This is the best and worst time of year for shopping. The sales are on! Finally, a chance to squash your toes into the Balenciaga knife boots for half the price - hurrah! Sadly, there is a price to pay; it’s wading through racks of stuff. The scrum for the best bargains and sale rails can easily devalue highly desirable pieces to market rags. It's amazing how presentation effects our buying psych. I find myself scanning through unable to find anything and inthrall of the bargain and not the item. It’s at this point, when I have gone into a shopping trance that I try to remember the “rules” I make for myself….
1 Ignore the price tag. This should be the rule when LOOKING for anything. Firstly, you must be drawn to the items that you really love. It's far too easy to be swayed by the discount. But the thrill of 90% off quickly goes away when you give it to charity a year later having only worn it once. Plus £10 is still too much to waste on a "bargain" when it could be put towards something else really special. Of course, upon finding something, then check if you can afford it and whether it’s worth selling a kidney for.
2 Do you need it? I had to apply this one firmly last week. In Liberty’s, trying on the very last beige shirt in my size by The Row. Beautifully cut, exquisitely made with sleeves that would be perfect next year. In fact, it looked very like Celine prefall. And the discount: £975 down to £390…. Too tempting to miss?? I decided that it would be if I didn’t already have 6 other similar neutral blouses in my wardrobe. I put myself/fate to test and continued shopping. Instead, I found 4 other items for a similar amount that I didn’t have in my selfish wardrobe. I still think about the shirt though.
3 Forget the designer. The sales are often a time when I feel it legitimate to set my brand heights much higher than usual (see above – Err, WHEN, would I, EVER look at The Row for more than inspiration?!). And one can easily find oneself wandering into unfamiliar territory in the department stores (think Harrod’s superbrands) as though it’s Topshop. Before you know it, you have a Dries Van Noten embellished dress draped over your shoulders. Now, I plan to be buried in Dries but it’s highly unlikely that even with 50% off I will be donning one of his frocks this summer without selling one of the kids (maybe Rose). Don’t let the trance take over otherwise you may find yourself crying on Celine’s marble floor realising that 60% reduced still requires re-mortgaging the house.
4 Shop for the future. I know you have had your eye on the pompom trim, bellow sleeve gingham blouse for ages now but how much wear will you really get out if it. This summer for sure, what about next? You can get a lot of value out of the sales if you keep an eye to the future. In the back of your wardrobe mind needs to be winter and next summer at least. And if you can do it, this is a fantastic time to buy classic knitwear, outerwear and Acne. Or something like white shoes that you know will be a key item for a few seasons.
5 A life-long love. I don’t believe that every piece needs to be a classic because where is the fun in that?! But I would pause from price tag giddiness and really question how much you love it. My very best sale purchase EVER was a Pringle sheepskin coat. Big, grey, curly hair with knitted rams horn motif on the top. Pretty mad but I totally fell for it. Had to ring Oli to ask if he minded me spending our newlywed savings on it. It was £500 (in 2009) reduced from £2000. I feel as though I have spent the full 2K whenever I wear it and I have worn it every winter since. It is the most amazing piece. It will be boxed for my daughters when I grow too old.
6 What is it worth? This is your final check and encompasses all of the above. I like to imagine that I don’t know what the price is and decide what I would pay for it regardless. You love it? Check. You don’t have 8 other similar pieces? Check. You will still love it in 10 years? Check. You would pay more for it than is written on the tag? Yes? It’s yours!!! Take it home to join your happy closet club, conscience clear. Of course you could be doing overtime for the next 2 years to pay for it but you know that it’s worth it.
DB tailored jacket: Isabel Marant Etoile at Liberty's £370 reduced to £130 Spotty dress: Sandro £239 reduced to £167 Bomber jacket: &other stories £95 reduced to £28 NB: the links are not as good as the deals I've found in store. Best to hit the shops!
All photos taken courtesy of the wonderful Lilla. Instagram @lillasphoto