How to... shop the sales

Who can resist the lure of the Christmas sales? With everything you never needed at eye-wateringly low prices, it can be difficult not to splurge on unnecessary items.

Here, style consultant AMANDA BERNSTEIN shows you how to avoid breaking the bank on those ‘bargains’, and, most important of all, how to have fun while you’re doing it...


Items that are ‘the season’s hottest colours’ are almost certain to be reduced - but it’s worth taking a minute to consider if you will want to wear a purple sequinned jacket next year, when everyone else has moved on to another colour and style.

Trailing the sales can be very rewarding but it's best to know your agenda first

Shop smart: Trailing the sales has many rewards but make sure you set your agenda first

You probably won’t. Shops know that items in classic colours can be sold alongside the new season’s merchandise, especially staple colours such as black, brown or grey, so these colours are much less likely to be found in the reduced pile.

But if you do find something you like in a timeless colour, bag it. It’s a sure-fire winner. 


Before setting off for the sales, make a shopping list of everything you wish to purchase, and set yourself a budget.

There is no point in buying something that has been heavily reduced if you don’t really need it. Don’t be swayed by any amount of saving.

If you will never use it or wear it, what’s the point? Try to ensure you purchase only items that are on your shopping list as you know they will genuinely be put to good use.


The true hell of the Christmas sales is the changing rooms. Avoid them by wearing a thin outfit under your coat to enable you to slip things over it in a quiet area of the shop.

Doing this has the added benefit of allowing you to use the large mirrors and aisles around the shop floor, meaning you have lots more room to try things on.


Go out on a day when you are feeling positive and energised. Any purchases made to ‘cheer you up’ will undoubtedly be a mistake. Shopping is tiring, but if you’re fighting the crowds at the sales while not feeling your best, it’s twice as hard. So here are some tips for the day:

  • Wear comfortable, easy-to-remove footwear.
  • Be sure to apply some makeup (to ensure you look your best).
  • Wear a good bra and decent underwear. You want to look respectable if you are stripping off.
  • Keep a watchful eye on your handbag - thieves love crowds.


If you have decided not to go it alone, visit the sales with someone who will tell you the truth about the clothes you will consider buying. Don’t take your mother - she’ll think that you look nice in everything.

Sales shopping with a partner is also a tricky exercise: many men are simply more interested in making a quick exit, rather than helping you pick out a winning outfit.


The Christmas sales are always a good time to pick up a special occasion outfit because they’re full of glitzy partywear, so check your diary before you leave for any functions, meetings or holidays you have coming up in the next 12 months.

The sales are also useful for finding any special gifts - perhaps a family member is celebrating a milestone birthday this year, or there’s a big wedding to attend. Obviously, there’s no point buying a Christmas-scented candle to give as a spring gift. But there will be lots of fabulous things out there, and planning ahead will also save you time in future.


If you have a favourite boutique or store, ask them to add your name to their mailing list.

You will receive regular notification of their sales and preview days, as well as any special offers for their loyal clientele - local boutiques are especially helpful with this.

Department stores usually start reducing their merchandise the evening before, so if you time any trips well, you could pick up a bargain early.


Before you make a purchase, be sure you know the store’s refund and exchange policy during the sale period. This will differ for each company, so to avoid misunderstanding, always ask or read the signs that are usually located at each till point.


Most importantly, have fun at the sales - it can be a great day out, especially when you know how! And remember those words of wisdom from Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City: ‘I like my money right where I can see it - hanging in my closet!

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