How to get the best clothing bargains 

I first wrote about Bargain Bev back in 2014, she’s still around. With many of us needing to tighten our belts due to the rising cost of living combined with the sale season upon us I figured it would be worth me introducing you to her. It’s so tempting to buy stuff because it’s at a knockdown bargain price but I’m sharing tips for getting the best clothing bargains and not wasting cash in the summer sales.  Read this first before getting out your purse or clicking on that PayPal button. 
Let me introduce you to Bargain Bev – she’s a bugger for a ‘good deal’. She loves to shop in the sales and TK Maxx is one of her favourite shops. She has wardrobes stuffed full of clothes many of which still have the tags on, dresses, tops, trousers, jeans, t-shirts, jackets, coats – you name it. She’s got all kinds of boots and shoes too and more handbags than you can shake a stick at. She absolutely CANNOT resist a bargain 

Wardrobe full of clothes but nothing to wear 

Bev is totally lured in by the ‘WAS’ tags. She can’t leave it there for the price and because it’s in the sale or TK Maxx she feels that it’s a bargain. She is blinded by the ‘WAS’ numbers on the price tag i.e., was £113 now £27.  Her shopping focus is always on how much she’s saved not how much she’s spent on stuff she didn’t need. She often impulse buys as she can’t resist a bargain and it’s compounded by the ‘it might not be here next time’ mentally. 
She absolutely LUUURVES a bargain. This means that she buy things that don’t even fit – unless she loses half a stone or has the leg length shortened.  (But she never gets around to doing either of these things.) So actually, the bargain price isn’t so much of a bargain anymore. Bev has got a pair of trousers (that were originally £113) that she only paid £27 for but they are just gathering dust in the wardrobe and will probably end up at the charity shop down the line. 
The trouble is with Bargain Bev she never has a plan when she goes shopping. She doesn’t think about the stuff she already has and what she might need to fill a gap. (She probably doesn’t even remember half the stuff she has.) This is why she still ‘has nothing to wear’ despite the massive amount of stuff in her wardrobe(s).  For example, it might be that by adding a versatile denim jacket to her collection she’d all of a sudden be able to wear it with lots of other items e.g., Dialling down that floaty dress she bought for a wedding by adding the jacket and a pair of white trainers or wearing for a pub lunch with a colourful t shirt and linen trousers. 
In fact, Bev has all kinds of styles and shapes of dresses, skirts, trousers, jackets etc in all sorts of fabrics and colours. She has never really tuned into  her style personality; whether or not things will actually suit her or even fit in with her lifestyle because she’s so blinkered by getting a bargain. She loves the thrill at the till of getting something at a reduced price regardless of the suitability. 

Saving time and money when shopping for clothes 

Bev has so much cash tied up in unworn items in her wardrobe. She could probably pay for a lovely holiday with all the money she has ‘saved’ if you totted up all the price tags on the unworn stuff. 
Many of my clients comment on how much money and time they save when they go shopping once they’ve had their colours ‘done’. This is even more so if they’ve worked through my Project FAB! 4 step framework and know their personal style and which shapes of clothing suit their particular body shape. When you have these things sussed you can literally scan the rails in a shop (even in the sales) and pick out colours from your palette. You no longer consider the items not in your palette to be a bargain because you know that you’ll probably never wear them. You don’t buy things that don’t flatter your body shape despite the knock down price because you know it won’t do anything for you. 

Tips for shopping in the sales 

With the summer sales already upon us as shops are clearing their shelves in readiness for the autumn stock I thought I might share a few of my tips for shopping the sales: 
I’d ask you to think about ‘shopping’ your wardrobe – quite often if you had a bit of a sort out and a try on you might find things you’d forgotten you had or you can experiment with wearing things in different ways and figure out how to save money on clothes and shoes etc. 
Do you really need more NEW stuff? Could you be greener in your approach? Check out the charity shops, try swishing with friends, or buying or selling stuff on Vinted/Ebay BEFORE you hit the sales. 
Dress for trying on when shopping– wear things that are easy to get on and off, including your shoes. You don’t want to be getting hot and bothered wrestling with complicated fastenings etc. Maybe a stretchy top and leggings or jeans and slip-on ballet flats or sandals. Avoid wearing a dress for shopping in as you’ll be making it harder to visualise what separates might look like as you try them on. Wear good undies too. 
Try things on BEFORE you part with your cash if at all possible. Trickier with online purchases I know but there is sometimes a buy now, pay later option. It’s false economy buying things to slim into or to have altered – unless you 100% know you will do it. 
Check the returns policy – both in store and online. I know people who’ve ended up keeping things they don’t even want because of the cost and hassle involved in making a return. I was shocked to discover that some brands actually send returns to landfill – avoid those if you want to buy great clothes that don’t cost the earth. 
When you’re tempted by the reduced price Ask yourself ‘would I be loving this quite so much if it was full price?’ If the answer is no then you might want to just put it back on the rail. It’s only a bargain if you’d have bought it anyway. 
It’s probably in the sale for a reason – are you really going to wear that ‘fun’ print in those garish colours? Sometimes shops get the dregs that have been stored for ages out of the warehouse at sale time. 
Ask yourself does it go with at least 3 other things in your wardrobe? You can end up with lots of ‘hero’ items in your wardrobe and no ‘supporting cast’ when the answer is no. This is when you end up feeling like you’ve got loads of clothes but nothing to wear. 
Consider the cost per wear. If you spend £100 on a pair of shoes that you know you’ll wear three times a week for work all year round, they work out at 69.4p per wear. Whereas spending £40 on a pair of party shoes to go with a particular dress, that you might wear just 3 times works out much more expensive at £13.33 per wear. 
Check the size labels as it might be on the wrong hanger. Also check hems, seams, collars for make-up etc. Quite often sale items have been tried on many times and possibly spent some time on floor being trod on. 
If you see something you really love early in the season but don’t want to pay full price for you could take a gamble in it being reduced later when it comes to sale time. Although, a word of caution, it’s rare that a brand would ever reduce a bestselling item in a popular colour – sometimes you just have to suck it up. 
Some brands have mid-season sales or ‘flash sales’ that are very short notice and usually 20% off for 48 hours or similar. If you have favourite brands it’s worth signing up for their mailing lists and following them on social media to keep informed. 
Mutton dressed as lamb 
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful to help you shop for bargains. If you know a Bargain Bev who has a wardrobe full of clothes but still feels like she has nothing to wear, tell her it might be worth her using some of the money she would spend on more clothes to work with me – just saying lol. 
Tagged as: Colour, How to..., Style
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