Bargaintastic fashion tips

A fashionable lady carries shopping bags.
After smashing the sales, Phyllis hightailed it to the Dog & Duck for a refreshing pint of bitter and a pickled egg
"Sale shopping is not just about being present in store. To make the most of your hard earned cash these days, you need to be prepared"
  • | by Ruth Dawson

The average woman today will spend around £84,000 on fashion in her lifetime. You may be wondering where this average woman could possibly store all those clothes but this is not a fast fashion spend. Shoppers have become shrewder over the past few years, not necessarily relying on low-prices but opting for quality instead.

Cutting back but staying stylish is easy, you just have to be smart about it. Follow these easy tips for bargain shopping success.

Hit the sales

Bet you never thought of that one now did you? Sarcasm aside, the most obvious way to pick up a bargain style booster is by exploring the sales. But, while most shoppers stick to the big post-Christmas and summer discount events, few realise that the majority of big High Street shops now have a permanent sale rail in store. Ok, so most of the time it might be filled with the leftovers that nobody wants but sometimes there is a gem in amongst the junk.

Sale shopping is not just about being present in store, however. To make the most of your hard earned cash these days, you need to be prepared. Now we are not suggesting some kind of Rocky-themed run around the city (unless you are off to the sales at Next which start in the early hours, in which case it might be a good idea) but rather that you make the most of modern technology. Make sure you’ve taken your smart phone along with you (providing you’ve got one) and check for extra sizes, online exclusives or even bonus discounts on the shop’s website.

Be wary of the 'best' bargains

If it seems too good to be true then it probably is. Just because you are being offered a discount on the RRP does not mean that this is a bargain. Some large multi-label chains, such as TK Maxx, offer popular names at lower prices, but even 50% off £200, for example, is still a hefty price tag. In addition, for every brand name you find in a store, there will be one that is only a good price in the context of the shop. Use your loaf and do not be taken in by clever marketing.

Watch out for designer collaborations

Designer labels are no longer just available to a fortunate few. The rise in designers working with High Street shops in recent years has made fashion a whole lot more accessible to us on an average salary. These are not just cheap knock-offs, however, but dedicated new designs. Followers of Versace will know that the label's recent duets with H&M harked back to the glory days when Gianni was at the helm of the Italian fashion house. And with Topshop's recently released JW Anderson venture, Orla Kiely’s latest for Uniqlo, and Vogue icon Anna Dello Russo's work with H&M due on October 4th, now’s a good time to join the High Street designer bandwagon.

Although it is highly publicised that these collaborations attract queues of thousands waiting overnight, that does not mean you will have to do so. This writer witnessed queues of fewer than 15 people waiting outside the smaller H&M branch in Cardiff for Versace and, just a few weeks later, pieces from the same collection were in the Regent Street flagship’s discount section…

Get more bags for your buck

The internet is not just for social networking and funny cat pictures, don't-you-know. Some of the best style bargains these days can be found at the touch of several buttons. Every High Street chain worth their salt has an online store too, most of which offer website exclusives and extended reduction dates. Signing up to newsletters or following your favourites on Facebook and Twitter can also help you find extra discount codes and early sale access.

Search for your savings...

Websites like shopstyle.co.uk, fashionhunt.co.uk and mystylesearch.com take the effort out of trawling the internet by looking through popular online shops for you. You can search by garment type, colour, price and a variety of other options to find what you are seeking at the price you want to spend. Fashion engines are best used when looking for a non-specific item, such as a white shirt or little black dress but can uncover new styles from unexpected places.

There is no shame in using good old Google to search for a discount either. Voucher code websites have become prolific in recent years, offering codes for anything from money off to free delivery. Just search for your shop name and ‘discount’ or ‘voucher’ and see what turns up.

...But be selective

Being a sensible style spender is all well and good but if you are running around grabbing everything you can, it really defeats the object of saving a few pennies. Do not just buy it because it is a bargain: trends come and go.  You may have been coveting those flatforms since January (although we shudder at the thought), but you will probably only get one or two wears out of them before they are relegated to the back of the wardrobe.