Miss B: I originally published this post a year ago during sales month in London. But because a lot more readers have joined me since then (hello, everyone!), and because I’m constantly emailed and asked about how to build a quality wardrobe on a budget, I thought I’d re-post this as we’re again in the full throes of sale season.
Re-reading my year-old advice reminds me just how a good shopping strategy never dates. In short, buy little, but buy the best quality you can afford. And absolutely do save up for the sales – it’s a great way to buy into luxury brands at high street prices, and if something is a wonderful buy and true to your style, it will look marvellous in your wardrobe long after the store’s seasonal schedules have moved on.
Go forth, and good luck with your bargain treasure hunting!
I do love a good sale. But to emerge victorious, yet also with the budget, style and dignity in tact, one has to be strategic or it all goes awry very quickly indeed. So, to help sort out your strategy for heading into (sales) battle, here are my top tactical tips to live by come sale month. Above all, know your budget and make a plan beforehand!
1. Know your limits: This applies to both budget and time. Know how much you’re willing to spend and how many hours you can spare before you set out. And stick to it! This saves wasting your precious time and money, and getting caught up in the flurry of not being able to resist things just because they’re on sale but then regretting the blowout afterwards.
2. Make a plan: These sales get ridiculously chaotic – clothes flying everywhere, no shop assistants to spare, and girls who suddenly forget all semblance of politeness. The only way to avoid a) getting stressed, and b) wandering about aimlessly is to plan which stores and sections you want to visit first. Order according to the stores you know you like best, which will be the most popular, and where the best bargains are to be had. Whatever you’re looking for, put your blinkers on, don’t get distracted and move strategically. In the case of online sales, prepare a ‘wish list’ by putting things you would be willing to buy at full price in your shopping basket the week before the sale starts. Set a budget and on sale day, only buy those items in your wish list which have been reduced (to the limit of your budget) – this way you won’t get caught up in the moment and get distracted by everything else on sale you wouldn’t normally have considered.
3. Know what you want: As with making a plan, this helps you determine where to head first and avoid being distracted by everything else. If you’re only looking for new shoes, then don’t wander into homewares or clothing ‘just to have a look’ – you’re bound to see something else that you suddenly want. Another good tip is to scope out the store or site a couple of days before the sale starts (ask the sales assistants when this will be if it’s not publicised). That way you can make a list of what you want and head straight for those items in the sale. On Net-a-Porter I add things to my wishlist the day before and then as soon as the sale starts head to this to see what has been discounted. It can be yours straightaway without being distracted by the things you don’t need.
4. Be realistic: If you can’t walk in heels (and don’t have the luxury of a chauffeur), then are those sky-high platform Miu Miu swallow print sandals really going to work? Is that dress that’s a size too small and made for a model with the legs of a baby giraffe really flattering, even if it is the last Marc Jacobs dress left? Remember to only buy things that genuinely flatter you and work with your everyday life.
5. Stay true to your style: It sounds obvious, but if you’re normally all about vintage feminine lacy dresses, then getting caught up in the hype of a cropped Alexander Wang khaki midriff sweatshirt because it’s ‘in’ and makes sense at the time. Just because something is on sale and looks amazing on the models, doesn’t mean it will work for you when you get home. Don’t get swayed by trends that are not for you, or by items you feel you have to have simply because they’re a designer label on sale. Stop, picture what you love to wear, and only buy into that.
6. Would you pay full price? Ask yourself this: ‘if this item were not on sale, would I still be willing to pay full price for it?’ If the answer is ‘no’, then put it back. The only exception to this is something you’ve genuinely loved and wanted, but couldn’t afford at full price. In this case, grab it now and enjoy the bargain!
Do you have any tips for tackling the sales?
Love, Miss B xx
* Illustration by me