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Luxe for less: Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci

The first thing you notice when you step inside the tony boutique in Boca Raton is the gleaming table of Louis Vuitton handbags surrounded by Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo shoes.

But at Encore Plus, one of several high-end consignment shops in South Florida, you won't find stratospheric retail pricetags that put these brands out of reach for most of us.

If you dream of owning arm candy from LV, Chanel or Hermes that costs thousands new, the consignments sell these luxe looks for less, offering up to 75 percent off gently used designer duds, accessories and jewelry for women and men.

"You will find the most wonderful things at terrific prices in these stores. Many of the items are new or were worn only once," says Paulette Cooper Nobel, Palm Beach author of "Bargain Shopping in Southeast Florida," a guide to 250 consignment and thrift stores ($17.95 at

These high-end shops are like tiny exclusive department stores where the proprietors know the 411 on all the top designers and offer service that rivals Neiman Marcus.

At Couture Upsale Consign in Fort Lauderdale, owners Sandra and Tomas Wedle guarantee the handbags they sell are authentic. They're happy to show how to spot a fake.

Noble says you don't have to spend a hundred to look like a million.

"You can't return merchandisee, so thoroughly check to make sure it's in good condition before you make a purchase and if you see it, buy it, because it won't be there tomorrow," she says.

Price isn't the only reason to stop and shop.

"There is great variety in these stores that makes it fun to shop. You'll find European fashions and unusual and interesting things to buy that make it very serendipitous."

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