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My guide to surviving the summer sales

This morning I dragged my broke ass down to Topshop for that twice-yearly ritual of rifling through the rails of size-20 hotpants and last year’s mustard cardies, elbowing other shoppers out of the way and collapsing under the weight of my pile of garments en route to the fitting room.

Sales can be pretty painful. The hours of wading through the crap no one wants, only to find that, once you do discover something amazing, they either don’t have your size or someone else is snatching it off the rails as you gaze on, helpless. But when you do find that perfect item – that knockout dress or those sky-high heels – the thrill as you spot it’s in your size and you whisk it away to the changing room is quite possibly non-rivalled in the shopping world. Yep, sales shopping is high octane stuff – fashion’s equivalent of the Thorpe Park log fume, perhaps.

But although the thrills and spills can be pretty emotional, is it actually any good for your wardrobe? Some would argue no. It’s all last season’s stuff which you’ll probably wear a maximum of two times before realising you hate it. The low prices just suck you in, giving you a hefty dose of ‘sales fever’ (symptom: stack of clothes on your bedroom floor with the labels still on, which are heading for the charity shop.)

I however, disagree. I am a total disciple of the high street sale. A hefty percentage of my wardrobe is purchased there in the weeks after Christmas and the end of June. I don’t think I’ve even brought anything full-price in Topshop for about three years.

And my sales rules are these – don’t try and follow trends when sales shopping, don’t rush your decisions and go for things you truly love rather thant what’s hot right now.

You need to set aside plenty of time – enough to comb through all the rails and really way up decisions before you buy, so this isn’t a task for lunch break. This is the only way to avoid a hefty dose of ‘sales fever; and a pile of unwanted clothes. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take as much time as you would picking out a pricey designer dress – it’s still your hard-earned cash you’re spending.

Taking your time is essential to ensure that you actually really like the clothes and are not suffering from ‘sales fever’. Make sure you try them on, don’t just sprint to the tills high on those low prices – as I’m sorry to admit I have done in the past!  And, as it’s end of season and the trend-led pieces are on their way out, you should avoid them at all costs. However, I don’t see the harm of buying, for instance, a winter jumper in the summer sales. If it’s a gorgeous jumper you really love and will get plenty of wear out of once winter hits, then what’s the problem?

And if you really can’t find anything you love in the sales, then walk away. Don’t feel you have to buy somehting for the sake of it just because it’s bargain time. There’ll be more clothes on the rails in coming months you’re sure to fall in love with – save your cash for them instead.

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I am a journalist living in Bristol, UK. My work has been published in The Independent, The Guardian, Dazed and Confused, Mixmag and DJ Mag, amonst others. Drop me a line at

1 Comment so far

  1. Caitlin

    I also always find that the Hennes and Topshop sale contain things that are recycled a season or two later, for example I got my first pair of high waisted trousers in a sale about a year and a half ago- now they’re everywhere and I got a silk dress for £20 in the topshop sale only for it to come back next season in the boutique section for £45! I felt very pleased with myself.

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