Top Tips for Successful Sales Shopping


We all love a bargain, don’t we? At this time of year the shops (actual and online) are awash with discounted stock and it can be very tempting to splash out.

However, years of running Capsule Wardrobe Workshops and doing Wardrobe Weeds have taught me  that most women’s clothing mistakes were so-called sale bargains. So, before you rush off and buy something which you might regret, take on board a few of my tips.

Take stock of what you already have

Before you hit the shops, go through your wardrobes and identify what you already have and what you need.  Try to establish what it is that makes you wear certain pieces more than others. Do you go for “cosy” or smart clothes, are you happiest in prints or plains, soft or bold colours? Do you prefer dresses to separates? Jeans to trousers?

By understanding what works best for you and why, you’ll have more chance of buying new pieces you’ll actually wear and that won’t end up languishing unworn at the back of your wardrobe.

To buy or not to buy?

That is indeed the question! My advice is to buy something only if:

  • You have tried it on. It amazes me how many people simply don’t bother!
  • You love it. It makes you smile at your reflection when you put it on.
  • It fits or can be tailored to fit.  If it’s too small, do not kid yourself you’ll slim into it – the chances are you won’t!  If it’s too big/long, consider whether the cost of alteration still makes the purchase worthwhile.
  • It works with your current wardrobe. Can you think of three other items you already have that you could wear it with?
  • You can picture yourself wearing it. What sort of occasions these will be? Party? Work? Walking the dog?
  • You don’t already have something similar in your wardrobe that you prefer.
  • You would buy it at the sale price even if it wasn’t in the sale –  in other words, you are not being seduced into buying primarily because you think it’s a bargain (Yes, hands up, I’ve been known to do that too but it’s always a mistake!)
  • It represents good value on a cost per wear basis.  Cost per wear = price/number of times worn. In other words an expensive item worn frequently works out better value on a cost per wear basis than an inexpensive one you seldom wear.

If it meets the above criteria, buy it!


  • Don’t put it away in your wardrobe until you have worked out how you will wear it – with which shoes, accessories, tops, bottoms etc. If you can’t make a full outfit from it, start looking for the other pieces you need to go with it. If you don’t get something to complete your outfit within 3 weeks, return it.
  • Wear it right away! If it’s an “everyday” item and you haven’t worn it within two weeks, take it back because you’re obviously not that keen on it or it doesn’t suit your lifestyle or style personality.
  • If it’s an online purchase, ask yourself,  if I had tried this on in the changing room would I have bothered taking it to the cash desk? If the answer is no, send it back!
  • If you bought it with a view to getting it altered and have not done so within two weeks, return it. You do not need or want it enough.

NB: Double check the returns period on purchases. Most shops allow 28 days but for sale items it may be less, in which case you are going to need to make quicker decisions about whether or not to keep what you’ve bought. Can’t decide? Take it back!

The bottom line is that you should not buy anything that doesn’t make you look and feel fabulous, however inexpensive. After all, a bargain is not a bargain if you don’t wear it. And, guess what, these days there’s bound to be another sale just around the corner!

If you’d like to find out more about putting together a wardrobe that works for you, why not  book an Image Makeover or attend my next Capsule Wardrobe Workshop.