23rd Dec 2011 9:00am | By Editor
Overcome January bargain shopping fear, get those elbows ready and sniff out decent finds. Words: Clare Vooght
Sales shopping is, generally speaking, carnage. But it’s also the best time to pick up fashion deals. So, take a deep breath and get ready to do battle with a city full of angry bargain hunters – here’s our guide to searching out fashion steals.
Plan your trip
Make a list of what you want to buy. Anna Sandler, style director of fashion advice website stylelogue.co.uk, recommends splitting this into three columns – one for things you really need, a second for things you like but don’t really need and a third for luxuries you just really want. Stick to the first column if your budget is tight, but if you have a little more to play with then move up to two with a cheeky smattering of items from column number three.
Timing is key. Prices go down by another 20-30 per cent at the end of sales, but there’s more choice at the start so you’re more likely to snare something you’ve liked for ages.
Think before you buy
Is the item perfect? If it is, that’s great. If not, consider ditching it. Because, says Sandler, “it’s not a bargain if you never cut the label off”. Sales items aren’t always refundable, so decide carefully.
Keep the “need vs want” rule firmly in mind when shopping; if it’s not something you need, think carefully before you buy it or you’ll end up overspending.
And make sure you check what you’re buying isn’t faulty – sometimes this is why it’s cheap. It’s also worth double-checking the size, as stock gets messy and clothes can end up on the wrong hangers.
Helen Gunter, spokesperson for TK Maxx, has four questions she asks herself when she’s hunting through the sales:
• Does the price represent real value?
• How much will I wear it and will that
be worth it in terms of cost per wear?
• Will it lose its shape/colour in the wash?
• Is it made with quality fabrics?
And think outside the box
If you’ve got an artistic streak, try a bit of customising. Hannah Buckley, founder of misshighstreet.com says: “Don’t be scared of customising clothes you spot in the sales. Not a Gok Wan-style makeover, just subtle DIY tweaks. Buttons on a cardigan can make a huge difference – grab a bargain blazer with brash buttons, replace with vintage versions and hey presto!”
Even if you can’t be trusted with a needle and thread, bigger sizes can be tailored professionally for about £10, which still may work out as a bargain.
Where to shop
Most shops will open bright and early on Boxing Day, so get up early. Here are our top five places to hunt for bargains in London:
1. It’s Christmas. It’s cold. It’s OK to want everything under one roof. Head to Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush (it won’t be as packed as its younger buddy in Stratford) for discounts on high street favourites like H&M, Dune and All Saints, Next and Topshop.
2. For men’s and women’s shoes, hit Office, which will be treating shoppers to a generous 60 per cent off.
3. St Christopher’s Place in the West End is filled with boutiques that are, for the rest of the year, a bit pricey. Now high-end high street steals from Marimekko, Kookai, The Kooples, Reiss and Whistles are within reach.
4. Probably the only time you can justify heading into the iconic but pricey department store – Regent Street’s Liberty will have up to 60 per cent off its luxury fashion and home swag.
5. Make sure you get to House of Fraser for a tidy 50 per cent off womenswear and 40 per cent off menswear. Stores are all over London but Oxford Street has the biggest.