How To Take On The Post-Christmas Sales And Win
The Debrief: You’re going to need sharp elbows and plenty of fluids
You didn’t think you were going to do it. You thought this would be the year you ignored the siren call of the discount sticker and stayed at home under a blanket, maybe with a glass of port and the rest of the panettone, feeling smug that other people are wrestling over a 30% off beaded bolero on the floor of River Island while you’ve evolved beyond materialistic greed. Now you only have food-greed. The noble kind.
You thought that was what would happen, but obviously it didn’t and it won’t. Nor will you manage to do it all calmly and civilly online either. What WILL happen is that you’ll go out one day between Christmas and new year intending to have a nice, bracing walk through some fields, then find yourself an hour later, bewildered, in the changing room queue of a suburban John Lewis with no absolutely memory of how you got there.
But it’s all ok – sales shopping doesn’t have to spell misery, capitalist guilt and a minor kidney infection. Here’s how to do sales shopping IRL and survive.
'BUT LAUREN, IT IS ALREADY BOXING DAY,' you cry. 'I haven’t planned, I was too busy with all the cheese!'
It’s fine, it’s fine. All you need to do is spend a few minutes setting your aims and objectives for this sales shopping trip. What do you want to achieve? Is there an occasion you need an outfit for? Is there a thing you saw before Christmas that you’re hoping might be cheap now? Is there a thing you want to wear but don’t because you can never find anything to go with it? Is there a thing you need to be led gently but sternly away from? Is there a shop you’ve previously been banned from for getting too elbow-happy in a scrum among the handbags? Will you need tights? Will you need snacks? Will you need a map for quick escape from the biggest ladies’ lingerie department in Ireland? PLAN AHEAD.
2.Get up early – or go really late
If there is one thing we can learn from the ladies who get up at 5am to go to the Next sale, apart from never to underestimate the allure of a cut-price smock top, is that the early bird catches the worm. The early bird might eventually return the worm, but at least the early bird found it in her size and didn’t end up spending £32 on glitter socks in Urban Outfitters just so she’d have something to look at on the bus home.
The alternative to hauling yourself out of bed at dawn is to find shops that open late and have a lovely moonlight trawl through the cast-offs when everyone else has gone home to their sofas. If you’re in a big city, that is. If you’re at home in suburbia then you’re less likely to find a Zara open past 6pm than you are a Shrimps jacket mistakenly marked down to £30, so give up this dream and set your alarm clock now. Shop now, nap later.
Shopping centres are hotbeds of potential cystitis at the best of times, but when you’re half pickled in Christmas spirit(s) and it’s the most unseasonably warm December on record, you really need to make sure you’re replete with fluids.
Carry water and a couple of easy-peel satsumas in your handbag, and have a sit down whenever it feels necessary. Don’t be a hero.
4.Look out for the classics
Not to sound too much like a ‘fashion guru’ on This Morning, but that old chestnut about buying ‘classics’ in the sale rather than trend items is solid advice.
Provided you actually want and will wear ‘classics’ (that’s cashmere jumpers, leather jackets, sturdy boots, loafers, leather bags, tailored trousers, shirts if you actually wear shirts, jeans and decent underwear) you’ll feel so much more smug with yourself for gravitating towards them than buying all the stuff you wanted back in September and realising the trend will be dead before you’ve even finished the Miniature Heroes. There’s a reason all the suedette dungaree dresses are half price, you know.
5.Remember, Christmas is over
You’re still festive-drunk from Christmas, as well as probably alcohol-drunk from alcohol, so it’s not surprising that you’re going to flock to discount glitz like a stingy magpie. So many beautiful, shiny things! Such glamour! Much joy! But before you go the full Liberace, take a moment to stop and think veeeery carefully about how many occasions you're actually going to have to wear a sequinned playsuit in January.
If you have a birthday, an ambassador’s ball or a massive, spangly NYE party to attend, by all means go right ahead. But if this retail adventure is just going to end with you rocking up to every pub lunch until March looking like Shirley Bassey just to ease the guilt, save yourself three months of sequin-induced thrush and just buy a nice candle. Or even better, buy summery stuff that you can whip casually out of the back of the wardrobe as soon as the first April heatwave hits.
6.Beware the curse of the giftcard
It is a scientific truth that the moment a giftcard is purchased, that particular store will remove every single thing you like from its shelves.
The week before there might have been rack after rack of really nice clothes, but the moment you walk through the door with a voucher clasped in your sweaty palm, all that stuff will have magically vanished and instead there will only be longline beige cardigans and weird, misshapen things made from khaki sackcloth. With the giftcard like a albatross round your neck, you’ll walk around looking at the beige cardigans and khaki sacks for so long that you forget what nice things even look like, have a small breakdown by the earrings, and end up spending it all on a new wash bag and some temporary tattoos.
To avoid the curse of the giftcard, just take a deep breath and remember you don't actually *have* to spend it RIGHT NOW just so you can tell your Nan what you bought in your thank-you letter. Honestly, you don’t. You are a grown woman. Just lie.
7.Recognise your urges and from whence they came
For example: do you want this gold lame ballgown because you look incredible in it, or do you want this gold lame ballgown because The Sound of Music was on TV last night and you’ve always had a latent crush on the Baroness? Are you suddenly considering a quilted Barbour jacket because you actually like them, or because your cousin kept making sneery comments about how ‘fun’ your wardrobe is?
Do you really need new bedding, or are you just avoiding having to try to get the memory of Weird Angus from Accounts out of your current sheets? Identify the source of these feelings and confront them before typing your PIN in, like a brilliant emotion-detective.
8.Check you actually like it before you buy it
Seems an obvious one, this, but it’s incredible how often we forget. Do you actually like it, or is it just £7 and not horrible? Would you like something else you could buy for £7 more than this thing, such as body lotion or a small pizza? Would you be more likely to reap joy from £7-worth of scratchcards than from this thing which, now you come to think of it, might actually be a tutu for a dog?
Put it down and walk slowly away. Cradle your £7. Hug it close. You’ve done well.
9.Quit while you’re ahead (or still have your head)
Probably go home now, I reckon. There’s still some cheese left.
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