How to shop the Summer Sales

Black sleeveless dress on a grey hanger. Wire hanger in the background. image is for a blog on Sales Time and what to buy in the sales

It’s Sales Time and the (online) sales season is with us.

You may be grateful not to have to go out shopping anymore, or you may really miss being able to pop in to your favourite store and peruse the rails.

We are certainly living in unusual times.

Different countries are in different stages of lockdown, work has transferred to home working as much as possible.

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Whilst many social routines are out of the window this year, the summer sales are a welcome vision of normality, social pattern and perhaps a comforting reminder that life goes on, even at a time when so much of the pattern of our lives has changed.

I personally love the sales time and I believe you should too.  Where I differ from many other women of my acquaintance is in my approach to the whole process of sales time.

Sales time can be a really valuable buying expedition for your wardrobe, with strategic purchases making valuable additions to your wardrobe years to come.

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3 commons mistakes women make with their wardrobe

Three mistakes that I often see women make regarding their attitude towards their clothes are these:

          You think of clothes as individual pieces, not as part of the whole

  1. You think of your clothes as individual pieces, and not as part of the whole collection of items that you own.  When you buy items you just think in terms of “do I like this” and buy it.  Or, you  might want something new in your wardrobe and you just go and buy it without thinking about what you already have in that close of yours.

    You are not consciously running your wardrobe as you do the rest of your life

  2. You are not in charge of your wardrobe and running it as you would any other part of your life.  For example, we understand that our car needs maintenance: it needs tax, MOT certificate, petrol/gas/diesel in to make it work, cleaning, regular tyre checks and servicing.  Our wardrobes, on the other hand, are expected to perate at peak performance without any form of maintenance from us.  How well are you looking after your clothes?  Are you regularly cleaning and ironing them?  Are you making sure that they are on the correct hangers of beautifully folded?  Are your shoes in good repair?  Clean and polished, with heels and soles that have plenty of life in them?  Have you sewn buttons back on, fixed zips, and fixed hems?  You need to take care of your clothes in the same way that you take care of all your other possessions.

    You are not curating your clothes and thinking of how the collection hangs together

  3. You’re not curating your clothes.  You need to think of your clothes as a whole collection.  That collection represents your life.  If you think of an art gallery or art exhibition, each work of art is carefully considered in its own right before being included in the collection.  When it is included the work of art is again carefully considered alongside each other work of art in the collection in order that an arrangement of the pieces will result in an ensemble of work where the group is greater than each individual piece.  Of course, each item in the collection has a value of its own, and of course there are star of the show art attractions.  However, the art collection shows the individual pieces in such a way that each individual piece is shown to its best advantage, both within the group and as a work of art in its own right.It is the same with your clothes.  Your role, as art curator, is to go to work on your individual items of clothing and bring them together as a whole.  Items should come into your wardrobe because they will compliment and enhance the pieces that you already have in there.  It is your role to do that.

    Use these 3 criteria to approach the summer sales

    Back to our current situation, the summer sales.  Approach the sales with those 3 criteria in mind:

    1. You are buying for the entire collection, not just as individual pieces.
    2. You are running your wardrobe as you would any other part of your life: your department at work; your car; your home; the children.  It is no different.
    3. You are curating your collection.  Each article of clothing that comes into your wardrobe needs to be able to fit into the collection that you are creating.  You need to love it, value it, and want it in the collection.

Black sleeveless dress on a grey hanger. Wire hanger in the background. image is for a blog on Sales Time and what to buy in the sales


Categories of items to buy at sales time

So, let’s look at what a strategic approach to sales time looks like.  Sales times are the perfect occasion to buy:

  1. classic pieces
  2. wardrobe staples
  3. expensive one-off purchases
  4. duplicates of items you already own and love
  5. an on-trend item
  6. a “named brand” items
  7. accessories

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Items you should definitely avoid buying at sales time

Without concentrating too much on the negative, these are items you definitely should not be buying:

  1. anything you are unsure about – don’t take a risk if you’re not 100%
  2. anything that doesn’t fit
  3. anything you are buying purely because it’s reduced

Don’t purchase items in the sales in either of these two emotional states

Additionally, you should not be buying anything, let alone in the sales, when:

  1. the urge to buy is the motivating factor.  In other words you want to buy simply to purchase and have the thrill of the sales transaction and the bag.
  2. You want an emotional pick me up.  Your clothes have enough work to do without also picking up the role of “emotional whoopee cushion” to quote King Julian in Madagascar.  If you feel you need an emotional pick me up, deal with your mind first and once you have done that, go and make a purchase that makes your heart sing.  But don’t mix the two up.

