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  • Alison Catchpole


Sailing through the sales takes some doing.

The new season, while only just starting in ‘scattered showers’ and ‘sunny intervals’ as usual, is already ‘last season’. The wellspring of items reduced to make way for new stock is already almost over.

This is the irony of the Fashion Week showings too, always apparently out of synch with the weather and your brain. Designers work so many seasons and years ahead, with the Spring-Summer 2016 menswear shows already done and dusted before the middle of 2015 has even hit.

In terms of sale offerings it’s the savvy shopper who hangs onto their dreams, dignity and cash by holding out for the final reductions and the best of the dregs. The advantage of staggered starts is that if you miss one bargain you’ll be able to swoon over another just around the corner. The former ‘July sales’ spread from June to August and beyond.

Clutch bags zooming away from the Matches sale

Many stores continue to discount throughout the sales period. Wearing correct battle gear is key: separates not a dress, flat, easily removed shoes and a hands free bag. Personal rules might include planning your target buys, planning how much to spend and being clear about returns policies.

Joseph sale: window of opportunity

These days of course, sales shopping is no longer confined to the end of the season.

For those disinclined to shop in department stores, and with time on their hands, and on the right lists, sample sales rock. They really can be a source of inspiration and reasonably priced clothing and accessories.

The summer Charlotte Olympia sample sale has been at Mayfair’s Connaught Hotel for several seasons; popularity is growing as the brand expands

And there is now that previously unimaginable service: the permanent, 24 hour sales store. Yoox, soon to merge with the giant Net-a-Porter and The Outnet online stores, is amongst a number of key players. The TK Maxxes of the online world take fashion and competitive pricing very seriously. Their clientele are mid to high earners and often consider buying at full price but are quite happy not to. The online offering contrasts with the ‘flash sale’ model of, for example, Gilt Groupe, Brandalley and Cocosa.

The trick? To buy the items you’ve wanted and not been able to afford, and then wear them in the knowledge that they are a real steal. Job done.

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