This weekend's Wall Street Journal features (subscription required) an interesting discussion between Alan Murray and Laura Landro. the two debate the question "Is it possible to give luxury gifts on a budget and not look like a miser?"
The debate is certainly worth reading and I'm going to come down somewhere in the middle: It depends on who you're buying for. If you're buying for a complete label-whore, it's probably a lose-lose. Sure, sites like BlueFly.com have good deals on luxury goods, and even Overstock.com has a Prada toiletry bag for $129.99. 51% off.
But the problem with buying cut-price couture is that it's on sale for a reason, and an "OMG, that's so last season" Regina George-type diva probably won't be impressed. And, she'll know that you were shopping at a -- gasp -- discount store.
I know this seems harsh, but I actually do know people like this, and you won't be doing them any favors by buying them discounted Dior. If you're shopping for slightly less fashion-forward types who still appreciate quality and brand names, you can probably impress the hell out of them with something like this Francesco Biasia handbag -- 38% off on Overstock.
What if you're, to use Murray's language, shopping to "satisfy her Bordeaux tastes on your Budweiser budget"? You might do well to sidestep clothing all together and go with a gift that a person with those interests would also enjoy: a gift certificate to a salon and a subscription to a fashion magazine perhaps?
And if you have a friend who is trying to buy herself Bordeaux on her Budweiser budget, a copy of The Budget Fashionista might be in order.
Is discount couture a good gift? It depends.