If your best friend, sister or daughter has her eye on some designer clothes this holiday, you can be the secret Santa that makes her dreams come true. Here’s a little secret for you, though – you don’t need to pay designer prices. By shopping at a sample sale, you’ll find bargain prices on all the right brands. Here’s how:
Do Your Research
Before heading out to a sale, do thorough research. Slashed prices may draw you in, but with proper research and an eye for fashion design you’ll know the difference between a major markdown and a tiny discount. LuckyMag.com suggests reading up on a brand’s past sample sales to eliminate stress and surprises the day of the big event. Many websites such as Racked.com offer exclusive sale details as the date draws near.
What’s the Game Plan
Sample sales can be overwhelming and once inside you can easily lose sight of what you came for. You may generally visit J. Crew to browse, but when it comes to the brand’s sample sale you must be on a mission. Be specific and come with a game plan. Who are you buying for and what are you looking for? You don’t want to be distracted by shiny jewelry or a flowing blouse and end up with three decent items instead of the one thing you came for. As Stephanie Sporn from LuckyMag.com says, “A smart shopper is not a spontaneous one.”
Scope Out the Scene
If you can, go a day or two early to scope out the setting and get a feel for what you’ll be getting into. Not only will you be able to get a feel for the layout of the area, but you’ll be able to get a glimpse of big ticket items. Be prepared to be turned away, but if you aren’t afraid of the chance of rejection you may be admitted and rewarded with an early bird special.
If you arrive fashionably early, you may spend a few hours waiting in the front of the line for the event to open. Not only should you bring a few snacks, but come prepared with a measuring tape and the dress sizes you are looking for. Since most sales are final, you don’t want to risk buying an item for a friend that you aren’t sure will fit. Take down her shoe size as well.
Don’t Trust Sizes
Real samples are usually tailored for a specific model and can list a different size than they truly are. Carefully examine each garment before purchasing – check for true sizing, cut, and any irregularities or imperfections that could effect its use or quality. If you find a loose button, stubborn zipper or torn item you are willing to bargain for, ask for a deeper discount at the cash register. If the saleswoman won’t easily budge on the price, ask if she’ll throw in a smaller accessory for free.
If you don’t trust the size listed on the label but you don’t trust your eyes either, you’ll want to try garments on before purchasing. Even if buying for a friend with a slightly different body type than yours, you’ll get a better idea of what the clothing will look like on her if you try it on. Because of the crowds, individual fitting rooms are rare. Plan for a public dressing room and wear tights and a top you can easily slip clothes over.
A Sample Splurge
You may have gone shopping with a friend in mind, but if you find a killer item that is ridiculously cheap, buy it. It could be a great welcoming gift to neighbors or a future birthday gift for a new friend. Sample sales are also a great place to stock up on designer mittens, scarves and hats – an item you can buy for anyone without having to know their particular sizes.