Returning to the list of items to buy, let’s have a quick look at them in more depth:

Classic pieces

This will vary slightly according to your individual circumstances but generally means:

little black dress, suit, coat, classic shift dress

Wardrobe staples

Whatever you wear every day, or regularly and could use either additional items of or replacement for:

underwear, tights, socks, pullover that you always wear such as black polo neck, white tee

Expensive one-off purchases

These are purchases that you are only going to make occasionally.  However with these purchases you probably want to buy quality items so it makes good sense to find them in the sale if you can.  You should always be on the look-out for these purchases.  Don’t be in a hurry to buy an item that isn’t quite right.  It’s worth waiting for the thrill of finding an item which is just perfect for you.  Items in this category include:

coat, leather gloves, hat, pashminas and wraps, an evening dress, a party dress or ball dress and simple items in luxury fabrics eg silk velvet, cashmere

Duplication of items you already own and love

If you have items in your wardrobe that you love and regularly then buy another.  You can buy it in the same colour, or buy it in a different colour.  If you have a favourite pair of shoes, for example, and you find that they are on sale, then buy another pair.  I’m about to do this with a pair of trainers, not workout trainers, but wear with trousers trainers.  I bought them in snakeskin print (not real snakeskin) and I really love them with my cream linen trousers.  They are on sale currently so I will purchase another pair.

An on-trend item

Although I would prefer you to buy classic styles and shapes in the sales, there are times when buying an on-trend item in the sale might be a good wardrobe investment.  You can buy on-trend items in the sales if you feel that they will be on-trend for a while and that you will enjoy wearing them for more than a few seasons and they already fit into your wardrobe.

A “named brand” item

Items like a Burberry Mac, a Prada or Chanel bag, Hunter wellies, Hermes scarf.  These items are often not put on sale.  If they are put on sale, the reduction may be minimum.  If you can afford them and they will be a good long-term investment for you then buy them even with the small reduction.  5% or 10% is still a saving.


Sales time are absolutely perfect for buying accessories.  Accessories freshen up any outfit and make an existing outfit look and feel completely new.  Accessories are nearly always in the sale because the new season’s accessories will be lining up ready to go out into the world and stores around the world will want to be able to sell this season’s accessories.  It’s the perfect time to pick up shoes, bags, sunglasses, scarves and belts.  They are all good sales purchases.  But again, they are good purchases if you have planned for them in advance and/or you know exactly what you want to buy.

Black sleeveless dress on a grey hanger. Wire hanger in the background. image is for a blog on Sales Time and what to buy in the sales

You need a Sales Time Plan

Before you make a start on your sales purchases, you need a plan.  The plan needs to include:

  1. a list of items you would like to purchase
  2. an anticipated budget for your sales purchase(s)

A list of items you would like to purchase

You can divide this list into 2 – items you definitely need and items it would be nice to have

An anticipated budget for your sales purchase(s)

There are various approaches.  What they have in common is the goal of keeping track of your spending.  Whilst you are definitely saving money in the sales, you are still spending your money, so you need to be keeping control of that.  You could use any one of these approaches:

  1. Have a total figure you want to spend
  2. Have one figure you want to spend and one figure for the one-off purchases you want to make
  3. Have a figure in mind for an individual item.  For example if you want to buy a belt.  Imagine what the retail value of that belt would be, say, £40 or £80.  Then decide what level of reduction you are going to look for, for example 50%.  So you are going to look to purchase belts at 50% reduction (or more) so your anticipated spend it going to be £20, or £40.

As sales progress reductions get bigger.  One year I found a pair of shoes that matched a dress perfectly.  The shoes were £239, reduced to £99.  I waited another week.  A new little red dot appeared on the shoe, £69.  I checked, there were 2 pairs in my size.  I waited another week, can you believe it, they were reduced to £39.

Why you should plan your sales purchases in advance

There are a few advantages to planning out your sales purchases like this:

  1. It makes your shopping planned and organised and puts you in control of your budget and your finances.
  2. It turns the whole event into a game: a hunt.
  3. It makes you ore strategic in what you buy : it stops impulse purchases of items you don’t need or don’t like enough to wear.  You can keep an ongoing list of items to buy.  You could also keep an additional list of sales items that family members might need.
  4. It contains the whole process. Sales come round regularly.  Don’t get caught up in thinking that you won’t ever get a chance to buy that item ever again.  You will.  Don’t exceed your budget.  Stay organised.

And, finally…..

Armed with these strategies:

You know what common mistakes women make with their wardrobe (and how to course correct on that)

You know what categories to concentrate on

You’ve made a list of items you are going to look for

You’ve sorted your brain and you’re not going to indulge in randomly emotional purchases

You have a budget of what you want to spend

You don’t need to panic because sales come around regularly.  Wait for that perfect item

You are good to go!  Enjoy those sales, spend wisely, and get your wardrobe filled with great value purchases which you will love and wear for many years to come.

Have  a great day,



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