Love it or hate it, Black Friday week is here, bringing with it a slew of fashion brands trying to outbid each other in offering consumers the best discounts and deals. I would have complete sympathy if you're someone who usually avoids the sales at all costs (lest we forget those apocalyptic scenes that grace the news headlines every November), but with this year's sales being 100% digital, the landscape looks a little different. We might not have the heaving crowds, but we do have endless scrolling through page upon page 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 shopping hacks along the way. From the simplest tricks (make a list and stick to it) to a few rules I always adhere by (never shop when tired or emotional), scroll down to see my dos and don'ts for shopping the seasonal sales.
DO Invest in Wardrobe Classics
When it comes to buying those wardrobe heavy-lifters—think winter coats, boots, and jumpers—our mantra has always been quality over quantity, but we 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 sale gems 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.
DO Check Sizing Carefully
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 blindingly obvious, it really is worth checking and double-checking those measurements. That's right. Get out the tape measure and do the work because it'll be worth it to get that perfect fit. Some sites now even offer a tool which 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 heads, and 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…
DO Make a List Beforehand
One way to avoid 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 ole notepad. In my experience, there's something about writing IRL that helps to keep the mind focused. Take a long, hard look at your wardrobe and work out if there are any holes, then take a moment to study your list to make sure these are pieces you actually need. Once you've given it the green light, it will not only give you a way to edit down the selection online, but it will also help you avoid spontaneous purchases. Trust the list; the list is your friend.
DON'T Forget to Check Out Secondhand and Small Brand Sales
When we're confronted by the noise of big name brands and their red-lettered discounts, it can be all too easy to forget that both independent and secondhand 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 on 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.
DO Use the Search Function
As I have mentioned previously, the search bar function 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—"oversize, double-breasted beige blazer" for example.
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 oversize 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 of not losing our minds and ordering 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.
DON'T Shop When You're Feeling Tired or Stressed
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.