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What To Buy & What Not To Buy In The Sale

Follow a few rules to bag yourself a bargain in the sales 
and create a perfect classic wardrobe in the process

(p.s. this post is probably not for the fashionistas, it's aimed more at women who are looking to create a forever wardrobe).

It's that mad reduction time again but don't get carried away. Remember what I said a couple of posts a go, items in the sale are leftovers, stuff that people didn't want to buy at full price. But you can bag yourself absolute bargains, if you shop savvy.

Forget gingham. Isn't it looking tired already? Bardot tops may be have had their fill. I'm a bit on the fence with frills and ruffles because whilst I crave a simpler line on my clothes, I think done well, a bit of a frill can command it's own longevity.

On the whole, I'm more about buying better quality basics in the sale. Something that maybe at full price I've thought 'ouch' but suddenly seems very affordable and good value. Here's my take on what to buy and what to leave.

Buy It

This Baukjen top which is now a very, very reasonable £32. Ok, so we're not going to be swanning around the French Riviera in it right now or even Margate given our current weather situation. But come autumn (or if you're in the North West, next week), you'll be delighted that you bought out of season. It's a great top for layering underneath jackets and cardigans and knowing the brand, it will have great drapability (great onomatopoeia-ish word). One of the things I like about Baukjen is the amount of information that they provide about each item. So size down with this one.

Baukjen Ella Top Was £65, now £32

Long sleeve grey t-shirt with v-neck

Leave It

Are stars so last season? Maybe, maybe not. I loved the freshness of this t-shirt when it first came out but think I'm probably fed up of seeing those pointy things on tops and jeans and shoes and bags. Star overload. Sorry Baukjen, I love you really.

Baukjen  Skylar T-Shirt was £55, now £35

white v-neck t-shirt with stars

Buy It

That gulp moment when you see something that you love but think wow, I need to sell a child, suddenly seems less out of reach. Well, maybe you only need to sell half a kidney. It's a bit special isn't it? Something to reach for over and over again. We're told to  size down, handy that because my size is in stock (I'm on a spending ban 😞 ).

Baukjen Monmouth Leather Blazer Was £399 Now £239

ladies classic leather blazer

Leave It

Ok, I can't believe for one minute that this will appeal to many people unless you're stuck in the middle of Glastonbury and can arrange an express delivery from Hermes. But, I kind of wanted to make a point here. This was featured in Grazia and even they couldn't shift it. It's very errrrr......niche. Don't be sucked in to the hype that just because the press thinks something is ace, that it is. Floral outerwear is obviously less versatile than something plainer and more classic in style.

Warehouse Peony Pop Windbreaker was £99, now £50

festival mac in floral

Buy It

Here's a classic for the wardrobe, the trench and a great time to pick up a bargain. I have a grey one from Great Plains which I love (link here - it's also in the sale). My beige one is a bit meh so needs replacing. One thing I've found about a trench though is that I seem to go straight from thick winter coats into blazers so I don't wear mine as much as I would like. Will be addressing this issue come autumn. The thing about a trench is that whatever trend you wear it with, it kind of works  and is instantly brought up to date. Cropped wide legs, skinny jeans, midi skirts....

Baukjen Brook Trench Coat was £249 now £149

ladies classic long trench

Leave It

There's actually nothing wrong with the following trench coat. Indeed, I think it's lovely but don't buy a fashion colour unless you have a neutral one already. Far better to build up a wardrobe of very wearable pieces and then add a pop of colour here and there. If you tend to buy what you like, chances are your wardrobe may not be so cohesive. But if you already have a neutral coloured trench (beige, tan, black, grey, navy), then you may want to consider this. 

ladies long trench in mustard

Buy It

A jumpsuit seems to have claimed it's place in our wardrobe and become a real staple. The tencel one that I have from Kaleidoscope has been reduced. And because it's tencel rather than denim, it's lovely and soft to wear. I'm looking forward to layering it with my big chunky winter white coatigan and ankle boots but for now I'll style it as I did earlier in spring below.

Kaleidoscope Denim Look Tencel Jumpsuit was £49 now £32

denim jumpsuit

Leave It

(unless you have an occasion in mind)

It's easy to get carried away in the sale. I know because I've done it far too many times, 'oooh 60% off, what a bargain'. So we buy it, put it in the wardrobe and never actually wear it. That's exactly what retailers want. To off-load their unsold stock on to us (of course it's a bonus if we don't wear it because we'll be back shopping again sooner rather than later). Take this jumpsuit, which is beautiful I might add (red heads, this is a great colour for you - just saying!). We buy it thinking, yep, that will be great at Christmas. Christmas what? Shopping? School run? Quick bite to eat with friends? Christmas markets? See, it will go unworn if you haven't got an event planned. And if you're anything like me, you'll be sick of seeing it hanging in your wardrobe before you get around to wearing it. And then when said event comes around, you'll buy something new 😝

occasion wear dressy jumpsuit

Buy It

The beauty about wardrobe classics is that with a bit of thought, they can be a bit chameleon. These wide leg crops for instance. You can do 70s chic on a Monday with knee length, heeled boots and then add a white shirt and trainers on Tuesday for a more contemporary look (I call it the Me&Em look - tailored, clean lines and very modern).

