How to shop the sales

Everyone loves a sale. There’s that feeling that kicks in. The I’m getting a bargain one. The hunter gatherer one. The get out of my waaaay lady I saw them first one. Phew. Short version we love a sale.

The dilemma: how to shop the sales in a way that benefits our wardrobe when all those feelings and adrenaline? You make a plan. A plan will ensure you are ready, willing and able when the time comes armed with the essentials to make sure you grab a bargain.

This is my guide to shopping the sales, how to get the biggest bang for your buck and stretching that clothes budget further.

how to shop the sales like an expert

Sign up for the newsletters. In a complete reverse productivity move I suggest you sign up for ALL your favourite its brands. Often brands use this method to drive traffic to their sales long before it is posted on their social media sites. Ever wondered why all the good stock is gone? This could be why.

Shop the sales for trend pieces. We all know to shop out of season for our key wardrobe items but have you consider doing it for trend pieces? Often end of season sales of overseas companies are rife with trend pieces that the brand knows are going to be no good to them come the following year. The good news is because you are shopping the US or UK seasons our time here in Australia is yet to come. Snag a bargain and feel okay when you have moved passed the cropped top come 2014. Ha.

Know your measurements. Then USE them to check them against the size chart of the item you are buying. More and more online stores are stocking a number of brands in the one place. That means variations in sizing can be huge! Know your current measurement, keep them nearby and always check the size chart. Returns are often not allowed during final sales so what a waste it would be to choose the wrong one.

Like the scouts say, be prepared! Prepare a list at the start of each season of items that you want to add to your wardrobe for the current and upcoming season. 

This list will become a bit like one of those tricky missile targeting systems. When you’re at a sale it’s easy to become distracted by all the things. This list will keep you on track and make sure you aren’t adding items that you don’t need. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it.

Make friends with those in the know. When it comes to sales it an absolutely be a case of first in best dressed. Make friends with the ladies in your local store, communicate on a brands Facebook page or be in touch however you can be. This will ensure if there is a sale they KNOW you’ll be interested and they’ll be in touch.

Consider a clothing fund/savings account. It may sound extravagant but if you are refraining from using credit in order to secure your bargain buys (and I’m very much for for doing that) then having a bit of money up your sleeve come sales time can be a great help. 

If an account seems a little too tempting try a money jar or a $5 note challenge (where you add all your fivers to a container, never using them). You’ll be surprised how quickly things can add up.

Now that should have you all set come sales season.

This whole post got me thinking about a adventure I had at the Boxing Day sales one year. We’d been to the beach in the morning and missed the first of the madness. We arrived at Myer and there were items of clothes and frazzled shop assistants strewn everywhere.

I went to the plus section, which is a little lack lustre sometimes to say the least, not holding out much hope for any bargains. I figured the shoes would be worth the trip. No biggie. Wandering about I spotted a sales rack. An 80% off, last-season, clearance-style rack. Now I don’t know what happened that day, if it had something to do with stars aligning or whatever BUT I scored big time.

I picked up three great dresses (including a formal one I wore to my brother’s wedding), a work suit and a few casual tops for less than $200, all in my size, all fitting perfectly. It was like there was a golden light of awesomeness shining over my head that day. A never-to-be-repeated experience I’m sure.

Ahhhh bliss.

Where were we? Oh right.

The key points for scoring a great deal at a sale are:

  • Know what you need to buy and what you don’t.
  • Get to know the people in the know.
  • An item isn’t a bargain if you never wear it.
  • Know your measurements for shopping online.
  • Be prepared!

Tell me about your top secret, fool proof method for scoring a genuine bargain in the sales. What’s the best bargain you have ever scored?

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Budget Fashionista Workbook-transparent

Nikki has graciously allowed me to take a moment to let you all know about the recent release of my eBook The Budget Fashionista Workbook. The workbook will empower you to get into your wardrobe, sort it out and using considered choices start building a stylish wardrobe on a budget. For $9.99. No steak knives.

The simple fact is that most of us have purchased an item we’ve never worn, spent more than we should or wandered the shops with no idea. It’s expensive and time consuming to be so haphazard about it all. Using the checklists in the workbook you’ll be able to work out what you have and what’s missing to go after a personal style you love.

