Marissa Woods, Time Out’s favourite image consultant, puts her sensible hat on and tells us how to control herself among all those juicy bargains.
1. What do you need? Before you leave the house, look through your wardrobe and make a mental note of what you need (eg a fitted jacket to go with most of the trousers you own).
2. What is your budget? Think about how much you want to spend. Knowing you’ve only got Dhs300 before you hit the shops will help you sort through the sales rails quicker, and stop you from spending money you don’t have.
3. Know your limits. Know what cuts and fabrics work for you: if you’re curvy, don’t squeeze yourself into an unflattering pencil skirt. Use the three-way mirror, no matter how painful, to get an honest look at your rear and side views; then walk, sit and bend in the clothes to check for comfort. Never buy anything that doesn’t fit perfectly (even if you’d like to think you will alter your body size in the future). The only exceptions are trousers/skirts that can be easily altered for length at the hem.’
4. Pace yourself. If you’re there to hunt for the perfect outfit, it will take time, so don’t expend all your energy and enthusiasm in the first shop (and make sure you wear easy on/off clothes!). However, if you’ve chosen your item on a previous spree, call ahead and ask a sales assistant to set it aside – you’ll be amazed how much time this saves.’
5. Go solo. Shop alone. If you really need a second opinion, put the item on hold and bring back someone you trust to give you honest advice.
6. Suits you? Select clothes according to your stylistic preferences, whether they’re romantic or tailored: jumping into a new style for the sake of a big saving will never feel comfortable, and it will result in the garment being relegated to the back of your wardrobe before it’s even been worn.
7. Take care. ‘Check the care tags inside the garment – and, if you really hate dry cleaning, do this while browsing instead of in the fitting room.
8. Shady lights. Under a fitting room’s unnatural lighting, certain colours can appear a different shade, so try to take the item to a natural light source if possible.
9. Forget labels. A coveted label does not necessarily mean the goods are nice – even designers make mistakes! I’ve seen many goods being brought out year after year just for the sales rack in the hope that someone with no savvy will end up buying them!
10. Clothes are investments. Think carefully about whether the price makes it a worthy investment. Professional stylists call this a ‘cost per wear’ calculation: work out how often you will actually wear the garment and divide it by the total cost to get your return on investment – then you know if you should make the purchase. Face facts: it’s not a bargain – even at 99 per cent off – unless you actually have some way to work it into your existing wardrobe.