Let me just start by saying the sales and I aren’t exactly bff’s. The stores are way too crowded with women who are shopping like the world is about to end -forget the 21/12 yo, that’s the real apocalypse right there- and their husbands/boyfriends that shuffle behind them with a look on their face that expresses how excited they are to be sharing this wonderful experience with the wifey/gf *cough*. Oh and I almost forgot about the whining kids and strollers that are parked right in the middle of the isle or continuously bumping into you. Instead of a sorry, you get a dirty ‘get out of the way’ look. Some people are just plain rude. This one time at
band camp Zara I even saw two women fighting over who had seen the jumper first. Not kidding.
Second, there’s the store lay-out that looks like it has been bombed by terrorists. I really feel sorry for the sales people who do nothing but fold clothing all day long only to find that same pile totally destroyed 10 seconds after they have started on the next. Sometimes I just want to pat them on the back and say “don’t worry, it’ll all be over soon” when I can see they’re so close to saying f*ck all of this! I share their pain because I have no clue where to even begin digging into this giant anarchy of clothes.
More than often I return home with nothing more than stuff from the new collection. However this season has brought me my largest sales catch to date and the sales aren’t even over yet. I’ll show you the loot at the end of the month but for now I’d like to share some of my tips on how you can survive the sales.
When to shop
The Belgian sales officially start on the 3rd of January (Fall/Winter) and the 1st of July (Spring/Summer). Both last throughout the month. But online you can start scoring some pretty good deals up to 2 weeks before the official sales. Some of my favorite sites include ASOS, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa, COS and Topshop. These will also offer bigger discounts and drop their prices faster. Plus, you don’t have to deal with crazy people.
Some shops might also send an invitation for their private sales to their customers. These sales are not announced in the store windows, but you can recognize them by markings or stickers on the price tags. Anyone can profit from these, even if you’re not a regular customer. You only need to ask the sales personnel which discount goes with each colour. Some of my favorite brands that do this are Sandro, Maje and Essentiel.
Another thing is tying; where the discount is only deductible if you buy 2 or more pieces. I don’t usually go for that ‘deal’ if I only have one piece I really want, I’d rather wait a couple of days. That, or you can always buy something cheap like socks to get the discount.
The actual sales period is usually divided into 3 parts:
- first week: discounts vary from -10% til – 30%, a bit low but the chances are pretty big the items you want are still available in your size. Go for a first screening: check out what they have and how many pieces they have to make an estimation: what will you take home and what can wait another week? Grab the pieces you absolutely need (and the ones that are certain to haunt you in your dreams if you don’t manage to get them).
- 2nd week: discounts vary from -40% til -50%, the deals are starting to get real but the chances of scoring that one special piece are decreasing. Half the price is a pretty good deal to me, it’s perfect to score those pieces you had to leave behind during the first round.
- 3rd – 4th week: discounts vary from -60% til -80%, best deals but there’s not that much left to choose from. Ideal if you have an uncommon size.
Only go on the first day of the sales if it’s a regular weekday. A lot of people will take a day off, but still it won’t be as crowded as during the weekends. If you choose to go on the first day that also happens to be a Saturday, you will hate the sales forever and ever. The mornings are the least crowded. Also keep in mind that a lot of stores are open earlier and stay open longer during the first days.
Where to shop
Avoid the big crowd during the first couple of days and go for smaller cities first. After the first week when the biggest craze is over you can visit the big ones (Antwerp or Brussels). If you want to avoid all of the fuss, just sit back and engage in some online shopping. Another option is to go sales shopping in another country. They often have bigger markdowns (remember my huge catch in Gran Canaria). You don’t necessarily have to take the plane; cities like London, Paris, Lille and Maastricht are a couple of cities that are worth the trip. Keep in mind that the sales period might differ.
What to prepare
Preparation is everything if you’re planning on going sales shopping! Before you go make a list of the shops you want to visit and the items you definitely want to get (check out the website).Visiting the stores right before the sales so you know what lies where is also recommended. Take a look into your closet and find out what you really need and which pieces are still missing. That way you’ll also have an idea whether the items will match with your new purchase..or not.
Sales shopping takes a lot of energy; be sure to prepare a bottle of water and and a quick bite in your messenger bag. After all, you’ll need both of your hands. Bring a friend. It’s always good to get a second opinion when you’re in doubt to avoid buying things you’re never going to wear. Too many people might slow you down.
What to wear
Dress light even when it’s cold. When you’re in a hurry, the fitting room can quickly turn into a sauna. Also, the less layers you have to take off, the faster you can try on things. Especially when there’s a queue all the way throughout the store. I usually wear a skirt, boots (nothing with laces or heels) and a tanktop underneath my sweater, so I can avoid waiting in line and just quickly try on some things in between the racks. Strategic outfit ftw!
What to shop
Go for basics that will last you a long time like a leather jacket, a little black dress, a perfectly fitting skinny jean, a blazer etc. The sales period is the perfect time to score some designer pieces, so be sure to leave the main shopping street and hunt for the little independent stores as well! Wait to buy trend pieces until the prices have dropped 60% or try to anticipate for the next season. Always check the items for defaults like holes, make-up traces or missing buttons. If you can fix them, ask for an additional discount when you get to the register.In the end it’s important to be critical on choosing what you take home. Don’t be tempted by the discount. If you won’t wear it, it’s a waste of money. Also beauty stuff can be purchased at great bargain prices. Look for discontinued products, perfume sets and special holiday editions in your local perfumery or drug store.
That’s it for now, I’m all out. Good luck at getting all the stuff you want! Let me know what you got, ‘kay?
Pics courtesy of ‘GossipGirl’ and ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’.
An extra tip for my Belgian readers: Kan je maar niet genoeg krijgen van de solden? Voor extra kortingen kun je beroep doen op solden.be, een website die gespecialiseerd is in het verzamelen van kortingscodes voor webshops als Famousbox, Ici Paris XL, Brandos en Thomas Cook. Via een nieuwsbrief kun je je aanmelden om zo op de hoogte te blijven van de nieuwste kortingsacties. vb Momenteel kan je er een kortingscode voor Zalando vinden, een leuke webshop waar ik eerder al over schreef.