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melissa walker horn suger coat it profile image Melissa Walker Horn is the chief blogger at Suger Coat It, a blog about living the sweet life. Known as Suger, Melissa loves her family, too much butter on fresh bread and anything with stripes on it. She created the Confident You series and shares her love of fashion, the gym and cooking most days of the week on her blog. The Budget Fashionista Workbook is Melissa’s first eBook and will followed by Confident You in 2014. A social media addict and consultant, you will find Melissa anywhere you search for Suger with an e.    

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  • http://www.frockitall.com/ Steph Allen

    Great tips, the sales (Boxing day especially) can be brutal! I Love Myer’s shoe sales – 75% off the already marked down price! I got a gorgeous pair of $129 shoes for $17.50 once! Score!

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      That is SUCH a win. Woot. 75% off shoes is always a win.

  • 26 Years & Counting

    I can’t shop online – even with measurements I just find things don’t fit right. I swear most of my bargains have been flukes…I mean skill!!

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      I find that by sticking to brands that I own and have worn before I can be a little more assured of the sizing. Just watch places like The Iconic or ASOS that sell numerous brands in the one place.

      And yes! FLUKE. Haha. Errr, skill.

  • 26 Years & Counting

    I can’t shop online – even with measurements I just find things don’t fit right. I swear most of my bargains have been flukes…I mean skill!!

  • http://surelysarah.blogspot.com/ Surely Sarah

    Knowing your measurements is a new one to me – but now that I intend on shopping more online (especially for vintage/secondhand), it is so crucial! i actually hate sales because of the temptation to buy something because it’s cheap, not because I actually need it. So a mental list of what is missing fro my wardrobe is a good tool!

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Mental is great, physical list is even better. I keep it on a reminder list in my iPhone! Seriously. It’s kept me out of trouble so many times as I wander to the registers, arms full of clothes and realise I don’t need ANY of it.

      The measurements thing is ESSENTIAL. Happy shopping! ;)

  • Shelley

    I often buy from the USA – sales/outlet sections of brands I like over there. If in doubt buy a little bigger, you can always take it in, but usually you can’t let it out! Stretchy fabrics are good for overseas purchases too. My final tip is to do a search for coupons related to the brand you like – it will take even more off the price for you. I have bought some really lovely things very cheaply and put them away for the next season. You won’t meet yourself walking down the street either….

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Yes! I love that about shopping the overseas sales too. The not seeing your favourite piece on everyone else. It’s the best. GREAT tips! Thanks for sharing them. The stretch fabric, order up thing is great.

  • http://soniastyling.com/ Sonia

    These are seriously good tips, Melissa – thank you! I totally agree that you should always know your measurements when shopping online. I LOVE the idea of having a piggybank especially for clothes shopping. I am so going to do this!

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thanks Sonia! I can’t wait to see piccies on Instagram of that piggybank. Find something fabulous would you please. ;)

  • katypotaty

    Brill post, Suger!
    I am such a naughty sale shopper – I often justify with ‘but it was on sale’!
    Shall do better now xox

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thanks lovely! I’m sure you’re not too bad, you’re much too adorable to be TOO naughty. Haha. Items you don’t need are a waste of money, no matter how cheap they are. Just remember that.

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I am a budget shopper Expert I often see new season clothing that I have my eye on and when they have a 50% off sale I go in and grab it ,like the case of a Rockmans gorgeous watercolour maxi dress at $100 it was a bit too pricey I thought but at $50 it was fine so I bought it.I do sign up for all the sales newsletters and Ozsale and Brands Exclusive and Mynetsale are great too.I also recommend doing surveys for shops online that you always shop in.I did one this week and got a $20 voucher for doing it so I purchased a dress I had my eye on for under $10 and I got a $5 voucher for using it for next time.I think the best bargain I ever scored was at Trade Secret last summer where I got a pair of NYDJeans for $10 I could not believe the price or the fit! Great Post Melissa I do love a bargain.

    • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

      Thank you Lisa! I’m glad you enjoyed it, it sounds like you’re a pro. that survey one is SUCH a great idea. Nice one. And there are some great find stories here. I dub thee CHIEF Bargain Shopper. Haha.

      • Lisa Mckenzie

        Thankyou Melissa :)

        • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

          You’re welcome.