beauty

Where to shop when you've got Champagne taste on a beer budget.

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By BERN MORLEY

Sometimes, I honestly believe that I was supposed be born into aristocracy. How else do I explain my attraction to the finer things in life?

In fact, I would say that I was born with the little-known affliction of ‘champagne taste on a beer budget’. It’s like I’ve got this inbuilt radar that detects good quality, often high-end fashion with just a glance. Unfortunately though, I also have this other, more insistent voice driven by my bank balance that is always quietly telling me to just calm the heck down.

So when I had children, that same radar just about melted down. I mean, have you SEEN the beautiful and cool clothes you can buy children?

Suddenly the world opened up to me in ways I could never have imagined.  Cute kids clothes are my kryptonite but so is my husband’s disapproving looks, so I had to learn fairly fast how to become the kind of shopper who could still find beautiful, high-end, quality labels and be able to somehow make it feel like I had actually saved him money by shopping in the right places.

So this is where I let you in on my secret. One I thought I had left behind in Queensland but have been thrilled to realise I can now take advantage of here in Melbourne. It’s a little place called Trade Secret.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this is an advertorial for Trade Secret.

When I had my first child, 15 years ago, I was walking into the big department stores and falling in love with the beautiful, tiny outfits, WISHING I could afford them. There were outlet stores nearby, sure, but they were usually full of leftover items that their main stores couldn’t sell. And this is where Trade Secret was so wonderfully different. They had and still have current, new season stock, for up to 60% less than what you’d pay at a regular retailer. They manage this feat by negotiating great deals on their products directly with the brands and then passing those savings onto the customer. If this doesn’t feel like it can be true, then let me tell you more.

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IP_038_20141110-_M3_5030I was obviously always on the lookout for clothes for not only myself, but my husband also. As a surfer, he would sometimes pay through the nose for a t-shirt simply because of a small logo. When I brought him home that same t-shirt from Trade Secret and made him guess the price one day, he was stunned into silence. Something, I can tell you, that doesn’t happen all that often.

It wasn’t long until I realised that Trade Secret was also the perfect place to buy gifts. As a member of a large family, we always had a $30 per child gift limit on Christmas and it made me supremely happy to be able to see their (parents’) faces when they would unwrap a beautiful Osh Kosh B’Gosh outfit, instantly accusing me of going over my limit. I was then able to share with them my bargain hunting prowess.

I think what I like best about the store though is that the range is forever changing. New stock arrives DAILY and is placed at the front of the store. Also helpful is that clothing is arranged in sizes. I love this most when I am searching for bras. I cannot tell you how hard it is to find my particular size and I can only come to the conclusion that I have the most common sized breasts in Australia.

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There are also those hidden gems, ones you might find only at Trade Secret, a one off. It’s almost like a personal fashion treasure hunt.

I am busting to tell you about the brands but I doubt you’d even believe me. Okay, maybe just a few – like Bonds, David Lawrence, Calvin Klein, French Connection, Ben Sherman, Industrie, Levis, Sheridan, Scanpan and more. And like I said before, all of these are current season and at up to 60% off what you’d pay in other stores.

To discover late last week that I now had access to five of these stores within driving distance reignited my fashion flame. And after walking through the store on Saturday with an armload of clothes for all five of us, it took me back to when my daughter was just a baby and I was shopping for Bonds Wondersuits. What a gorgeous time of life.

I guess the beautiful thing is that Trade Secret grows with us as a family and so it will always be a great place to shop.

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

T secret logoAt Trade Secret you’ll find top brand fashion & homewares for up to 60% off other stores prices everyday.  We deal direct with designers to negotiate incredible deals on this season’s fashion & homewares and then pass those savings on. New stock arrives everyday, so there’s something to discover on every visit! 

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram @tradesecret_aus, and share your amazing TS finds using the hashtag #tradesecrettreasure.

For Mamamia readers, we’re giving you the chance to win one of three Italian designer handbags valued at $579ea.  Click here to be in the running! Terms & conditions apply.

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