Forget that suede skirt. Those in the know are snapping up chic flats, no-logo bags, duster coats and mid-length dresses
It isn’t hard to shop the sales like a fashion editor: just do the opposite of whatever we told you to do six months ago. All those brand new must-have pieces we encouraged you to splurge on? They’re old hat now — so don’t even think about trying to pick them up on the cheap at this point. It’s time to move on.
Gifted with almost supernatural new season insights, fashion editors weave their way through the bargains and discounts with an eye on what will last through the next round of trends rather than what was the toast of the beau monde previously. Namely: stealthy and anonymous, high-quality purchases that may well have been reduced but that certainly haven’t fallen out of favour with the front row just yet.
Everyone dreams of picking up a designer handbag in the sales — you can, if you play it right. Rather than heading straight for the big brands, look for the prestige labels that fly under the radar. Bally’s Bloom bowling bags and printed Bernina totes are close to half price right now and will elicit the status-affirming question that all fashion editors dream of: “Ooh, who’s that by then?”
Clotheswise, look out for reliable styles that haven’t yet reached saturation point — if there’s life left in them, they’ll be back in stores again for autumn and you’ll appear fabulously prescient. Things that come under this category include duster coats, mid-length skirts and dresses, A-line minis and 1970s prints. With the latter, avoid the more lurid versions — think Marimekko rather than psychedelia. Things that don’t: pencil skirts, sleeveless blazers, overly distressed jeans and pink.
Steer clear of suede too. Yes, Alexa Chung wore the Marks & Spencer skirt, but you can bet your bottom dollar she isn’t now that the world and his wife went out to buy it.
Do buy jumpsuits and boilersuits; don’t buy playsuits. Thumbs up to tailored trenchcoats and down to sporty anoraks. Choose mannish shirts over feminine blouses — unless they come with next season Gucci-esque pussybow collar ties.
If you’re canny you should also be able to tick off any holiday gear you still need. Grab a bikini now because they’ll be much harder to find in a couple of week’s time; ditto sundresses and shorts. Treat yourself to nicer versions of each than you might otherwise have been able to afford, but avoid the styles that clearly haven’t sold well — that should tell you all you need to know.
When it comes to accessories, don’t disregard summer sandals. A subtle and chic flat pair will see you into autumn, but the more of-the-moment stacked platform wedges won’t. Unless you have a festival to go to, you can leave them on the shelf.
Anything that falls into the “timeless” bracket, such as leather jackets and smart ankle boots, is worth trying on. Remember, though, that timeless doesn’t cover non-neutral colours or strange washes. As a sales-shopping rule of thumb, the more a piece of clothing has going on, the less you should have to do with it. Look for pieces with longevity and plenty of practical wear in them — if they don’t go with anything you already own, put them down and walk away.
Finally, remember to keep a weather eye open. You should be looking for things that will see you through summer and into a reasonably warm autumn. Fine-gauge knits and layering pieces will always come in handy. Learn your lesson from last year and stock up; although balmy temperatures persisted until November, there was very little that was remotely suitable for warmer weather left in the shops by September.
Follow this fashion editor’s rules and stick to our essential shopping list for the sales and you’ll reap the benefits for the rest of the summer and beyond.