Sale shopping is, like most things in life, an art which takes practice and time to get good at. There will be ups, and there will be downs, but eventually you will get there and become a master, which in some respects, is similar to the journey of becoming a Gentleman.
What follows is a simple guide for the modern Gentleman to ensure that he can become a master at dividing the bargains from the impulse buys, and the investment pieces from the worn-once-and-discarded items.
With a little bit of hunting, you can find some classic wardrobe pieces that will last for years to come. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the first things that go into sale are usually last year’s autumn and winter stock, which is where you can find bargains for the changing season. So while you’re looking at last minute holiday outfits, you might stumble upon a piece of knitwear that’ll carry you into the autumn.
So how should one approach the art of sale shopping?
Make a List
Before you even leave the comfort of your own home, dedicate some time going through your wardrobe and writing down if there’s anything that needs replacing, or that you would like in a similar colour or style.
This way you can easily see if there’s something that you’ve been neglecting to purchase, and it’s also helpful if you find that your favourite item has seen better days and is in need of replacement. If you have an item of clothing you love, but always struggle finding something to wear it with, include this in your list too.
You now have a starting point, a list to which you should stick. Not only will it help you nurture your wardrobe to what you want it to be, but it will also stop you from buying things that you don’t need. It’ll actively make you think “Do I really need this?” which is sometimes what you need.
It’s good practice to go through your wardrobe at the beginning of each season so that you can reassess what you might need. Doing this before sale is the perfect time to do so.
You are now ready to face the sales, armed with your purpose built list. Don’t worry, you don’t need to wander round with it, but just having it on your phone or in your pocket will help it serve as the all important guide that you need.
But what might be on the list you may ask?
For workwear, smart shirts, suits and shoes are the usual discount culprits. Many brands will need to get rid of their old season stock to make way for the new, so here is where you can save money. Pick up a new navy suit, white and blue shirts, and a new pair (or two) of oxford shoes. It’s also a good chance to update your accessories such as bags, ties and pocket squares.
On the casual side, summer-weight and light coloured blazers can be found at a great price, and chinos and jeans too. If you know which styles fit, it’s the perfect chance to bulk buy so that you have something for every occasion. This can also be done with shorts. Buy one of each colourway and you’ll be set.
Tee shirts, polos and short sleeve shirts will also be on the list, just in time for holiday. While knitwear is always worth looking for, so stock up on basics such as merino wool cardigans and jumpers which are perfect for a chilly summer evening as well as a crucial layering piece for the autumn. It’s also high time to purchase new summer shoes such as canvas and suede trainers, loafers, driving and boat shoes.
So how else could one prepare?
Know Thy Market
Firstly, make sure that you do your research. Shop around and try things on. This is especially important with different brands because they all vary. Go to a department store where you can try on different brands all in one place. Once you know how they fit, you’ll find it easier to shop quickly and efficiently without having to worry about the size.
If you know an item fits, then you won’t have to try it in on store, which on a busy summer’s day, will be a lifesaver. You can even conduct this research before the sales start, so that you’re prepared for when the shops get busier.
How to Prevent Impulse Purchases
Although having a list will be of great help, sometimes it isn’t enough. Here are a few pointers on how to avoid purchasing items on a whim.
Buying in Outfits
Instead of buying something because you like it, think of buying it as part of an outfit. What will you wear it with? Do you have something at home which would go perfectly, or do you need to find something new to create an outfit for it? If you struggle to find anything to create an outfit, the likelihood is that you won’t wear it.
Weigh Up The Cost Per-Wear
Another way to shop sales sensibly is to imagine how many ‘wears’ you’ll get from a particular item of clothing. If you put that neon pink shirt into the category of wearing it once and then never again, is it really worth it? If you buy a white oxford shirt, however, you’ll be able to wear it from work to a restaurant, to a night out. It’s easy to see where you’ll save the most.
Give Time to Developing Your Style
A Gentleman should have a good understanding of what clothes he likes and dislikes. Whether it’s something simple like a preference for crew-neck over a v-neck tee shirt, or something more particular such as a single or double vented jacket. This also works for what he knows he’ll wear regularly, and what he won’t wear as much. It’s all a learning process, but the more time you give to it, the more quickly you will learn.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things
Once comfortable with your style and you have built a wardrobe of well-fitting clothes, don’t be afraid to incorporate something new. As long as you pair it with classic well-fitting pieces you shouldn’t have a problem. Sale is a great time to do this because you can try new things without breaking the bank.
Remember, the key to quality clothing is good fit and wearable colours. You should feel confident and comfortable in your clothes, and this will help you take one step closer to becoming the Perfect Gentleman.