By Andrea Woroch
Sunglasses and summer go hand-in-hand and many shoppers will prep for the first of the season by grabbing a new pair shades. Protecting the eyes from harmful rays isn’t a top priority as more consumers focus on style and brand over function, spending anywhere from $200 to $600 on a single pair of designer sunglasses.
Although these prices may shock you, CNBC reports that many Americans are increasingly willing to dish out big dollars on high-end sunglasses. Industry experts attribute the rise in sales to an increase in the selection of brands and styles along with celebrity influence. There’s also the notion that a $300 pair of luxury sunglasses is an attainable designer good compared to a $2,000 handbag, and fulfills the desire to wear a high-end fashion label such as Gucci or Prada.
Whatever the reason for driving sales, the rising cost of this summer staple is outrageous, especially since it’s a commonly misplaced and broken accessory. If you’re vying for a luxury brand, review these sunglass shopping tips to reduce costs.
Size ’em up.
A quick way to waste money on designer sunglasses is to purchase a pair you spotted on your favorite celeb without considering how they look on you! Test multiple styles at a store before buying, or purchase from sites like Nordstrom or Piperlime to avoid delivery and return fees. Also, check out Warby Parker’s freeHome Try-On program, which lets you choose up to five styles to wear for five days before deciding on the one that fits you best. The site also offers a Virtual Try-On option in which you upload a picture to test various styles from your computer.
Do your research.
Now that you know which sunglasses fit your face best, it’s time to research prices before you splurge. TheFind.com is a comparison search engine for all things fashion and will point you to the cheapest prices on just about any pair of sunglasses. A quick Internet search will also uncover similar trends from last season that are typically sold at a lower price so you can get the look for much less.
Consider second-hand shades.
From your local consignment store to online shops that specialize in used designer goods like YoogisCloset.com, you can find like-new designer shades at a fraction of the retail price. For example, a used pair of Tom Ford’s popular Cat Eye sunglasses are nearly $200 less than a new pair. eBay is another great resource for shopping gently-used designer duds.
Snag outlet steals.
Before you head to the mall, pop over to an outlet center to browse a wide selection of sunglass brands at Saks Off the Rack and other discount stores. Even Sunglass Hut offers outlet sales online for savings of up to 50 percent (though you have to create an account). For instance, you can snag Ray Ban Aviators for $105 compared to the original retail price of $210.
Buy a discount gift card.
You can find discount gift cards for speciality sunglass retailers as well as department stores that sell high-end shades at sites like GiftCardGranny.com. For instance, Sunglass Hut gift cards are offered for 11-percent off and Bloomingdales gift cards are available for 17-percent off. Combine discount gift cards with store sales and printable coupons from sites like CouponSherpa.com to maximize the discount. You can even track price drops using Hukkster so you know the cheapest time to buy.
Don’t forget about discounters.
I am always astounded by the expansive selection of designer brands and on-trend fashion at my local Marshalls. Recently, I found Joe’s skinny jeans, Steve Madden sandals and a Nicole Miller dress at 60-percent off. That’s why I recommend searching this retailer along with other discounters like TJMaxx and even Overstock.com to find the best prices on designer sunglasses. In fact, TJMaxx recently debuted its online department for sunglasses, offering such designers as Ted Baker, Cole Haan and even Stella McCartney.
Being a smart shopper means following sales, but who has time to browse deals each day? Instead, let the sales come to you and sign up for free, member-only flash sale sites that email you with feature sales on the most popular brands. Sites like Gilt Group and MyHabit.com often feature discounts of 50 to 60 percent off designer eyewear and sunglasses from brands like Ray Ban, Alexander McQueen and Carrera.
Keep cheap pairs handy.
If you recently splurged on a new pair of shades then be wise about how you use them. If you’re going on a boat ride or on a camping trip this summer, leave your high-end glasses at home and wear a cheap pair. I learned this the hard way after a pair of designer sunglasses were blown off my face during a jet skiing trip in Florida.
I recently lost a second pair of $150 Ray Ban sunglasses which I bought to replace the first pair, and have since vowed to kick designer shades for good. Follow my lead to stop wasting money on overpriced sunglasses! You can find styles that look just like the name-brand shades for a minor cost. If you need another reason to move away from brand-name sunglasses, consider this CBS 60 Minutes report that explains how the world’s largest eyewear company, Luxottica, controls the sunglass market and takes advantage of shoppers.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.