faith Connexion, and a pair of A.B.S. Allen Schwartz platform pumps. Sales coming soon: Kastle Jeans, Linea Pelle Collection, and Etro. Look for Bulgari jewelry which ends Oct 9. To register for Regent’s Secret, CLICK HERE.

And, if you’re simply looking for an online shopping site that anyone can join, try, which features 12-48 online sales of brand-name items, direct from the manufacturers. (We recently spotted Collette Malouf hair accessories, Maya Brenner jewelry, Sweetface dresses, and Nicole Miller separates on sale for 60% off.)
If there are any high-priced pieces you’d like me to find similar, less costly versions of, please email me at carlyjcais AT fashiontribes DOT com. ‘Til next week, fellow bargain-hunters!
– Carly J. Cais
(fashion illustrations at top & right – Arturo Elena)


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