Oh my. It’s new year. Again.
And suddenly every shop is decked with great big colourful signs declaring that they are practically giving their stock away and you must hurry and buy now-now-now or you will miss out on fabulousness forever.
Even before we get into a shop, we’re besieged by emails these days. These were just a selection that were waiting for me in my inbox in the early hours of 2014:
Littlewoods: Sale just got BIGGER with Further Reductions…
Matalan: Happy New Year + Sale continues…
Sainsburys: SAVE up to 50% on furniture, home and electricals
Do. Not. Be. Fooled.
These shops and emails, like the fashion industry magazines, are trying to do one thing – part you from your money and convince you that you need things that you don’t.
A bargain is only a bargain if it is something that you wanted in the first place. Not because it has been reduced in price.
So let’s look at how to survive sales shopping with your temper, humour and credit rating intact.
1) Inventory your wardrobe. It’s time to figure out what you DO need, if you need anything at all. It’s the start of a whole new year and as good a time as any for a clean out. Go through all your clothing. Yes all of them. And set aside the following:
- Anything that doesn’t fit any more
- Anything which you have not worn in more than one year
- Anything which makes you exclaim ‘Oh I didn’t even know I had that’ with a shudder of horror
- Anything which is more than 10 years old, unless it is leather, silk or suede. Those things were meant to last years. Cotton and Rayon are not.
It’s hard parting with clothes, but wardrobes are not tardis-like, however much we may wish they were.
Now move onto the shoes. Clear out any of the following:
- Shoes with broken straps
- Shoes with broken soles
- Shoes with cracked insides
- Shoes which do not fit
- Shoes which make your toes feel sore within 2 minutes
- Shoes which you cannot stand up in
Out they go. Right now. All of them. Find a charity bag which was stuffed through the door, or sling them all in a bin bag. Put them out of sight.
Now survey what’s left and find the gaps.
Did you think you had an extra pair of black trousers? What happened to that cream shirt you were going to wear for the party next week? You could really do with a pair of boots to replace those ones that broke through excess wear. Write them all down. This is your sales list.
2) Now it’s time for some homework. If you’re reading this I am going to make the assumption that you have access to a computer and the internet, and your homework starts right here.
Make a list of the brands that you most reliably wear and start looking through their websites. Have they got the items in stock that you need to plug those gaps in your wardrobe? How much cheaper are they?
Would you have paid that price as a FULL price last week? Are you only interested because it’s got money off?
Do not get sucked in. These places, both the websites and the shops, are designed to make you feel inadequate, like you’re left out and lacking something and that you’re about to miss out on something that would fill that hole in you – you know, the hole that doesn’t exist because the fashion industry made it up.
Stick to your list and treat sale prices as real prices. Are you actually willing to part with the money for this item?
3) Make a list of potentials. And then either order them online (if the shop is happy to deliver for free and accept returns for no other reason than ‘I didn’t like it’ without a charge) or – make up your shopping list, find your trainers and a secure handbag and head for the high street.
I love online shopping. It has been the saviour of both my self esteem and my marriage. No more trailing hubby around the shops when he actually wants to go look at the X-Box 360 gaming deals while I hold up jumper after jumper and say ‘Would you wear this?’. No more time spent in a grump as he asks how MANY pairs of black trousers I want to try on before I pick one.
Now I just click the buttons and it all arrives in the post, and he goes through his selection in ‘yes, yes, no, no, no, yes’ fashion, forming two piles – one for the wardrobe, one for the returns bag.
It’s better for me too. I can try things on in the safety and privacy of my own room with the full length mirror, my entire accessories collection and a cup of tea to hand. Much more pleasant than braving those communal changing rooms, or the ones where the cubicles are so small that you end up with bruises all over your elbows as you fight your way in and out of clothing.
It’s a horrible part of shopping, but I do honestly believe that you should not buy any item of clothing unless you are certain that it fits. My clothing ranges from size 12 to size 18 depending on the cut, the style, the brand and whether or not it has been worn before. You cannot take the labels for granted.
Yes, you can make returns but you won’t, more than half the time. Things take root in carrier bags, languish in wardrobes, sit in their boxes waiting for ‘the next time you pop to the post office’ and all that money you spent filters down the drain without having achieved any of its purpose. So sometimes, it is just better to go and brave the fitting room and try things on.
Pack a small body spray roll on deodorant in your bag. Being surrounded by sweaty people who are stressed will make you feel grubby and grimy and this can help you freshen up. Ditto a hairbrush and a lipstick. A quick freshen up can make all the difference in those horrible changing room over-lit mirrors.
Take a spare bra. If you’re wearing a white one, that black top is going to look awful, so have a spare handy so you can see what it really looks like.
Take a pair of pop socks. No pair of high heels ever looked good with socked feed squeezed into them.
Wear comfortable clothing that’s easy to remove and put back on without getting your elbows and bra straps in a tangle. And bear in mind that you will be sick of the sight of the item by the end of the day. I have now taken to wearing something from the ‘throw out’ pile to go clothes shopping in, because then when I get home I can sling it straight in the donation bag and never see it again.
Remember – the mirrors will be tweaked to make you look fatter, drabber, more tired and more washed out than ever. These changing rooms are part of the fashion industry. They are not meant to make you feel good, they are meant to make you spend more money on trying to look better. Treat them with disdain and distrust. Get a general idea, but don’t expect a Gok Wan makeover when you turn around to face yourself.
4) Stick to your list and your budget. Do not be tempted to spend more than you can afford. I cannot emphasise this enough.
5) When you get home, try everything on again, and if you were planning to pair things up with items in your wardrobe make sure that they match before you remove the labels and lose the receipts.
Be firm with yourself.
If it’s the business, off with the tag and onto the hanger it goes immediately. And wear it within the next week if at all possible.
If it’s just not the thing, back in the bag and back to the shop the very next day. Or you won’t get around to it until the exchange policy has lapsed.
6) Bathe. Or shower. By whatever method, wash thoroughly. By the time you get home you will be frazzled, tired, aching, worn out and probably sick of the sight and smell of other people. Clean up and find some of your good humour in the bubbles and put the sales shopping experience behind you.
7) Be positive when people ask you how you got on.
Describe the clothes you loved and bought, not the price you paid or saved.
In face, in general, talking about the cost of your clothes is not a good idea, it makes you sound like you’re bragging, a cheap skate or have more money than sense, and there is no way to control which of those assumptions people will make about you.
Talk about the successes, not the failures.
Show off the things that fit, don’t talk about the things that were too small or big.
The fashion industry does enough to make us feel bad about ourselves, even when we have all the new stuff that we wanted or needed. Fight back and be positive. And enjoy all the new things you just bought 🙂
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