10 Places to Find Inexpensive Accessories

by Meg Favreau on 14 February 2011 10 comments

I'm picky with accessories. At the moment I have three pairs of earrings, a handful of necklaces, and a few purses that I really like. Perhaps because I don't buy new accessories that often, I find that when I do go shopping, I'm often floored by the prices. ($200 for a purse? A purse? As far as I'm concerned, if I'm spending $200 for a purse, it should convert into a bulletproof vest or have a tiny refrigerator inside to keep sandwiches cold.)

Unsurprisingly, when I do buy accessories, I always try to get a good deal. Here are ten of my favorite places to find inexpensive baubles, bangles, and bags.

1. T.J. Maxx

90% of the purses I've used over the last 10 years — including a sleek Nine West computer bag, a wacky-but-adorable ruffled purse, and a gorgeous grass-green leather satchel — have come from T.J. Maxx. The store offers a variety of designer clothing and accessories, high-quality home goods, and more at deep discounts. Ross and Daffy's both offer a similar selection, but T.J. Maxx remains my favorite name-brand discount store. (See also: 5 Tips for Scoring Discount Designer Handbags)

2. Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace where thousands of artists and craftspeople offer unique handmade items for sale. The wide variety of vendors means there's also a wide variety of prices for accessories ranging from jewelry to handbags to belts and even shoes. Plus, you can feel good knowing that your purchase is going directly to a small businessperson.

3. Claire's

I know that this mall staple targets the teeny-bopper set, but Clarie's can be a great store to hit when you're looking for a necklace to match a specific outfit, or when you'd like to try a new trend without investing a lot of cash. While you're at the mall, Forever 21 is also a great store to check out.

4. Vintage, Thrift, and Consignment Shops

Some of my favorite pieces are gently used items I picked up at thrift, vintage, and consignment stores, including a pristine purse that features a needlepoint portrait of a spaniel on the front. In general, a vintage store is great for finding good-quality, but older and more expensive items. Thrift stores, meanwhile, can be kind of a crapshoot, but also tend to yield yield cheaper and newer items. Right in between those two are consignment shops, which sell up-to-date, gently used clothing and accessories.

5. Overstock.com

Overstock is kind of like an online T.J. Maxx — a place where you can find discount name-brand items ranging from low-end to high-end (Gucci, anyone?). Overstock also frequently offers special sales and coupons to people on their mailing list.

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6. A Craft Store

Can't find what you want for a reasonable price? Make it yourself! Obviously, this won't work for everything — I'm not suggesting that you go buy an anvil and soldering iron and teach yourself the art of fine silversmithing — but if you've had your eye on a cowl scarf, beaded necklace, or peacock-feather earrings, your new accessory could just be a few craft supplies and an online tutorial away.

7. Friends and Family

Several of my accessories are "hand-me-ups" — accessories that my younger sister was getting rid of. I've also gotten some great items by doing clothing swaps with friends. Accessory swaps can be even better than clothing swaps, because you don't need to worry about gathering friends who are all approximately the same size.

8. Your Closet

One of my friends is currently participating in the 30 for 30 Challenge, where participants buy nothing new for 30 days, but instead challenge themselves to remix their existing wardrobe. Technically you are allowed to buy new accessories (just not clothing) during the 30 for 30 Challenge, but I think the philosophy of looking for new ways to wear existing items is great. If you have a belt that you normally wear around your hips, see how it would look around your waist. Try wearing a favorite neck scarf as a headband. And make sure to clean out your drawers and shelves — even if you don't find something old that you want to wear in a new way, you might find something you can sell or trade for a new-to-you accessory.

9. The Clearance Bin

End-of-season clearances can be great places to stock up on items for next year. Just make sure to buy things you really like and avoid anything that looks too trendy — it's no funny to squirrel away a beach bag or winter gloves if you're going to take them out the next year and decide you hate them.

10. Anywhere...with Caveats

I am a firm believer that if you truly love something and you'll continue to wear it, it's better to invest the money in high-quality goods that will last than to buy something cheap that you'll have to replace. I have a pair of red Frye boots that I purchased a few years ago. I've already had them resoled once, and they continue to be one of my favorite pieces of my wardrobe — totally worth it.

Where do you get your accessories? Are there any great places that I missed on this list?

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Guest's picture
Guest

Forever21, also. The quality's kind of cheap (they tend to lose their color after a few weeks or months), but they're very cute and very cheap. Best place to get trendy jewelry that you're not going to wear for a long time.

Meg Favreau's picture

Good call! I did mention it at the end of the Claire's paragraph, but it deserves its own highlighting. My sister reminded me of another good one as well -- H&M.

Andrea Karim's picture

I often find things at Forever 21 that I've seen for four or five times the price on ModCloth!

Guest's picture
Christie Struck

As an Etsy small business owner, I say "Yes! Etsy is an awesome place to find unique and one of a kind accessories." As a shopper, I have been there more than once. But since I make accessories for myself, I have an advantage that most others don't. :) Since my accessories are very colorful, I can make something to match almost anything that I have!

(If you want to check out my shop: www.struckmyfancy.etsy.com)

Andrea Karim's picture

I am jealous of your red Frye boots. Seriously, words can not describe how badly I would like a pair.

Meg Favreau's picture

I actually had the good fortune to find them on Overstock. They were still more than I'd like to pay, but they've been worth it. Now I regret not buying them in other colors!

Guest's picture
kris

Another great store to check out with super affordable accessories is "Charming Charlie". This store is organized by color, so if you are looking for something purple, their is a whole purple accessory section, then another for blue, pink, gold, etc... and not only to they have amazing costume jewelry, but super cute shoes, sandals and great purse selection. Prices run $5 and up. Perfect if you are on a tight budget like me. If you have this store in your city, definitely check it out. Warning - this place is very addictive ;-)

Andrea Karim's picture

I've never heard of Charming Charlie, but the OCD-like color categorization sounds like it would make shopping really fun. :)

Guest's picture

Literally in love with this post!! I have been seriously lacking the the accessory department, because I feel I shouldn't spend money of an item that can only be worn with one outfit. I recently discovered etsy and let me tell you, it is addicting! Great deals, and such cute items!

Guest's picture
kelly

I like this site, fast shipping and good prices - www.lolacharm.com