It’s sales time. But before you head out into My True Care the fray, arm yourself with these tips – and tales – from our fashion team. A bargain will be yours in no time.
My sales bargain was a pair of Valentino “Rockstud” ballet slippers, the slightly pointy leather ones with the triangular studs. I got them online at the end of the sale season for £75. I would never have bought them for full price – all these years, I have been making the classic error of splurging on beautiful hurty-hurty shoes and scrimping on flat shoes because they seem less exciting. But having flat, bottom-of-my-workbag shoes that I loved was actually life-changing. I have always resolved to have nice flats that I am proud of now (even if I buy them on the last day of the sale).
My best sales triumph was a black Balenciaga silk top with long sleeves and buttons all the way along the horizontal plane. It was from the Selfridges sale for about £100. I’ve had it for eight years at least, and I’ve washed it lots of times in the machine, and it’s never got ruined. So my sales lesson is to go for just three brands you know you always like in a big department store and go for the cheapest thing that fits you. You will find an occasion to wear it, no question.
I love sale shopping, but I don’t go until the last week. This means I don’t know what I’ve missed; I don’t watch things obsessively, and so I have fewer regrets. When everything is 70% or 80% off, it might be the luck of the draw, but that’s part of the game. My best score was a Christopher Kane skirt, which was 90% off at Harvey Nichols. It was a size too big, but I got it altered and now wear it all the time. With a certain sense of smugness, I must admit.
I’d stalked this red Miu Miu dress on The Outnet for months. Then I got a notice they were having a 50%-off-everything sale starting from 10 am on Thursday. So I was at my laptop from 9:50, put the dress in my size in my shopping bag, and as soon as it was 10 am, I pressed PLAY. And that was how I did it! I got it marked down from £1,100 to £180 – result. Also, I bought a Miu Miu blue mohair jacket marked down from £1,300 to £150. But it sadly was too big, so I had to send it back. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. When it comes to sales, buy. You can return later.
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I bought a Burberry navy wool coat, a lifetime investment piece from Selfridges that should have been about £2,000 reduced to £595. I paid for it on my credit card and then cleared the payment in three months. I felt, even with interest on the card, I got a deal and a timeless Burberry coat.
Some of my best sale buys have been online, from the comfort of my bed. It’s the only way to do it now. Given that I spend a large percentage of my time (window) shopping for a living, I can’t really be bothered with the queuing, pushing, getting hot, and bothered at the January sales, especially when there are copious amounts of Quality Street that need eating at home. I got a great pair of sandals from Zara for £20 that look like Alaïa, and no one, including me, ever saw them in-store. And a pair of Proenza Schouler heels for £99 from net-a-porter.com that have proved to be both fail-safe and – that holy grail of heels – comfortable all day.
British people don’t much like to barter. It’s hard to haggle with a stiff upper lip. And yet I suggest you try it, based on the following anecdote. A friend of mine decided she didn’t want to see any more of last year’s cold snap out without a Penfield Hoosac parka. If you’re not familiar, the quilted down of these coats makes you feel as if you’ve gone out in a particularly stylish duvet. Unfortunately the cost, even on sale, was more than my friend could afford.
One day, she ummed and aahed over it in a London boutique until the shop assistant finally offered her money off, as the sale was about to end and the coat would be old stock anyway. So if there is something you’ve got your eye on but can’t afford even at a discount, be sure to head to individual boutiques and independent shops at the end of January and make an offer. It’s probably not worth trying in Topshop, but away from the chain stores, you never know what a bit of haggling will get you.