How to shop the sales like a pro

Black Friday here we come

Some people approach sales season like a pro. They are prepared and ruthless – and not at all overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clothes on offer.

Others have brilliant intentions; they know the sales season is about to start. They merrily create digital wishlists throughout the year. And then the sales begin, and, before they know it, everyone in their office has snapped up a pair of discounted designer shoes in the Net-A-Porter sale except them.

The rest of us throw ourselves into sales shopping with gusto, rushing around like demented mice before becoming completely overwhelmed and abandoning the whole thing altogether.

If either of these latter categories sounds familiar, then don’t panic. Don’t PANIC.

It is possible to shop the sales like a pro. But first it’s important to understand a little more about the sales – which have become an industry unto themselves.

RELATED: This is what we’ll be buying in the Matches Fashion sale 

For the uninitiated, Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the US. (It’s tomorrow BTW.) It’s aligned to Thanksgiving weekend, and generally marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Over the years, more and more retailers have rushed to offer bargains to meet demand – hence the rise of the Black Friday juggernaut. And although Cyber Monday has traditionally been the online version of Black Friday, savvy shoppers know that many bargains go online on Friday (so don’t hold out for Monday!

(Credit: Getty)

But it’s important to know that the sales of 2016 are not the same as the sales of our youth.

“Sales used to be twice-yearly events,” says marie claire’s fashion editor-at-large Clare Press, the author of Wardrobe Crisis, book about how the fashion system works. “I remember getting excited about the January sales when, if you were lucky, you could score that dress you’d been lusting over all season at a reduced price.

“Then January was nudged back to Boxing Day, then pre-Christmas, now sales begin at the end of November, but customers expect the discounts to keep on coming. “We have been trained to want – to expect – to pay ‘less than retail’.” So what do brands do? “They plan for it, of course.”

“Sales aren’t just about clearing unsold stock,” explains Press. “They represent big business for retailers, and therefore big opportunities to make profits, not just claw them back. The bigger brands build discounting into their stock projections, and in some cases design items specifically to be sold at a so-called ‘discount’, or slashed prices – except these prices are illusory.

So there you have it: approach sales with the same prudence you’d apply to non-sale items – because in a sense, the “sales factor” is illusory.

And don’t feel cheap for putting off purchases until sales season starts. You’re not the only one waiting for that fabulous pairs of Gucci velvet platforms to go on sale on Matches Fashion– according to the Bain & Company’s annual global luxury study, more than a third of all luxury fashion is sold on sale.

Here are out tips to help you nail the sales:

Set your alarm. Seriously. Many sales start at midnight, or even earlier the night before. You know how it goes: first in, best…

To find out when your favourite brand goes on sale, visit StyledBy marie claire

Sign up to email newsletters:  Subscribers are alerted the moment sales start, and sometimes get first dibs before discounts are opened up to everyone else.

Make a list of what you need:  It might sound basic, but preparation is key. Purchases should fall into two categories: up-and-coming trends or wardrobe staple you’ll know you’ll get tons of wear out of. Other things to consider: do you already own a similar style? Can you see yourself wearing it at least three different ways? Is the fabric and cut even vaguely practical? Will you need to have it altered?

Pre-game: Have ‘wish list’ items already in your basket so you can proceed straight to purchase. 

Refine, refine, refine! If you’re searching a large site like MatchesFashion or Netaporter for bargains, then use the filter sidebar. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a piece only to discover it’s not available in your size.


Don’t be seduced: Nothing is a bargain if it’s going to gather dust in the back of your closet.

Check the returns policy, set a budget and know when to quit: Enough said.  

RELATED: This is what we’ll be buying in the Net-a-Porter sale 

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