I know, I know. You’re thinking, who needs the sales right? The sun is (finally) shining and the thought of going into town….are they really worth the hassle? To be harangued, cajoled and elbowed down Oxford street.
Although I’ll hazard a guess that sooner or later, you’ll take a sneaky peak and, being human after all, this will lead to another sneaky peak and before you know it, you’ll be struggling home with armfuls of carrier bags, mumbling to yourself that the hot pink skirt with a lace trim you’ve just bagged is clearly a timeless classic in a post modern, ironic sort of way, and with about a metre lopped off (or one eye shut), it could pass for a vintage Christopher Kane wonder. Well sort of.
Which is why I think you need a sales strategy. One, where you are focused and unfazed …even by the inconsistencies of a size 12. I’m writing about the sales because I LOVE them. And this from a fashion editor who, over the years has been lucky enough to receive designer discounts and more than her fair share of invites to sample sales. True, I am Chinese and therefore genetically disposed to consume, but the reason I love the sales is that they are the opportunity to buy considered items for your wardrobe that you would never normally be able to afford otherwise. I love how if you have a plan, you not only make enormous savings but find clothes that will have true staying power in your wardrobe.
This summer promises to be a bumper crop of goods since, as befits the current fashion mood, designers have been dutiful at producing what fashion editors call “wardrobe staples.” Not to mention the 50-70% discounts being offered in the first days – this clearly is no time to sit things out.
At the heart of my love for sales is the mantra “buy less, buy better’. This is important to remember at all times. It does not mean digging around in the £10 dregs bin but looking instead, for something that will survive three washes.
Before you head out, I always think it’s a good idea to take a long, hard, dispassionate look at the clothes you already own – could this be a time for a clear-out? – and then work out the gaps in your wardrobe. The sort of wardrobe staples or ‘linking’ pieces you think would enliven other items you love. Have these at the back of your mind. If you don’t find what you are looking for, don’t settle for anything less.
Also, remember to be specific. If you need a new coat, ask yourself what sort of a coat is it? Is it to sling over a cocktail dress, or something more classic in neutral tones that you can wear every day to work? Should it be the knee-length or would it be practical if you experimented with a fashion-forward three-quarter-length one? Will it be worn with trousers or skirts and dresses? You are beginning to see that not all coats were created equal.
Once that’s been decided (usually the hard part), make a list and work out your budget. It’s also a good idea to promise to eradicate from your wardrobe at least as much as you haul home at the end of your expedition. Don’t prioritise the high-street: prices are already so competitive that anything worth having generally sells out at full price. Good luck and happy shopping.
Attempt a few favourite shops at a time.
There’s no point trying to ‘shop’ the whole city in a day. You’ll only end up cranky, exhausted and frustrated that you didn’t find anything or more likely the wrong thing. Remember this isn’t a supermarket sweep. It’s a good idea to start at the top end of your budget. Not only will this set the benchmark for quality but the savings you make will be proportionately greater than anything you might buy on the high-street.
Shoes are often the first thing to go in the sales, so head there before you do anything else.
Patience is a virtue
Don’t panic buy the first thing you come across in the 50% reduction bin. Although expensive style statements are often snapped up at the beginning of the season, there are plenty of variations of the ‘it’ bag or shoe that will make their way into the sales. It might not be the gold lame version that the press went wild for but in a year’s time this will probably be a good thing and you will end up with an item that hopefully has some style longevity. If you’ve always wanted a designer bag or signature style designer shoes but have been unable to afford the steep prices then now is a great time to investigate. Trends in accessories do not change as swiftly as for clothes.
Saving the best for last
Sometimes, just sometimes, the last few days can produce a few gems. It’s certainly when the mark downs are biggest. There might be less choice but that will undoubtedly make you more focused.
The perfect dress
What are sales for if you can’t treat yourself to one knockout dress, the sort you would never buy yourself otherwise?
Canny style mavens will be looking ahead to Autumn/Winter already. Which means snapping up any saddle bags (the new hand bag shape of choice) or a duster coat, the unsung item in your wardrobe.
A summer holiday wardrobe
This doesn’t really change from year to year. Summer equals a pretty dress (usually in white linen or broderie anglaise)+ pretty sandals + a raffia bag. So buy the best versions you can afford and you’ll still be wearing them in ten years time.
And finally, you can never have too many…
The sales are a brilliant time to find great quality cashmere, sportswear, lingerie and kidswear (nearly all my kids’ clothes are bought in the sales). Plan well and believe me, you won’t want to pay full price for anything ever again.