The Sales: How Low Can You Go?

Happy New Year! How was it? Did you get what you wanted? Or have you had to take an extra day off work to stand in a snaking Zara queue made up of disgruntled shoppers wanting to exchange unwanted gifts? I’ve backed out of my local Zara branch twice already this sale period, at the sight of the endless queue. I’m not sure how they manage it, but the misery on the faces of the staff behind the counter suggests they’re not very happy about it either. I blame the staples; they’re very preoccupied with stapling receipts in Zara and I’m not sure why.

It’s tempting to go home and simply browse the January sales online, particularly when you have a small child who likes to get into shop window displays and hide in amongst the hanging rails. But online shopping isn’t half the fun that doing battle on the high street can be – pressing the return button on your laptop doesn’t come close to the thrill of handing your credit card over and carrying your purchases home in errm, a grubby old fabric bag you got free with a summer magazine.*

So how to approach the sales? Early in the morning obviously, and in comfortable shoes and good underwear. Regular breaks for refreshment are a must but the most important thing is to remain focused (easier said than done I know. I am always, ALWAYS distracted by sparkly shoes and piles of DVDs) so you don’t waste time. When I finally braved the Zara sale with veteran shopping friend Clare this week, we both went into the fitting rooms with seven items. I’d picked out a jumpsuit so unflattering, even a plumber wouldn’t have touched it, a cream blouse which would have been ideal if I was about to be led from the tower and beheaded. I also had a skater skirt fit for a seven year old, just because well, it was reduced to £12. Everything Clare tried on she admitted she had at least five versions of at home, before pronouncing it potentially “really useful”. She’s a bad influence, is Clare, but it was her birthday and I didn’t like to spoil her fun. She had set me straight right at the outset when I almost ruined our spree by declaring “but I really don’t need it…”. With a curt “I don’t think it’s really about NEEDING things at this point though, is it?” I was reminded that we were there to have fun, not to actually achieve anything.

So no Clare’s right (dammit), rarely do we need anything right after the excesses of Christmas (except maybe a revised fitness plan), but discounts do funny things to people so let’s just have some restraint and allow for some rules. Rules are good, People! Humans need boundaries. Here are some:

Although it’s getting colder and it’s a long way off, you need to Think Spring. There are always some trends that continue on into the next season, some that even survive from the previous Spring and inevitably those that don’t. I find ‘70% off’ signage irresistible too but seriously, count to ten before you hand over the readies for anything with the face of a mammal on it. Also, you know how you get a lump in your throat when you see Christmas trees stripped of their finery and left for dead in the gutter, post-New Year? Well, I’m a bit the same when it comes to piles of un-sellable clothes – I feel sorry for them and want to offer them a home. DON’T DO IT! The people at Brandalley and/or TK Maxx will be very kind to them and they’ll get to mix with all sorts of interesting clothes from all over the world. It’s not your job to give a home to all the ill advised fashion trends out there.

I digress. If you spot any of the following trends on the sale rail, sharpen your elbows:

The long coat.

Cardigan coat down from £265 to £160 at Reiss

Cardigan coat down from £265 to £160 at Reiss

Always worth investing in a classic coat, in this country it’s a no-brainer. I’ve hardly worn a coat yet this season but you know it will happen eventually. This coat/cardigan hybrid is lightweight yet still cosy.


Checked dress down from £195 to £80 at Reiss

Checked dress down from £195 to £80 at Reiss

Started to appear last summer and was a big presence at the Spring Summer 2016 shows. It’s cute and fresh and looks great with denim obviously. Probably best to avoid cowboy boots with this unless you want to look like Doris Day in Calamity Jane. Strangely, this was exactly my mum’s justification for a new pair of Hollister trousers this week.

Suede (it just won’t go away will it?)

Suede bag down from £49.99 to £29.99 at Zara

Suede bag down from £49.99 to £29.99 at Zara

I’ve picked out a brightly coloured clutch as I’m bored of the suede skirts. It’s still impractical but it’s also a great all year round fabric and this colour is gorgeous. Suede is as useful as denim, only much more expensive to get ice-cream out of.

The midi or maxi skirt.

Maxi skirt down from £199 to £75 at Karen Millen

Maxi skirt down from £199 to £75 at Karen Millen

A longer skirt in a lighter fabric will serve you well as we approach spring. Dress down with a leather jacket now and then a denim jacket later. Heels only with the midi length please. Pleats look lovely on straight up and down shapes, not so lovely with curves – go for a smooth line skirt instead.

The shoulder baring dress.

Silk dress down from £110 to £54.99 at Banana Republic

Silk dress down from £110 to £54.99 at Banana Republic

There were lots of strapless and off the shoulder styles again on the catwalks which is very good news. Wear this one shoulder 100% silk piece with white trainers for an effortless cool. Great for pear shapes.

The Sleeve.

Fluted sleeve blouse down from £85 to £54.90 at

Fluted sleeve blouse down from £85 to £54.90 at

I know I’ve been harping on about them, but trust me sleeves are going to be a feature this year – unless of course you’re going strapless in which case their feature is being entirely absent. No-one said fashion wasn’t ridiculously complicated at times.



You see here’s the thing. Underwear isn’t a slave to trends and so I fail to see the point in paying full whack for it. For something so small and largely unseen, I figure you might as well wait for it to be reduced. But, I also think underwear should probably be thrown out more often. Having eaten myself up a whole cup size this Chrimbo, personally I have no choice, but I reckon if a bra works hard in its lifetime, then it should be offered early retirement.

Lecture over. Having applied these rules to my own shopping this week, I am now the proud owner of four new bras, a coat, some Anthroplogie hairbands and a packet of rhubarb and custard sweets. Clare on the other hand, who didn’t need anything, bought almost everything she tried on. Happy sale shopping everyone!

*This 5p charge for bags is pissing me off already.

About aftercarrie

I help people refine their wardrobe to suit their shape, colouring and lifestyle. I am a style consultant, personal shopper and colour analyst working in London. Be the loveliest possible you. My first book SHOPPED was released on 5th July 2016 (September Publishing).
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