La Redoute Wide Leg 3/4 Length Trousers was £49 now £29.40 quote EXTRA10 for a further 10% off)

ladies wide leg cropped trousers

This is a look that is so easy to wear, chunky knit and Chanel-esque pumps. Ok, these are denim but I think you get my drift.

ladies chunky jumper and cropped jeans
Image c/o Pinterest

Leave It

Closing the stable door after the horse has bolted springs to mind with the frill trousers. If you've already got them, I reckon you can squeeze another season but personally I don't think I would buy them now. They're too fashion led and I feel I may well have contradicted myself in a previous post!!!!!

frill bottom trousers

Buy It

A winter white coat. Let's say that again. A winter white coat. Sigh. I can picture some of you reeling in horror. White? Children? Grubby fingers? Errrr no. Ok, it's not something I would wear daily on the school run but if you're buying out of want rather than need, get this! You'll be surprised at how many occasions you'll reach for it. And I really can't think of any outfit you couldn't wear it with.

Mango Unstructured Wool Coat was £99.99 now £49.99

ladies winter white coat

Leave It

This really is a lovely, versatile coat but there's one problem....the collar. It's too high if you wear make-up. You can't really see it in this shot but trust me it is. Honestly, light colours and high necks do not go together. You'll spend more time taking it to the cleaners and let's not even talk about the cost! Other than that though, it's grand.

ASOS Oversized Cocoon Coat was £85, now £59.50

ladies pink coat

Buy It

An absolute timeless classic is the Breton stripe and Boden has a big reduction on theirs right now. People have said that they've changed the fabric but honestly I prefer it. Yes, slightly thiner (but certainly not see through) which means it's less stiff to wear. And it doesn't bobble. Mine still look as good as the day I bought them.There are a lot of colour ways that I wouldn't buy but classic ivory and navy or navy and ivory (yes they are different) are wardrobe staples.

Boden Long Sleeve was £28 now £16.80

ladies long sleeve breton top

Or yellow. I love yellow and navy together or even yellow and grey.

Boden Long Sleeve Breton was £28 now £16.80

ladies long sleeve breton top 1

Leave it

Another example of, as featured in Grazia so it should sell out straight away. Well it hasn't. Over designed clothes drive me demented. Often they are so hard to style. I can't even work out which body shape other than possibly a lean column, this shirt would work on. Get rid of the silly tie thing and overhang, and you've got yourself a great extra long stripey shirt that you can do lots with. I suspect further reductions will be imminent. 

ladies long sleeve stripe shirt

Buy It

Now's the time to pick up a bargain at Me&Em. You're obviously paying for quality here, I have jersey tops that are a couple of years old now and they're still going. I love their layering tops, great foundations under big jumpers and jackets.

Me&Em Georgette Collared Layering Blouse was £89 now £62

ladies layering shirt

Leave It

Because we just know that it will be crispy and stand off the body tent-like! Cheap fabrics always end up in the sale don't they? That said, it's aimed at a younger buyer who obviously looks amazing in everything. As we get older, I do think a good fabric that suits your body shape is well worth paying more for. 

pink pussy bow blouse

Buy It

If you're still in summer mode and crave a white dress, this one from Winser London is gorgeous. I know because I borrowed it. Heavier than cotton but it does mean that it hangs really well. Little dresses like this are often overlooked because they're so simple. But you can do so much with it. Dress it down for day wear or go all out with a dress coat, heels and huge hat for a day at the races. As with all WL pieces, it's extremely comfortable because of the stretch. It was a bargain at full price so even better now it's in the sale.

Winser London Cotton Textured V Neck Shift Dress was £79 now £59

white classic dress

Here it is on.

ladies white classic dress summer styled

Also available in navy and red

Staying with dresses, I adore this one. Obviously more of a summer number. Light colour and chiffon is difficult to pull off in winter. I think it could look absolutely stunning dressed up and a real play on the traditional shirt dress. You could also dress it down with trainers.

Karen Millen White Long-Line Shirt Dress was £199 now £95

long white shirt dress

Leave It

Anyone know what's wrong with this dress? At first glance, it looks ok (pockets always score well). The pattern is pretty inoffensive and the colour is quite nice. Check out the reviews, it scores 2.6 out of 5 with many saying that it's a weird fit. Often these sorts of items go into the sale. I picked up a fabulous dress in M&S last year, reduced, reduced and reduced again. You know when the heart starts beating faster and you can't wait to get into the changing rooms to try on the bargain of the century!!! Except the body was cut too short, meaning that the waist sat virtually under my bust. I briefly considered passing it off as an empire line. Only briefly mind. Always worth checking reviews. 

mustard dress with pockets

Buy It

I'm a bit over Stan Smiths et al, they're everywhere and my kids laugh at me when I say I need a new pair. I'm not a big buyer of fashion trainers, in fact a pair of white leather Adidas Honey Los that I bought over 18 months ago are still pristine (very washable; 20 degrees, 800 spin and then dry in the airing cupboard). The son is agog that I can keep them so clean in between washes. I have however been looking for a more grown up pair of neutral trainers and this could be the answer. These would look great with a pair of black ankle grazer trousers, crisp white shirt and my grey trench (yep I'm outfit planning).

