Flash sale sites, also called sample sale sites, used to only be known to fashion junkies and those in the know but have become more mainstream over the last few years. However, I find that most of the general online shopping public still are not aware that flash sale sites exist or even if they do, shop them. Flash sales can be a great way to add new and interesting pieces to your wardrobe from head to toe.

Flash sale sites are a great resource for apparel, accessories, shoes, home furnishings, and various other items. Sales change daily and offer a wide selection of products. The way sample sale sites work is that each day, usually between 10-12 EST, products are available to purchase for a few days or until sold out, whichever one comes first. You must be a member of each site to purchase.

One of the best part about sample sale sites is that hard to find brands or sold out/discontinued products in retail stores can be found on the site. They also can carry regional brands that one normally would not have exposure to. Additionally, great (really great deals) can be found on sample sale sites. For example, I have bought a $500+ (retail) Theory suit for under $150. Almost all sites carry work staple brands like Theory, Rebecca Roy, Tory Burch, Anne Klein, and Calvin Klein.

While sample sale sites are a great place to buy there are also some drawbacks. First, you (sometimes) have to make decisions to purchase items rather quickly. Once you add an item to your cart it is held for 10-15 minutes but then is available for someone else to buy so if you really think you want it you should probably buy it. Secondly, you must read the return policy for each item. Return policies can vary depending on the type of item and type of sale so always read each items return policy. Last, check for similar prices elsewhere. If you are wondering if an item really is a great deal, do a search for the brand on the web or through ShopStyle. This can give you a better idea if it is a great deal or if you could find it elsewhere for a similar or cheaper price. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite sample sale sites below for you to try. Almost all of them have phone aps that can also be used to access the sites. I would also recommend bookmarking the sites and turning off the daily email reminders, they tend to get annoying and clog your inbox.

Hautelook Sales start at 11AM EST, a great place to find casual and professional attire. I tend to find they have great accessory and beauty sales as well.

Rue La La – Sales start at 10AM EST, probably the best overall sample site in terms of quality of brands and variety, including men, home, and children. Most sales are moderately priced but sometimes high end and couture sales occur.

Ideeli – Sales start at 12AM EST (11AM for 1st row members). Products range from inexpensive to expensive. They also have specific sales for workwear, petites, and other categories.

Gilt – Sales start at 12AM EST. Possibly the best known flash sale site (thanks to Gossip Girl). It carries lots of moderate to high end brands as well as city deals (if you live in a major city).

Ivory Trunk – An exclusively high-end site (think Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Missoni) for apparel and accessories.

My Habit – Amazon’s contribution to the flash site world. Has great variety and the most sales offered at one time.

Mode-Sty – This site does not launch until the fall but will focus on moderate/conservative (but trendy) professional attire. Its a new model for flash sale sites and I am interested to see its debut.

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