How to shop the sales properly: questions to ask yourself before getting carried away

sales shopping
How to reign yourself in during the salesJeremy Moeller - Getty Images

With the summer sales from some of our favourite online retailers – like Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion – kicking off this week, there are some perfect opportunities to pick up some great discounted designer goods.

In many ways, it makes sense to make certain purchases now, particularly if you've had your eye on something for a while. However, when it comes to your impact on the environment and your personal finances, it never makes sense to shop the sales for pieces you don't actually want or need. The same applies to gift-giving; it's all too easy to panic-buy presents ahead of Christmas or birthdays just because they are 30 per cent off. Consider whether your recipient actually needs that item.

In order to prevent getting swept up in the excitement of the sales – then ending up with a load of unnecessary things that will sit in your wardrobe or clutter up your home – take a moment to consider the best approach for you.

To help, we have compiled a list of questions to consider asking yourself before you buy anything in the sales and beyond.

1. Is this a brand you actually like?

There's a temptation to go rogue when it comes to sales shopping. Normally, when we want to buy something we love, we head to our favourite brands or stores because we like their aesthetic, quality and/or fit. For some reason, a sale often makes us throw a measured approach to the wind, causing us to dive into shops we'd otherwise avoid. Resist the temptation. You will have a far better chance of ending up with a piece you love if you stick to your tried-and-tested brands.

2. Do you already have this item in your wardrobe?

Be aware of what you are lacking and need to invest in. Do you have something similar in your wardrobe that serves exactly the same function? Do a proper wardrobe clear-out beforehand, make a note of what you're looking for and stick to it to avoid impulse purchases that you will inevitably regret. Look at your wardrobe and bag up anything (for charity or resale) that you haven't worn in the past year – if something has remained unworn during that time period, it's unlikely you'll bring it out again soon. Only then will you see the gaps in your wardrobe.

sales shopping
Archive Photos - Getty Images

3. Will it actually suit your body shape?

It's well worth spending some time thinking about what is in your wardrobe already that suits you – the size, colour and fabrics you love – and then looking for specific things on sale rather than walking in blindly. You'll quickly find that you feel much more confident and comfortable when getting dressed, as you're picking the right pieces that work for you.

4. Would you buy it if it wasn't on sale?

Is your mindset currently: "The more you spend, the more you save"? Think again. It's easy to get carried away when you're sale shopping, but items that have been dramatically marked down in price are not a bargain if you're not going to use them. If you wouldn't buy it at full price, then it's not worth spending even half of that. Try to remember that the best deals only really apply to the clothing that you're going to wear often and not to those that will be left hanging in your wardrobe.

5. Are you going to have to make alterations to it?

If you're yearning for something specific and it doesn't fall into the sale, don't go for the same thing in a different colour or – more importantly – a different size.

6. Do you really love it?

Now this is key. Buying something should make you feel good. There is no point in buying anything if it makes you feel slightly self-conscious or it gives you any cause for concern. Shopping should make you smile.

sales shopping
Hanna Lassen - Getty Images

7. Will it date quickly?

Avoid trend-led items and stick to investment pieces that you will be able to wear for years to come. While everyone on the front row might be wearing that particular item this season, there is every chance it will look out of date very soon and, if it's already in the sale, the moment may well have passed. Choose capsule classics that are not likely to age quite as quickly.

8. Can you picture wearing it with three other items in your wardrobe?

Don't buy anything if it involves needing to buy other items. If a piece is right, then it should automatically work with your existing pieces, otherwise, it'll end up dormant in your wardrobe.

9. Are you panic-buying?

The sales are not the last shopping event ever, so if you don't manage to pick up what you want, sit back and wait for the next opportunity. The next discount is right around the corner and you might have more luck next time. Don't just frantically buy what's in the sale for the sake of it; always wait for the right moment.

sales shopping
Edward Berthelot - Getty Images

10. Have you done your research?

Do your research beforehand – most shops will reveal what they plan to do ahead of time, so make sure you know where to find the best deals. This is particularly important if you're in the market for a specific designer piece that's available at numerous outlets. Looking around in advance could save you a huge amount of money.

Sign up for all of your favourite brands' and shops' newsletters so as soon as the information is revealed, you're in the know. Even better? Create a wish list online and they may email you about the particular pieces you are interested in when they head into the sale.

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