5 Ways To Shop Sales If You Want To Avoid Buying 5 Pairs Of The Same Stripy Top

When walking into a store marked red with sale signs, it can be tricky to keep in mind how to shop seasonal sales wisely. The music is pumping, floor people are smiling encouragingly, and colors and fabrics catch your eye like flirty smiles at the bar. Now that everything is at least half off, the possibilities are endless. Never thought you’d be one to wear floral print pants? Well, when they’re only $10, you definitely will! Always felt slightly fidgety in a short mini? This bandage one costs about as much as your morning coffee, so I mean… you’ll learn to get used to it, right? Or how about this plexi skirt? Sure it feels and looks like plastic, but you’re drunk off of savings and you’ll find a way to pull off the Mrs. Jetson look. Eventually.

What your “eventually” will look like, however, is a face full of regret as you stuff a donation bin full of pieces with their price tags still on. You understand those feels: Most of us have had at least one, “What the hell was I thinking?” outfit moment in our lives. It’s not our fault! There’s something insane in the air when sales doors open. It’s like we’ve just put our faces in a supply of catnip.

Never fear, though. There are certain measures you can take that will help you pump the breaks and check yourself in the dressing room. Below are five tips on how to shop sales with a game plan, and when utilized, you’ll bring home a lot less crazy and a lot more gems.

1. Do You Have Anything Remotely Similar To It Already?

You’re standing in the sale section of the store and you feel your fingers practically hum with the excitement to dive in. The red price tags are calling your name and you’re all too willing to give up a good portion of your paycheck for these steals. But before you ransack the racks, remember that just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it should come home with you.

Just think of those heavy sighs you make when you’re cleaning out your closet. How many price tagged sleeves are hiding in the way back?

To stop the cycle of mistakes, first ask yourself if you already have something similar to the piece that caught your eye. And I don’t mean a near duplicate. I mean anything similar in tone or feel as well.

Maybe you already have a dress in that babydoll cut, or plenty of frocks in that same flirty length. If you do, you won’t feel all that different putting on this new one versus alternating between the old ones already in your closet. It’s better to save those dollars for a dress with a completely new attitude.

2. Does It Fit You Just Right?

Not "does it fit you somewhat OK," or, "does it fit you good enough." Let’s face it: As much as you believe that you’re going to take this piece to the tailor or hem it yourself, that’s not going to happen immediately. If you’re like me, it’ll happen in about seven months when you’re feeling bored and watching a cancelled BBC show on Netflix.

Don’t put yourself through that. If something doesn’t fit but it’s $10, it still doesn't fit. Period. It’s best to save those $10 and put them towards a piece you'll actually love Would you rather have five pairs of ill-fitting pants or one gorgeous skirt that’ll make your heart turn over in its chest?

3. Do You Have Anything In Your Closet That Will Go With It?

The thing with sales is that you usually hit them without any sort of game plan. The savvy shopper shows up at the mall with war paint on her cheeks and a list of holes in her closet that she’d like to fill. That way she doesn’t get sidetracked by pretty suede booties or frivolous but fun wide brim hats. When you hit a sale, though, you don’t really know what you could find there. You sort of poke in to see if you can maybe find a gem in between the no-sellers. Which means you don’t have clear priorities in place... which can lead to a bigger donation bag come spring cleaning time. Oy.

In order to pump the breaks on the impulse buys, ask yourself if you have anything that matches the piece in question. And not just a flippant, “Ah, yeah, I have a cardi that could go with that dress.” I mean, do you have a whole outfit you can create around it? Do you have shoes that will go with it, a bag, maybe an extra layer that will give it some pow? If you don’t already have pieces in your closet that will play nice with your sale item, that means you’ll only have to go shopping again to find them. That, or you’ll just never end up wearing it.

4. Is It Good Quality?

By the time a piece hits the sales rack, it might have seen some hard times in its life. Concealer might be smeared around the neckline, sequins could be loose, threads might be poking out and unraveling, tiny holes might be forming at the sleeve or the sweep of a skirt. Don’t settle for an unraveling item just because it’s 90 percent off. If it’s worn down, it’ll look worn down. There’s not much going around that simple fact.

On top of that, check and see the feel of the material. Will it hold its shape after a couple of washes? Is it dry clean only? Will the color fade quickly? These answers will help you decide if it’s worth spending your martini money on.

5. What Exactly Do You Love About It?

Personally, this is my favorite question to ask because it cuts right to the heart of the matter. It really shows if you truly love the piece, or if you’re considering it just because it costs less than an appetizer. While you’re standing in the mirror, seriously debating bringing that dress or shirt or whatever home, try to list three things that you love about it. Do you like the way the skirt swishes? Do you find some serious pattern play potential with the print? Do you love how confident or beautiful it makes you feel?

If you answer something vague like, “The color is OK,” or, “It’ll look fine with jeans,” then maybe you can do better. Try to pick clothes that make you feel something, whether it’s excited, playful, beautiful, powerful — whatever you fancy. That way you won’t just have a closet of clothes, you’ll have a reflection of your personality and the woman you are and want to be.

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