For most Brits luxury items have had to fall by the wayside until the economic climate looks a little bit rosier, but for some the lure of the designer label is just too much to resist.
Thankfully there are now a host of internet sites, outlet stores and bargains to be had if you know where to look. Check out our top tips for finding the good stuff at the right prices.
A successful bargain hunter knows that a little patience is key to finding a hidden gem, and discount stores are a case in point. TK Maxx might look like a jumble sale at first glance, but set aside a few hours to work your way through the racks and you'll find these stores often throw up a bargain high-end piece.
Alternatively head to your nearest outlet centre such as Bicester Village, where it's possible to find lush designer labels at seriously low prices, and there are similar bargains to be had at Livingstone Designer Outlet in Scotland, Bridgend in Wales and The Outlet Banbridge in Northern Ireland.
For all the discounts of the day without the physical rummaging around, online outlet stores offer an easy stay-at-home alternative. Just as with stores like TK Maxx, you might have to spend an hour or two searching through a few misses before you land on a hit, but sites such as Yoox and The Outnet can turn out to be veritable treasure troves. Since the best deals are on end-of-season gear and not the latest catwalk creations, it pays to side with classic, timeless and adaptable pieces, but with prices reduced by up to 80 per cent, they're definitely worth a serious browse. For the cream of the crop at unbelievable discounts, make sure you're aware of their sale dates.
If you are not after the very latest in haute couture or are keen to get your hands on some vintage masterpieces, then the Internet could have the answer.
While you'll need to stick to reputable shops (do check the feedback) and search for items with a guarantee of authenticity, eBay is still a source of reasonably priced, genuine gear. But if you are wary of parting with your hard-earned cash and ending up with a cheap fake, turn to Chic and Seek, where every item is checked to ensure it's the real thing. For high-end vintage pieces, Covetique and Asos Marketplace are also worth a look.
Samples and secrets
Sample sales have long been a source of ex-display or slightly blemished items that have often come straight off the catwalk. And while most tend to be found in the capital, anyone close to London should sign up to Sample Sales London, where you'll be tipped off as to the latest events and clearance sales.
For those who further afield, secret and flash sale sites are the way to go. Often featuring a particular brand or designer, they're ideal for anyone that spotted a to-die-for piece on the catwalks, and offer savings of up to 70 per cent.
Register as a member on sites such as Secret Sales, Cocosa and Brand Alley and get news of these super sales as they pop up.
It's a well-known fact that the average woman has a number of ill-advised purchases gathering dust at the back of her wardrobe, but just because it's not for you, doesn't mean someone else won't make it work.
Clear out your unwanted items and take to the Internet for a spot of fashion swap shopping at Swap Style or Covert Candy, where you can immerse yourself in the 'swishing' trend and exchange your never-worns for must-haves. Alternatively, try French site Vestiaire Collective, which allows you to simply trade in your fashion mistakes and invest in something altogether more timeless.
Are you a bargain-hunting fashionista? What advice would you give to someone looking for discount designer labels? Leave your comments below...