10 Golden Rules for shopping Sample Sales

Those of you who know me, know I do rather like a designer label, but you’ll also know I’ll bloody love a bargain too! So I’m pleased to share that Sample Sale season is upon us! 

Now while Sample Sales are happening all year round, late April-June tends to be where they are at their peak (along with October and November) as designers clear out their back stocks en masse. Each year I notice the usual suspects, and yet always somehow seem to miss most of them. 
This year however, I live in London instead of Brighton, so there’s no “Is it worth the whole train journey up?” dilemma. It’s the perfect time to treat yourself to something you wouldn’t normally be able to afford/justify as most have prices slashed to up to 75-95% meaning making it (practically) guilt free shopping! 

I always try to shop for my out of town friends who can’t make it too. I recently purchased a Mulberry bag for one of my girlfriend’s, priced at £350 instead of £1050 and am currently on the look out for Sophia Webster wedding shoes for another. 

Shopping sample sales is an art form, done well you can upgrade your wardrobe for a fraction of the price, done badly you can end up empty handed crying on the floor! Lol 

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the sales YOU WONT WANT TO MISS but for now here’s my top tips for shopping the sample sales if you are a newbie. 

1. Arrive Early. 

I know it seems pretty basic and if you can’t get there early then it’s always worth popping along as stocks get replenished in most cases hourly/daily but the early bird catches the worm and all that! Also, make sure to leave enough time and expect queues! At the till, at the door, at the fitting room…. It’s just part of the process.

2. Dress for the occasion.

Most sample sales have fitting rooms but expect this to be a cornered off area at best and at least a dozen others changing next to you with maybe 1 or 2 mirrors max. I always wear clothes that are easy to take on/off and a cami top/full knickers are best if you are shy as there’s no privacy. Shoes that easily slide on/off are a must too. Also, in most cases you will be expected to leave your bag and coat in the cloakroom so if you have something with pockets you can store bank card in that’s a bonus to keep hands free. 

3. Know your size. 

These days it’s hard to know your size as they vary so much. However, it will pay dividends to know your size with the BRAND of which you are shopping at before arriving as this will help you in selecting your garments quickly and accurately. Top tip: Luxury designers tend to be smaller then high street. 

4. Stay calm.

It always amazes me how sample sales can turn even the most sophisticated women into a bunch of aggressive arseholes all over a discounted handbag. I watch them throwing clothes to the floor while scrambling to get another and wonder if they realise that the dress they just threw down once hung on Harrods Rail like a work of art selling for excess of £2k?!

Ladies, this isn’t Primark! And, when it comes to your fellow sisterhood, quit the daggers and sharped elbow treatment and treat them as you would want to be treated yourself, It’s only fashion after all! Which leads me to….

5 . Treat the staff well.

The likelihood is that they are bloody exhausted and fed up with picking shit up off the floors. Help them by putting your stuff back. Trust me they will notice it. And when you can’t find that dress that bitch blonde with the perfect cashmere just waltzed off to the till with, they will be far more likely to help you find it or dig into the reserves for you. 

6. The best things come to those who wait:

Like the sales on the high street the best bargains come at the end. After all no one wants to pack it back up again. So if you have nerves of steel, hold off till the last day/hour for the very best prices.

WARNING: remember this will be a bunch of odds and sods by this point so don’t put back that catwalk dress at 75% off you always dreamed of having hoping it will be there tomorrow at 90% off tomorrow. Which leads me to…..

7. Get it or regret it. 

Pick up EVERYTHING you like, this is not the time for procrastinating. Take a good handful with you to the fitting room, even better take a pal and that way you can work as a team. If you don’t want something make a decision and move on as I guarantee someone will be waiting in the wings for it. I often get asked “Are you taking that?” by an anxious onlooker and if it’s not for me then there’s something very feel good about handing it over to someone else who will looks better and love it more then I ever could. Think of it as good shopping Karma. 

8. Check once, check twice. 

Things move fast at sample sales so expect to head back to the fitting room at least twice as discarded garments find their way back to the rails. My most recent sample sale buys included a dress I found on my third loop around on my way out. Later that night I spotted said dress on Net-a-porter for £370 and I’d paid £55.

9. Cash is King. 

I find this helpful for two reasons. Firstly it helps me stick to a budget. Like auctions there is a tendency once in to buy everything, as you see the discount rather then the garment and how it looks/feels on you. Your bank manager will thank you, as will ‘tomorrow you’.

Secondly, it could help you gain an extra bargain at the till. I’m not guaranteeing it (and some simply won’t) but if you are going to try to haggle cash will be your secret weapon! 

Some sample sales don’t accept cash so again always check the website first.

10. Remember all sales are final. 

So make sure you really love those items before you leave and give them a good check over to make sure there are no marks/stains BEFORE you leave. Once bought there’s no going back, so only but what you truly love! 

Coming up tomorrow are the Sample sales you WONT WANT TO MISS!

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