Love it or hate it, Black Friday week is here, and with it comes a slew of fashion brands trying to outbid each other in offering consumers the best discounts and deals. I understand if you're someone who usually avoids these sales at all costs (maybe you've seen those apocalyptic scenes that grace the headlines every November), but with this year's sales being predominantly digital, the landscape looks a little different. We might not have the heaving crowds that we used to, but we do have endless scrolling through pages upon pages of discounted products and the issues that come with online shopping, such as sizing and delivery.
As someone who has spent many hours scouring the internet to find the crème de la crème of the online shopping market, I've picked up a few hacks along the way, from the simplest tricks (make a list, and stick to it) to the rules I always adhere to (never shop when tired or emotional). Scroll down to see my dos and don'ts for shopping the seasonal sales.
When it comes to buying those wardrobe heavy-lifters—think winter coats, boots and jumpers—my mantra has always been quality over quantity, but I also understand that not everyone has the funds to fork out three figures for a pair of lace-ups. However, this is where waiting for the sales can pay off. Create your wish list on-site, and then check back in when the discounts go live. You never know. You might just nab your dream piece at a fraction of the price.
Don't Rule Out Out-of-Season Staples
While it might feel totally incongruous to purchase summer sandals or a bikini in the depths of winter, it's actually a very savvy way to shop, and you can find some real gems on sale when you shop out of season (i.e. when demand for warm-weather pieces is low). The key is to filter the thousands of sale items by searching by brand—Marysia for swimwear, for example—or product, as it will allow you to create a smaller pool from which to shop.
One of the biggest difficulties of online shopping has to be the fact that you can't try things on IRL, and while I know that this will sound obvious, it really is worth checking and double-checking those measurements. That's right. Get out the tape measurer, and do the work because it'll be worth it to get that perfect fit. Some sites even offer a tool that allows you to input your measurements to get an even more accurate result. Oh, and don't buy something in a smaller size hoping that you'll "lose the weight to fit into it." It never ends well.
Don't Buy Something Just Because It's on Sale
Sale shopping can do funny things to one's head. In my experience, it can result in logic and reason flying out the window the moment you see your fave fashion brand offering 50% off. The adrenaline kicks in, your pupils dilate, and before you know it, you've spent your week's food budget on a feather-trimmed kimono. Stick to what you know (i.e. your usual personal style), stick to your budget, and repeat after me: Don't buy things just because they're on sale. This leads me to my next point…
One way to avoid the sale-shopping apocalypse is to make a list before you start scrolling. This can take the form of a wish list, which many e-commerce sites offer, but personally, I love a good old notepad. In my experience, there's something about writing that helps keep the mind focused. Take a long, hard look at your wardrobe, work out if there are any holes, and then take a moment to study your list to make sure these are pieces you actually need. Once you've given your list the green light, you'll not only have a way to edit down the selection online, but you'll also avoid spontaneous purchases. Trust the list. The list is your friend.
Don't Forget to Check Out Second-Hand and Small-Brand Sales
When we're confronted with the noise of big name brands and their red-lettered discounts, it can be all too easy to forget that both independent and second-hand brands also offer deals on their wares during this time. Check out sites such as Depop, where vintage sellers often offer discounts and bundle deals on their collections. Or look at your favourite independent brands' Instagram feeds, and keep an eye out for Black Friday posts. Not sure where to start? Use our small-brand shopping guide as a starting point.
As I have mentioned previously, the search bar is one of the keys to sale-shopping success. Whether you search for your favourite brand, a specific item or a size category, this is the easiest way to edit down the gargantuan number of products on offer. Specificity is particularly important on big multi-brand sites such as Net-a-Porter and ASOS, so rather than searching for "beige blazer," add in more relevant keywords like "oversize, double-breasted beige blazer."
Do Buy Multiple Sizes to Try On, But Don't Over-Buy for the Sake of It
As we all know, clothing sizes are a bit of a minefield, and it's not unusual for someone to be two sizes different from one brand to the next. Plus, sometimes, we want certain things to be more oversized or fitted. This is why ordering multiple sizes can be a good tactic for online sale shopping, particularly for tricky pieces such as dresses or trousers. That being said, we should be mindful not to lose our minds and order limitless qualities of clothing just because we can. Remember that many brands have to sanitize clothing after it's returned and that there is an environmental cost to delivery and packaging.
Last but by no means least is the sneaky stress shop. We've all been there: You're feeling fed up after a long week at work, and suddenly, the Net-a-Porter app is winking at you seductively. Shopping when stressed is like grocery shopping when hungry. You're only going to come out with things you crave rather than things you actually need. So that means no 1 a.m. insomnia scrolling or cheeky retail therapy after a bad meeting. Trust me. You'll need all your wits about you to find those sartorial gems.