OK friends, I'm just going to put it out there; I don't enjoy shopping during the sales. I really don't. Not only is it blowing a gale outside and you know your umbrella’s going to blow inside out the minute you step outside the door, but the rails of sale clothes left in the shops right now are a mish-mash of autumn/ winter stock that's left over from pre-Christmas sales. Now this might be OK if you’re a good forward planner, but how many of us are really thinking of buying a coat for next winter, or a Christmas party dress for something we may or may not go to in 11 months time? Certainly not me.
Yes, I hear the bargain hunters amongst you – there are great deals to be had. Most shops are down to the 50 – 70% off stage by now. If you’re good at rummaging you can find a great deal, but then often we find something we actually like, only to discover that they don't have it in our size. So what happens? We compromise (because it's a bargain of course), we buy the size bigger or the size smaller, or go for the colour we're not actually that keen on, or take the shoes that pinch just a bit, because it's an absolute bargain.
And this is the biggest problem with shopping in the sales. It's a bargain.
If we buy anything new for our wardrobes where price is the deciding factor, then that item is not necessarily something we truly love, or something that is a perfect fit/ style/ colour on us. What that means is that we often end up not wearing it. I have seen inside so many wardrobes where things are hanging there for 1, 2, or even 3 years with the sale tag still attached. And if we never wear it, was it such a bargain after all?
There's one time when shopping in the sales is a good idea, and that's when you've had your eye on something for a while, that you've tried on, you know what size you're looking for, and you know it's something you love that will go with other things in your wardrobe. Only then is it sometimes an added bonus to get it in the sale - but ask yourself, would you have been prepared to buy it when it was full price? If the answer is yes, then enjoy the extra discount in January (if there's still one left in your size).
Another reason I'm not a fan of shopping in January is because we're not quite into the new season just yet. It's that lull time in between. Some shops do have Spring season stock starting to trickle in to the stores (is that a new tongue-twister?), but the weather just hasn’t quite caught up with us yet. Buying that lovely new sheer coral blouse just doesn’t quite go with the torrential downpour going on outside. It can make for a confusing and frustrating trip.
So, if like me you’ve got an itch for some new looks, but can’t find a good scratching post in the shops right now, here are a few things you can do at this time of year without hitting the sales:
1. See what you’ve already got at home. It’s quite surprising to see what you can make from your existing wardrobe. Imagine all your clothes as your own boutique and have a fun trying on session. Pull out that bag from under the bed that you’ve forgotten all about and try on combinations of clothes that you’ve not put together before. Can you layer up winter and spring clothes to reflect the seasonal change over? Try a dress with a different jacket, or find the perfect top to go with those jeans. Take pictures of your new outfit combinations and keep them on your phone, or print them off and stick them to the inside of your wardrobe doors – voila! You have your very own look book for days when you can’t decide what to wear.
2. Make a pile of clothes that need dry cleaning, repair or alteration. We’ve all got them and they’re never going to get worn until they’re fixed. Commit to sorting them out so they can be wearable items again. Repairs and alterations? Find a good local person through Yell to help you if it’s beyond your own skills or time available. I’ve just had a jacket altered – I didn’t wear it before at all, and will wear it loads now – it’s just like getting something new! If you're very creative with a sewing machine, perhaps you can repurpose things you're not currently wearing to make something new and unique? There are lots of ideas on Pinterest to get you started.
3. Have a clear out. While you’re looking at all your clothes, are there things you just haven’t worn? Try them on – do they make you feel good, or do you think you’ll never get round to wearing them? Can you sell them on to a new home via eBay or a local dress agency? You could even organize a swapping evening with your friends. Or perhaps just bag it all up and take it to the charity shop – you’ll be making some space ready for the new season in a few weeks time.
4. Think about your style. When was the last time you thought about the messages you want to get across about yourself through your clothes? Like it or not, your style says something about who you are – understanding what your clothes are visually projecting about your personality is key to developing your own style and your confidence – I call it dressing deliberately. Spend a happy afternoon cutting out pictures of styles you like from magazines to help identify your style. If you need help, find a local image consultant or personal stylist to run a styling session with you.
5. If you just can’t resist the shopping bug, try your hand at vintage or second hand shopping. There’s less of a fashion colour influence in shopping this way, so even the brightest of Springs or lightest of Summers can find something they’ll love in their colour palette. Second hand shopping brings individuality to your wardrobe, and is a cost effective way to update your collection – not to mention being extremely environmentally friendly and a lot of fun! I guarantee you’ll be hooked! Never done it before? Try my little book In the Jumble - it's packed with tips and ideas to get you started. Want to get started? Get in touch; we run organized trips to our favourite second hand shopping places in and around Newbury. You might even love it so much you decide to do all your shopping this way!
6. If you’re happy that your wardrobe has some great capsule pieces in it, why not go for an accessory update? It’s amazing what a new necklace or scarf does to lift a dress or a suit, and it means you can find something colourful and creative to add to your collection. Local craft courses may even offer courses in jewellery making – perhaps you can make your own?
In a few weeks time, you can breathe a sigh of relief and pleasure as the weather warms up and the shops swing fully into the new season (yes, even the charity shops do too, so you don't have to give up your new hobby). By then, you’ll be ready – you’ll have updated your style preferences, you’ll have realized how great your wardrobe is already, and you’ll have made a bit of room for a few carefully chosen new additions - either from the High Street or your new favourite charity or vintage shop. For now, you can have great fun with what you already have in your wardrobe without needing to brave the weather! Enjoy!