What Is A 'Reverse Dupe,' And Why Should You Check For One Before Making A Purchase?

How many times have you gone browsing through a department store and spotted the absolute cutest heels you've ever laid eyes on? You're all set to take them with you to the register — they're even from a ritzy brand name, yay! — until you flip around the price tag and see it's got three zeroes tacked onto the end. You place them back on the shelf, tearfully swearing to return for them next paycheck and praying they will still be there.

It's a situation many of us are familiar with. Be it shoes or clothing, when you're excited about buying a specific product, finding out there's no way you can afford it can sour your mood. To save money and a lot of frustration, many shoppers are turning to the world of "dupes" instead of high-priced designer products. Dupes are similarly styled to their brand name counterparts, but are often much, much cheaper.

The problem with dupes is that you sometimes have to sacrifice quality or comfort, and sometimes both, when you downgrade from the designer item you really want. This issue has led some shoppers to invest their time in a similar technique that's got everyone talking. It's called "reverse dupes" and they may be the best thing that's ever happened in the world of online shopping.

Get a one-up on fast fashion

Finding affordable fashion dupes is pretty simple. Here's an example of how to do it: you see an amazing bag for $800 at a Gucci store. Instead of shelling out that much cash, you go elsewhere and purchase a non-designer bag that looks like the mirror image of the original bag, except it will cost you maybe half the price. Dupes are a great way not to go broke during a shopping spree but still get the styles and products you actually love in your closet. It's not limited to real-life finds, either. You can easily find dupes using the visual search function at online retailers such as Amazon or Walmart's Trendgetters.

A reverse dupe works like the original dupe but flips the process on its head. You're going to love this next part. Instead of searching for a fast fashion alternative through Amazon, secure your reverse dupe by spotting the lower quality item you like first, then use it to buy a designer substitute for, get this, even cheaper. A designer item for less than a department store find? It sounds a little too good to be true, but the process works like a charm. The #reversedupe creator @cambriaistrying uses the technique to find all sorts of stylish designer pieces that cost even less than something you'd find at Target.

You will be proud of your purchases

To get started, you need to find your inspiration item from an online retailer that specializes in fast fashion. Once you've got a picture of it saved, head to your favorite designer reseller. Sites likes TheRealReal offer lightly used designer items at just a fraction of their original cost. It may take a bit of digging, but you can turn up some amazing finds on these websites that will look similar to your inspiration piece. Plus, they're from designer brands so you know you're getting comfort, quality, and longevity with each reverse dupe you find. There are so many plusses to buying from consignment stores like this. Our favorite advantage is that it rescues clothes from winding up in a landfill, thus doing our environment some much-needed good.

If you need a little extra help, you can try asking on Reddit to enlist assistance from fellow fashion enthusiasts in your search for the perfect reverse dupe.