Fashion presenter and stylist, Lorna Weightman is no stranger to shopping and her best tip is the old boy scout motto — be prepared. “Planning is key”, says Weightman.
“Take some time to go through your wardrobe in advance of hitting the sales to see what you really need. We get so caught up with seeking out bargains that we forget to check if our ultimate steal is ever going to be worn, or if it matches anything we have.”
Weightman also advises arming yourself with a list of what you need. “If you do, your sales shopping becomes more focused and you are less likely to come home with something that was bought in the heat of finding a bargain”.
If you want to be really smart, don’t let your planning stop there. If you are hitting the high street, plan what shops you want to check out and try to get there as early as possible before the crowds descend.
It’ll be easier to browse, with shorter queues for changing rooms and less people in line to pay — so less stress all around. If the only time frame you’ve got to check out the sales is your lunchbreak then choose one or two shops maximum and leave it at that.
Attempting a swoop and snatch operation in Zara, River Island, H&M and then Topshop in an hour is a bad idea. You’ll wind up back at your desk angry, sweaty and starving, with only a pair of hotpants and a kimono that you will never wear to show for it.
“This might sound obvious” say Weightman, “but wear something comfortable to sales shop… My go-to is my favourite runners, jeans and t-shirt. Try and wear light layers so you don’t overheat in the mayhem of the shops when they are busy.
I always wear a cross-body bag so that my hands are free to rummage through the rails.” This is sage advice. Wrestling out of a button down playsuit in a cramped dressing room is hell.
Opt for a dress you can pull over your head and slip on trainers or sandals. Sticking a bottle of water and a trusty Tracker bar in your bag is also sensible, no you aren’t going trekking In Nepal, but low blood sugar and decision-making are a horrible couple.
If you shop alone you’ll get more done in a shorter time frame and it also eliminates the possibility of wanting to maim any of your friends or family if they pick up a leather jacket with 70% off in your size before you do.
If you are worried about not having a second opinion, forget asking the sales assistant, take a long hard look at what you have on in the mirror and ask your self:
- Does this fit me perfectly?
- Is it flattering?
- And where and when will I wear it next?
If you are still unsure, leave it behind or ask if the store will hold it for an hour while you get a coffee and regroup.
Some people love the ‘buzz’ of shopping but frankly I’d much prefer to browse from the comfort of my bed with a slice of peanut butter on toast hanging out of my mouth.
While online shopping doesn’t offer the instant ‘hit’ of the high street, it has some major advantages — everything delivered to your door and you can try things on at your leisure with your other clothes.
Register in advance with your favourite stores for sales alerts via email if you are really keen to get in first. Lots of online fashion retailers like ASOS offer ‘Watch this’ functions or alerts that let you keep a sneaky eye on an item and ping you an email if it gets further reduced.
The sales are a brilliant for finding bags, shoes and jewellery that could add some spice to your existing wardrobe.
Even if you hate the sales and only shop once or twice a year — you may as well take the opportunity to replace or upgrade the things you use or wear to death. Comfiest pair of jeans going threadbare? See if you can bag the same pair again cheaper.
Or are you favourite Nike runners falling to bits? There’s a good chance with a bit of research you’ll be able to find a similar pair while the prices are slashed.
Fashion people are nuts about ‘seasons’ and have sneakily introduced mid-season collections to entice you to buy all year round.
Of course, during the summer sales there are rails upon rails of reduced sarongs, summer dresses and bikinis, but you live in Ireland, so spend approximately one per cent of your life wearing any of these items.
Look for out-of-season steals, especially if you shop online — good boots, coats and knits are likely to be a better investment than flimsy summer skirts and sandals.
There is no way to say this without sounding like Eddie Hobbs, but have you considered your budget? Figure out what you have to spend and then stick to it.
Remember to check the refund and returns policy before you commit to buying anything - lots of shops offer a full refund on unworn items (with the tags still on) for up to 15 days, but others have less flexible policies so don’t get caught out.
Make sure you get receipts for everything and keep them in one place.
Yes, you’ll find yourself trying on full length ball gown a size too small and thinking ‘but if I loose 4lbs’ or ‘if one of my friends gets engaged this would be perfect’ but we all know that’s crazy talk, so put the ball gown down, and step back sister.
Buying things that don’t fit you is the ultimate sales shopping sin. Unless you yourself are a great tailor, or you know one who charges reasonable prices, then buying something badly damaged or that needs major alterations is a fool’s game and a false economy.
Alexa Chung once said: “I only buy something if I love it.” Okay, so she’s not the Dali Lama, but she has a point here. Don’t buy it because it has 60% off, don’t buy it because you might wear it to work, only buy it if you can’t live without it. And Alexa, and if you’d like a piece of advice in return — treat yourself to pizza.