Ah, sales shopping. That frenzied time of year when women of all ages and intellect race out and completely lose sense of who they are. Can I do grunge? Sure! Am I a womanly woman, one in need of a circle skirt? Why not! Am I a shoe size 37? Yes! At a (very) tight squeeze. For 50 to 70 per cent off, we can brave any blister and be any woman the sale rail demands us to be. We can also hold off significant purchases until the sales hit. As Roberta Benteler, founder of Avenue 32 has told us in the past, the full price trading period has been “drastically shortened” as customers hold out for the ever-earlier sales. That also means that your fellow shoppers will be even more frenzied when the discounts arrive. It’s a battleground out there and you need to be properly equipped. How to avert financial disaster? Take note of Vogue’s sales shopping rules.
Don’t be seduced by the discount
However much of a saving the label promises, nothing is a bargain if it’s simply going to hang in the back of your wardrobe, unworn. According to WRAP, a leading body on resource efficiency, consumers in Britain have an estimated £30 billion worth of unworn clothes hanging in their wardrobes. Consider whether you would pay full price for the item as you weigh up whether you would wear it or not.
Futureproof your purchases
Make smart investments – think about what’s coming next season. Consider, too, what you actually need. What are the gaps in your wardrobe that need filling? Don’t buy something that needs a sartorial partner before you can wear it (you are unlikely to find it and will only end up adding to a problem, not solving it).
Check your social calendar
Take into account upcoming events: weddings, parties, black-tie galas. The sales are a great opportunity to pick up a special black tie dress with big savings, avoiding that last-minute panic buy at twice the price when the event rolls around.
Inspect items thoroughly
Scrutinise the quality of every purchase you make – these are clothes that have been lingering around on the shop floor for at least six months. Look for pulls, snags, holes and pen marks before you pay; most sale items are non-returnable (some stores will offer an exchange but rarely a refund).
Only buy something that fits
Don’t buy anything ill-fitting with the intention of getting it tailored unless you really mean it. If you’re in need of a great tailor, Beautiful Tailor Studio at 17 Bruton Place, W1 is the best I know. (Most of the boutiques on Bond Street use it if they don’t already have an in-house seamstress.)
A final word of advice: a few half-hearted sale purchases can add up to one new-season item, so do the maths and weigh up which you want more.