I’m sure you all have been invited to Rue La La, Idelli, or Shop It To Me at least once or twice in the past couple of months. Sale sites like them are popping up all over the worldwide-web, but the question is are the deals good, is it worth buying from them? Well, after a little experience I’d like to offer my two sense on a few.

Shop It To Me: This site was totally my idea, but unfortunately the creators beat me to it! Shop It is a little different than some of the other sites I will review below. Shop It To Me began after one too many frustrating trips to on-line retailers. The creators were tired of finding out about on-line sales too late and were too busy to spend hours each day searching the web for the latest deals. The site essentially let’s you choose from a HUGE list of brands (300 and counting) and then will send a daily, twice weekly or weekly email with a list of all items that have gone on sale (or further on sale) from your selected designers. Then, when you click on a featured item it takes you directly to the retailers website.

This is a great way to keep an eye on those Tory Burch flats, Milly dress, or Theory pants you’ve been eyeing,but don’t want to pay full price for. However, buyer beware, items that are featured can sell out fast, so if you see something you  REALLY want, click on it quick! They feature all the normal retailers like J. Crew, Saks, Shopbop and even Bluefly. If you invite enough friends to the service you can earn points for gift certificates. All in all it’s a great thing to get once or twice a week to keep you in the loop about online sales! To sign up just click here.

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Rue La La: This is the only site I’ve actually bought something from! Rue La La is an invitation only online shopping destination where members can purchase items from private sale boutiques each open for 2 days at a time. You get an almost daily alert email from them listing current and upcoming boutiques. Each one opens at 11am est and lasts 48 hours. I’ve seen everything from Botkier, to Life is Good (ugh laymens brand). So, clothes, housewares, accessories, linens, kids clothing, luggage and even menswear. They are across the board.

As far as prices, they seem good to me, I ordered my sister a $450 clutch for $150, it came quickly, and she LOVES it. Things do sell out, but if you go into a sale by 12pm (an hour after going live) you usually have your pick of almost everything! Rue La La also allows you to return an item, whereas some other sites do not. To join you need to be invited by a current member, so if you want to be part of the club let me know and I’ll do the rest…

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Ideeli: This site was the first online sample sale site to emerge and the first site I was introduced to (via Mom who learned about it via Oprah) and I am sorry to say it’s my least favorite. There are two levels of membership Second Row, which is free and First Row, which is $7 a month. First Row members get first pick at the sales and it seems like with a Second Row membership your chances of getting a hot item are pretty slim. Items go on sale to First Row members first (makes sense) and then the lowly Second Row members get the pickings of the rest. Ideeli’s main focus is accessories (Gucci Shades, Abaco Bags) , rather than clothing. And, their sale times are “secret,” members get an email shortly before an iteam goes on sale.

They only have one boutique at a time, whereas most of the others have 2 to 4. I’ve seen some pretty nice stuff on the site, but the prices don’t even seem that amazing and with the premium members snatching up the good stuff, it’s probably not worth your time to pay too much attention to what’s on sale. I usually delete the emails before even looking at them, unless I see a “Botkier” or a “Tory” in the subject line! Though they were the first, I think they need to follow their competitors leads and get with the program.

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Gilt Groupe: This site is pretty much the same as Rue La La, just with a different color scheme. They have around 4 boutiques going at a time of womenswear, meanswear, accessories, etc. Guilt does tend to stick to designer brands, whereas Rue La La does let brands like Puma slip in from time to time. They send you a weekly preview email and then boutiques start each weekday at 12pm est and last for two days. Popular items do sell out pretty fast, so if you see a brand you like get there right at high noon! Also, it is invite only, you just have to be invited by a friend, but I can do that for you if you let me know. Once somebody you have invited makes their first purchase the inviter gets a gift certificate.

However, one thing I have found is that their prices are not the lowest around, 2 examples. First, I saw the Missoni dress I just bought last month on Gilt. The dress was from the fall 2008 collection, so it was WAY on sale at Nordstrom, and to my delight, the price on Gilt was HIGHER! Next, yesterday I spotted a Marc Jacobs shirt from fall 2007 (so we are talking more than a year ago) that was also more than what I paid at Bloomingdales a year ago! I mean come on Gilt, it’s totally fine to sell something a year old, all the sites are selling older merchandise, but charge accordingly.

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All in all these sites are a fun way to search for deals and to keep an eye on, but unless you find something you really love, you might be better off just going to a store. It sure seems I’ve had better luck with that. But of course, before you go to the store follow the sales on Shop It To Me first!

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