Sales season has begun, and shoppers are snapping up designer goodies they’ve been eyeing for the past few months at a fraction of the original price. Although sales provide the perfect opportunity to add must-have items to your wardrobe without breaking the bank, there are pitfalls. Otherwise sensible women with a good sense of style can find themselves buying horrific items that will probably stay in the closet, or spending far too much money. To avoid committing any heinous fashion crimes or squandering your children’s college fund, it’s important to have a clear mind before heading into battle.
Before entering a sales zone, do some groundwork. Top of the list is an up-to-date wardrobe inventory to decide what you really need.
“Everyone has a tendency to buy the same items over and over,” says image adviser Eve Roth Lindsay from Savvy Style, colour me beautiful HK. “Have a good look at your wardrobe and get rid of anything you aren’t wearing. If you like it, keep it – but make a note to replace items that you throw out.”
Get your shopping list ready and don’t forget to add anything you’ve seen in the shops but couldn’t afford. To avoid wasting time, Lindsay suggests calling the store to see if the item is still in stock in your size, and asking them to hold it until you get there. (Larger stores will hold a sale item for up to one day, although policies vary). Don’t forget to check online as well – you’ll often find better deals and larger inventories.
“It’s also worth visiting shops that are normally above your price range. They often have some of the best reductions and because the clothes are better made, they’ll last that much longer,” says Lindsay.
Timing is vital to get the best out of sales. Always visit twice – once at the start and then towards the end. “At the start of the sales, you’ll get the best selection of discounted items,” says blogger Sara Goldstein of www.bargainqueen.org. “It’s the best time to shop for shoes (there’s a bigger range of sizes), underwear (especially if you want matching sets) and desirable items like designer jeans that will sell out quickly. Later in the sales, the markdowns are steeper – but most of the best stuff will be sold already. It’s still worth looking through all those racks for the few great things that are left though, because you’ll get them for almost nothing.”
“Don’t fall in love with a great price,” says Ellen McNally, author of Shop in Hong Kong : An insider’s guide. “Make sure the item looks great on you and fits your lifestyle. Ask yourself on what occasions and how many times you’ll wear it. Will you really get use out of it?”
Avoid anything that you need to alter, or items that you’re convinced will fit after your detox plan – it’s never going to happen, and if it does, it may not look right on your slimmer body.
Instead, choose items that are classic and will last for years, such as a tuxedo jacket, a well cut suit, good quality shirts or a little black or white dress. Good quality fabric is important, so take advantage of good deals on luxury materials, such as cashmere and silk. It’s also a good time to stock up on occasion wear.
“Shoppers should look out for shoes because you can never have enough shoes,” says Carrie Mok, personal shopper at Harvey Nichols. “Evening dresses can be useful when those balls or special events come up.”
McNally advises keeping an eye out for accessories you wouldn’t normally buy because of the cost. “A great accessory can transform the way you look, and now you can afford it,” she says.
Anything that’s too trendy or instantly recognisable is a no-no. That means Prada’s rainbow-coloured turbans and Stella McCartney’s puff-sleeved dresses are out – unless you want to look as if you’ve been through a time warp. Be prepared to spend more on classic pieces. Only buy something trendy that’s heavily marked down. Some stores drag out old stock from past seasons during sales, so keep this in mind when selecting items.
Look for styles that fit properly – a good fit is one that’s slightly loose. Keep in mind that return/exchange policies are different during sales, so inspect the garment carefully for any damage or discolouration. Remember, it’s better to walk out of a sale with one great piece that you’ll wear for a long time than a heap of clothes that will never see daylight.
This season there are many summer items that will still look great in autumn. Mok recommends anything gold, metallic pieces and accessories such as chunky platform shoes and big bags. Other transitional items include high-waisted trousers / jeans, belts (wide and thin), parkas and T-shirts or knits for easy layering.
“My final tip is to choose what you wear carefully and make sure you can try things on easily,” says Goldstein. “Think slip-on shoes and minimal layers – you don’t want to have to take off three different garments just to try on a T-shirt. It can also work well to wear very tight clothes so you can try things on straight over the top or a loose skirt you can slip things under. You never know if there’ll be a change room free.”