Lauren Ralph Lauren Jay Suede Lace Up Trainer was £84.95 now £50.97 or more sizes here now £68

ladies grey designer trainers

Leave it

I never really got into the whole embroidered trend: bags, shoes, trainers, tops, jeans, macs. Pretty much everything this season was subjected to the needle and colourful thread. I blame my mum who made me wear matching jeans to hers in the 70s with a toadstool embroidered on the back pocket. God, I hated those jeans and purposely rubbed a hole in the knee so that I didn't have to wear them anymore. Except she bought a sew on patch. Another ruddy toadstool 🙈

The ones up there ^^ will stick around far longer in your wardrobe than these.

ladies embroidered trainers

So, in summary:

- Buy classics first and foremost, you can add fashion pieces to them each season to freshen up your look

- Buy basics out of season and stash

- Work on your neutral colours first of all

- Look at websites that may ordinarily be out of your reach

- Think about what's already in your wardrobe. If you need to buy other things to make an outfit, it isn't a bargain

- Don't buy really high fashion pieces at the end of a season unless you're happy to ditch after wearing them a few times

- Don't buy occasion pieces unless you have an occasion in mind

- Check the reviews before buying

- Look for really great fabrics

- Think about practicalities such as high collars in light colours

- Be realistic. A 6 inch embellished stiletto may look amazing but when are you going to wear them?

Ask yourself does it have longevity?

You may remember that I ordered this skirt from The Outnet and here it is...

Iris & Ink Wool Skirt £105 (40% off at checkout)

winter white wool skirt

It takes a lot of the points on the checklist above:

It's a neutral colour

Very wearable in winter

I already have lots of jumpers and tops to go with it

It's a great fabric, 100% wool (and hand washable)

It's pretty classic but not frumpy

It will work well with current trends

It has longevity

It's practical (can be worn with long boots, high heels and trainers)

So it's probably going to be a good buy. If you order it too (here), size up. Not because it comes up small but this style can be clingy. There's not much difference between sizes so better for it to skim than sucker-to-your-curves.

Happy sales shopping and let me know if I've missed anything that can be added to the checklist above.

Feeling a little sorry for myself because I've been back to the physio today with a reoccurring back problem. She told me that I'm getting old (in a nice way) and that it will keep happening. Basically I won't be appearing on Dancing On Ice in this lifetime. Oh yeay. So I'll sign off now and go and do my prescribed exercises. Rock and roll (that's an exercise, not a state of mind).

4 comments on "What To Buy & What Not To Buy In The Sale"
  1. Hi Donna, that's a great summary. So glad that leather blazer is oos in my size..too tempting. After 2 years of rebuilding my wardrobe (change of location/climate, coupled with a move from FT professional (suit) role to PT work mainly from home), my new rules are
    - replace/upgrade favourites. Current targets - Eileen Fisher pieces in black, bone(offwhite) and surplus (khaki); Jaeger linen trousers
    - stalk those 'wishlist' pieces that are beyond the budget full price. Last win - Eileen Fisher long linen cardigan in bone, was $400, bought for $95
    - take the opportunity to try new colours/styles/fabrics. While my wardrobe is mainly neutrals, I'm eyeing off a pair of bright pink(!) wide leg trousers and matching dress from Gudrun Sjoden. We're heading into winter here in Australia, but think these would be fabulous for an upcoming tropical holiday. Colourful and hot weather friendly fabric.

    1. Hi Rachel thanks for taking the time to comment. Wow, you really have made a change. I love Eileen Fisher but had to google Gudrun Sjoden. I'd love to come and have a rummage in your wardrobe lol x

  2. Great post thanks, I really like the way you talk about building a sustainable and flattering wardrobe rather than pushing the latest trends. I am definitely guilty of buying dressy things in the sale for the lifestyle I don't actually have! I am looking for a warmer shade of mac - like you the one I have does nothing for me - but sadly the Baukjen one is OOS in my size, so I may go for the Hobbs Saskia in the honey colour when they do a discount.

    1. I think we all are Claire. It's really easy to jump onto the aspirational band wagon isn't it? I'm consciously trying to buy things that will work for my lifestyle and I look at my summer wardrobe this year and know that I won't need to start all over again in 2018 because there's a bit of longevity there now. It might be worth doing a saved search on Ebay, you might strike lucky with the Baukjen mac. And you can't get any classier than the Hobbs one - divine. Have a look at the Winser London Trench Coat too which is half price (now £125) http://www.winserlondon.com/jackets-coats/winser-trench-coat.html
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Claire x