It’s sales time again – here’s how not to go mad in the rush.
Today is the first full day of the sales and the shops are supposedly full of irresistible opportunities to snap up a bargain.
Except, they’re not, this year. It’s all turned pear-shaped for many retailers, with a combination of awful weather and a continuing recession keeping people at home until the last minute before Christmas, and many people also choosing to shop online instead.
My sales shopping this year will be boring in the extreme – replacing the dishwasher that broke down three years ago and which we could never afford to repair. I’ve indulged myself with plenty of clothes anyway lately, buying up vintage coats as soon as the weather turned bitter, back in November.
Nevertheless, if you’re heading out to face the ravening hoards, consider these approaches to the sales.
1 Stock up on basics: jeans, underwear, cashmere sweaters, white cotton or cream silk blouses, tights, black shoes for work, black stretch side-zip trousers. Boring maybe, but they’ll give you tons of mileage.
2 Look for clothes that plug the holes in your wardrobe. We all have these: the right trouser, the right shoe, the blouse with the exact right neckline. Make a list of items that would make your current clothing more usable and flexible, and search for those.
3 If you’re after something specific, such as a party frock, head only for those shops that will offer you the best chance of getting what you want – don’t get distracted by everything else in the mall. Take any accessories you’ll be wearing with you, so you can see how the whole look goes together.
4 Try going to shops you’d love to shop at but normally can’t afford. When I lived in London, I’d hit South Molton Street and New Bond Street before everywhere else.
5 Dress for success. Wear comfortable slip-off shoes that you can walk in for long periods but which don’t hamper you when trying on trousers and skirts; a button-down or zip-off cardi or top so that you don’t have to pull things over your head; black or nude tights and a black or nude sleeveless vest that keeps you pretty well covered in the changing room (or even outside it, if push comes to shove) and also creates a neat silhouette over which you can try blouses, sweaters etc.
6 Time your day. For tops, accessories, coats or jackets, you can afford to shop in the morning. If you’re looking for bottom halves (skirts or trousers), or dresses with a waistband, shop in the afternoon after a good lunch. That way you will get a better fit, as you’ll have a full stomach and will be retaining some fluid. Shoes and boots are best bought at the end of the day when you’ve had time to walk around and your feet have spread somewhat. Plan some comfort breaks – lunch, mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee, and if you can, take a small bottle of water and a snack in your bag so you don’t slump from those dehydrated or low blood-sugar moments.
Lastly, set a budget. Whether it’s £50 or £500, stick to it. Draw the cash out of the bank and take it with you in a secure bag. Leave your credit cards at home. We all know it’s far too easy to get carried away otherwise.