The best websites for designer discounts (fancy clothes and accessories on the cheap-ish)

Falls wrap halter top on Hautelook (was $220, now $50)Falls wrap halter top on Hautelook (was $220, now $50)We all get the itch to treat ourselves to something luxurious and high-style, but during these trying financial times, with the big R looming like a Goodyear blimp over your front door, this desire makes one feel crazy and foolish. However, there are ways to fulfill a designer fix without totally wrecking your budget. In the past year, members-only discount websites have become increasingly popular-they're basically like virtual sample sales, without the vicious competition or having to get half naked in front of strangers in order to try something on. Some of these sites are great, some are limited, but most offer big ticket items at up to 80 percent savings. This won't help so much for a $1,700 Gucci bag, but it does come in mighty handy for that $300 pair of jeans you've had your eye on, or the $200 dress you loved but couldn't justify the cost.

We've rounded up four of the most useful online discount destinations on the Web, the ones that tempt us daily, and those with which we've actually had success.
Check them out.

Hautelook.com
Right now, this is my favorite place to browse for unbelievably cheap designer stuff. The sales-which last between 36 and 72 hours-change daily and the designers vary from those you know (Chanel, Foley+Corinna, Seven for all Mankind jeans) to those that are less familiar (like today's sale on Falls). I love the obscure picks the most, the pieces are unusual and beautiful and the prices are, on balance, less expensive, usually in the $50-$100 range. You can also find sales on children's clothing and stuff for men. The service is free-sign up at www.hautelook.com.



Badjoan.com
If small, up-and-coming indie labels are your thing, you must head over to badjoan.com. The site sells sample and overstock items from an array of lesser known designers-all at 80 percent off retail prices. Shoppers click on the specific item they want, send Joan an email, and receive a return message with a special discount code that entitles you to discounts throughout the whole store.

Best of all, Joan (a self-proclaimed shopaholic) deals directly with the designers, which means buying with her helps these small businesses thrive .







Shopittome.com
I wrote about Shop it to Me last spring, before Shine was even alive. Since then I've bought a ton of things from my daily email alerts-including several dirt-cheap pieces from the gap and a deeply discounted Rachel Palley dress I wore to a wedding. Here was my write up last year:
The set up is this: You sign-up and choose your preferences (women's, men's, girls' or boys' items), select the brands you're interested in (there are hundreds of options, ranging from Prada to Free People), click on the kinds of pieces you want (dresses, bags) and plug in your sizes. The company will then email you daily or weekly-your choice-whenever it finds something that fits your specifications. Other useful tools include letting you pick a price cap for all your pieces, and a "take a break" function for if (and when?) things get really out of control.

Gilt Groupe

Gilt Groupe is the fanciest and most exclusive of all of the sites I've mentioned so far. It's a private, members-only spot that you can only access if you've been invited to join (however, I think I found a loophole-it appears as if you can become a member by emailing them here). Once you're in however, the membership is free and includes 70 percent savings on big-time lines like Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Gucci, and Marchesa.

I haven't tried them yet, but my serious fashionista friends swear by this spot. Take a look at gilt.com