Sunday, June 21, 2009

Shopping the Sales in the Recession

The onset of the summer sales, may be the first chance many of you have had to treat yourself and your wardrobe to an injection of this seasons essentials. Many Personal Finance Bloggers have stopped buying clothes completely since the Recession took hold, but now they, along with you, may be in desperate need of a shopping spree either because they have a holiday coming up, a wedding to attend, or are just so fed up with not buying, may want to inject a few wardrobe staples into their closet, so here is the Recessionista (UK) guide to what to buy in the sales.

1. A dress - go for a classic style, that is not too cocktail but would work for a wedding with heels, or holiday evenings. Strapless with a tulip style skirt are all the rage for youngsters at the moment but depending on age, may not be suitable. Avoid Black, keep that for winter, although a black background with a bold floral print looks good for all seasons.

2. Basic t-shirts - Neutral colours are best, white, black, navy, taupe, khaki and beige go with everything and can be layered in winter. Go for short sleeves and vests.

3. A tulip shape skirt - either floral to wear with plain vests (pick out the colours and get a couple of vest tops to create a different look) or cami or a block colour with a tie belt or bow on the front.

4. Bottoms - look for classic styles that will last years. The sales are a good time for buying Premium Denim, go for dark skinny or straight leg styles for evening, boyfriend cuts for daytime and white for summer if you dare. Linen trousers and cropped styles are a summer essential, so if you don't already have any, then now is the time. City shorts are a smart option for either the workplace or evenings out with a pretty blouse.

5. A pretty blouse or coloured tunic - An item like this will work for evenings out or can be dressed down with casual bottoms and flip flops.

6. Cardigan - often needed on cloudy days and for chilly holiday evenings. If you can only afford one, go for black as it will do for the winter season aswell. If not, go for a brightly coloured one, pick out a colour from the lovely blouse or tunic you bought at No.5 above! Not only will it go with the lovely top you bought it will sit nicely over those black and white vests you bought at No.2! If you can afford Cashmere in the sale, then get it! If not try M&S and Gap.

7. Sandals - Flats for day, Gladiator or similar styles work well, go for black, white or any metallic colour as these go with everything. Styles with Stones/Diamante on, make a great alternative for evening wear when you don't want to wear heels.

8. Heels - Again go for the same colours as mentioned for Sandals, as this eliminates the need for lots of pairs.

9. Clutch Bag - A clutch is essential for evenings out, weddings etc. Match to your chosen shoe colours

10. Flip Flops - Havianas usually go onsale at Office either online or instore or grab a pair of classic Birkenstocks. Again consider colour so that you only have to take one pair on holiday.

11. Tote Bag - A large bag for everyday can double up as a travel/beach bag for holidays again to eliminate the need for more than one go neutral, black, tan or beige. Canvas styles will of course, be cheaper. Zara do great tote bags.

12. Hat - Not essential if you are not going on holiday (although still worn by the stylish), essential if you are. Straw trilbys are big news this season. Jigsaw do a great one, Accessorize is cheaper.

13. Swimwear - Whether you want Pucci poolside or Primark, don't waste money buying loads, I never travel with more than 3. A good black one, from a High End brand will last you more than one holiday. White looks fab on a great figure with a tan but can go off-white really quickly if you are constantly in the pool.

14. Sunglasses - can't afford high end? M:UK available at House of Fraser are reasonably priced (even better in the sales) or try Karen Millen or Jigsaw. Go for either big and black (aka Jackie O) or aviator styles as both are timeless classics. If going for aviators, if you wear white gold jewellery and have silver sandals, go for silver coloured arms/rims to give a real polished look to any outfit (apply the same rules for yellow gold).

15. Watch - If you need a new one, the sales is the time to grab a great timepiece. Match bracelet watches to the colour of your other jewellery.

Golden Rules for sale shopping.

1. Do check sale start dates at your favourite stores.
2. Make a list of what you feel is missing from your wardrobe, what needs replacing or what you actually need for your holiday etc
3. Visit stores in advance of sale starting to check out stock and to see who has the pieces you need.
4. Bear in mind some shops will bring out past seasons stock to clear if they still have any. This is fine if there is a classic piece you need but never be afraid to ask for a further reduction if you know a garment was from the stores s/s 08 season.
5. Remember that most stores will have a better sale range instore than online. I have recently been in to 2 Whistles shops who have had some lovely pieces in the Sale, but when I checked online, nothing I have seen was on the website. So to get the best stuff you may have to leave the armchair. This will save you having to pay delivery charges, traipsing to the post office for returns that don't fit and waiting ages for the refund to your card. I only recently got a refund for an item I returned to House of Fraser 6 weeks before!
6. If you shop at local, small, Independent Boutiques, ask about Sale preview evenings. At shops like these you may be able to put stock on hold at close of business the day before the sale starts to ensure you get the pieces you want.
7. Maxi Dresses can be shortened when the style is no longer fashionable - so their is no need to avoid if you see a great dress in the sale but don't like long billowing dresses.

Never forget that the Sales are a great time for buying gifts and presents in advance to save money in the long term. Is it your Mums birthday next month, would she love that great jumper currently at 1/2 price? Would those Champagne Flutes currently on sale in the Department store do for your cousins wedding present in September? Think ahead and outside of the box to utilise the Sales to your full advantage - they are not just about Fashion (believe it or not!).

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