Christmas is over so let the sale shopping commence. Even if you have hit the shops already to hunt down the hottest bargains (who can blame you really as they were slashing their prices pre-Christmas due to poor sales exacerbated by the poor British weather), here’s some advice to take heed of so you don’t throw your pennies down the drain. Yup, you guessed it here’s how to shop smart in the sales 2014.
1. Compare the prices
Stop thinking that this only applies to techno gizmos and kitchen gadgets (TVs, microwaves, laptops and George Foreman grills etc.) and start applying this mentality to everything that you’ve got your beady eye on. Yes, it’s a bit extra work but you may save even more money. Let’s look at my Barbour Gold label Alice Temperley jacket as a case in point. Ever since I’d seen this luxury puffa-style jacket with a furry hood online, I knew it belonged in my wardrobe. The only sticky point was the rather high price-tag. So I waited…and waited…and waited…until one day, low and behold, it was on sale on My-Wardrobe Then my instincts kicked in and told me that if it was on sale on this lux shopping site, it would be on sale elsewhere. Come Boxing Day that year, I used the mighty search engines at my disposal and found the beaut for about £30 less at none other than Harrods. It may have taken me a few extra minutes (like 30 or something) but the savings were worth it.
2. Keep within your budget
It is oh so easy to get carried away when shopping in the sales. Oh, it’s only £25 down from £75 and I can’t resist this Liberty scarf that was £250 now £125, and what about those shoes, my goodness, I need them in my life too and there a snip at £200 down from £400. STOP. BREATHE. BUDGET. Think realistically what you can afford to spend before you hit the sales and don’t be drawn in to overspend as you may well pay for it later. Whether that means buying one key item at a discounted price or an outfit, make a decision on the amount of money beforehand. A good way of doing this is by simply withdrawing cash from the machine and once it’s gone, it’s gone. If you don’t like carrying large amounts of dosh on your person, be strict with yourself. By sticking to your guns, you’ll also help youself make decisions between purchases that you really will wear and use or flash-in-the-pan, once seen then forgotten.
3. Take a trip to the store
When it’s cold and wet, the last thing you really want to do is traipse around the shops getting sodden as you try to avoid the frequent downpours. But when it comes to clothes shopping, heading to the shops may save you time and money in the long run. Think about it, once there you can try things on to make sure they fit. Yes, the queues to the changing rooms are a major downside but at least you don’t have to head to your local post office to send that item back if it doesn’t come up to scratch. What’s more, you can snap up the cut-price items there and then. I love the ease of shopping online and certainly take advantage when it comes to technology and premium homeware (I’m currently hunting down some Le Creuset stainless steel pans and have been amazed at what has surfaced on the web) but am also aware that sometimes you can save more by stepping outside your front door. Department stores are always a good place to start. The sheer amount of stock they have, concessions and the like, means you don’t have to go from store to store. If you’re shopping with your partner, there maybe something for them too and you may find even more of a discount on premium brand items. Most big retailers (I’m talking chain boutiques such as Whistles, Jaeger etc…) do not share their stock with their online stores, which means you may discover something that is no longer available on their web shop. I swear I saw an amazing pencil skirt for £30 (bargain) from Whistles in their Hampstead store, which is not available online. So make a plan, get there early and you can revamp your wardrobe in 2014 for less.
4. Choose wisely
When it comes to sales shopping, there is always the urge to spend money on something because it is reduced. In a way, it’s like being drunk. Flexing that credit card seems like a good idea at the time, throw caution to the wind, it’s only money at the end of the day, and we’re talking 75 percent off. But when you’ve sobered up and finally unpacked your shopping bags from the sales, you find that even with the massive discounts buying that item was a mistake. But to save face, you shove the said dress to the back of the wardrobe and come back to it time after time, but it never really cuts the mustard. Hmm, it’s a bit too revealing, , too young, too conservative, not the right shade of grey, whatever the excuse, the fact is you’re never really going to wear it. I’ve been there and done it many a time. You’ve got to be brutally honest with yourself and go for pieces that you know you will wear again and again. And they may well be at the top end of your spending budget. I’m talking cashmere sweaters (now £99 at Jaeger), designer jeans (80 percent off at Sojeans.co.uk), classic shirt dresses, pumps, items that do cost a bob or two. Then again, I make sure that I look after them and wear them well. You don’t have to be a fashion killjoy and you can always find something that will suit your personality. I picked up an amazing Holly Fulton acid yellow dress from a pop-up store in Hackney. I’ve worn it once already and know it will have a few outings this year. Just ask yourself, will I wear it? And is it really worth that amount of money?
5. Take stock
Oh yes, the only time I will mix fashion and audit in one sentence. Go through your wardrobe and chuck out any old pants, holey socks and items you wear regularly and replace them with equally decent but discounted clothing. No matter how many times you wash that white shirt, it’s starting to look a little grey and grubby around the cuff and collar. Pass it onto your local charity store or homeless shelter and stock up on those basics. I also like to pick up new sportswear at this time of year (Sweaty Betty fans get in there quick as their sale ends tonight January 8). You may tell yourself that you will sew up the holes in your socks. Really? Again find a way to recycle them (I had a quick look around the internet and apparently St Michael’s Hospice accepts old socks) and buy yourself some decent new pairs. The New Year is a great time to both detox and retox your wardrobe.
Have fun while the sales still last and shop smart to save more. Do you have any sales tips or bargains you want to share with me?