AH, sale 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. But then, is it any wonder we are so enticed when those department store advertising campaigns are so seductive? “Buy me, I’ll change your life!“, screams a chain of high end department stores, while another gently whispers in our other ear, “There is only one sale.
The Rules:
It’s a battleground out there and you need to be properly equipped. Firstly, don’t ever be seduced by the discount – however much of a saving, nothing is a bargain if it’s simply going to hang in the back of your wardrobe. 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.
Make smart investments – think about what’s coming next (autumn/winter 2013-14 heads up: pink, punk, grunge, plaid and Fifties tailoring will see you through winter and beyond – but only if it feels like you). It might sound basic, but consider 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).
Take into account upcoming events – weddings, parties, black-tie galas. Sales are a great opportunity to pick up a dress with big savings, rather than a last-minute panic buy at twice the price.
Scrutinize 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).
Don’t buy anything ill-fitting with the intention of getting it tailored unless you really mean it.
A final word of advice: remember, a few half-hearted sale purchases can add up to one new-season item – so weigh up which you want more.

Published in Vogue