Top of the shops (part 1)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

So I know the prices are going up at an alarming rate (oh hello cotton tee-shirt, what's that? £45 you say? Bye then."), and it is probably the number one retail haunt for every other person in the UK who wears clothes, but Topshop really is one of my favourite stores. Ok, maybe I should be more adventurous and shop more in vintage shops, or markets or charity shops or quirky boutiques or just make my clothes out of stuff I find lying around the house, like bin bags and sponges, but quite frankly I haven't got time for all that and anyway, you mad little spaniel, sponges are unhygienic. But, you see, with Topshop, there is always something in there that I want to buy. Always. I suppose this is partly because the one in Liverpool is now so frighteningly massive that there has to something amongst the endless number of jeans and tops and spangly pieces of nylon and jersey dresses and fancy shoes and embellished blazers and magical, whimsical, cheeky little trinkets that I want to by. It's just simple maths really. But you know what else is simple maths? That fact that I'm just a poor boy girl from a poor family and try as I might, I can't get the Topshop staff to give me stuff for free. So I only ever go in there if I've just been paid or there's a sale on.

Fortunately for me, Topshop just had a ma-HOO-sive sale so I managed to buy quite a few little lovelies without having to sell my little sister into slavery to be able to afford them. (not that I'd ever do that...)

Here's what I bought;

A really big ring!

These earrings that look like the wings of a fly! (In a nice way, not in a dirty, disease-spreading way)

This top - nude and purple and polka dots and a big bow all in one?! Yeah, I know, this is the best thing ever.

[NB Every time I post pictures of myself on here, I seem to have straightened my hair. I fear that I'm going to get into trouble with the trading standards people for false advertising. Honestly, I promise, I am a little curly girl most of the time!]

I also bought some purple tights, but you don't need to see a picture of them, they're just tights that are purple.

And all this cost me less than £20! Sale joy! Yesssss!

I realised that the eternal student inside me will always go straight to the sale section of a store first, because, well why wouldn't you? Sales are so frequent nowadays, that it only takes a few weeks for an item to go from full price to having a big red sticker on the label saying "50% off" (oh how I love those red circles). Some people hate sales, because they're messy and sometimes it's just lots of crap that nobody wanted, hence the reason why it now costs 20p, but if you have patience, you can find some marvellous stuff for a fraction of the price. And there really is nothing better than finding something you love and it only costing you a few quid.

So, with all this in mind, I thought I'd put together a guide of how to do the sales properly. Most of it's probably quite obvious, but hopefully some of it might come in useful.

The little curly girl's guide to surviving and succeeding in the sales.


Once you know you're going to the sales, you must make a few decisions beforehand;

- What will you wear? Once you get into full-scale sale madness, things get hot. And then you feel mighty silly for wearing your favourite ski suit don't you? So think comfortable, lightweight and also, easy to change in and out of quickly. If you're going to be trying loads of stuff on, you really don't need to be wearing clothes with lots of buttons or shoes with lots of laces etc. Also, it's worth wearing nice underwear, because firstly, the stuff you try on generally looks better if you're wearing a well-fitting bra and good pants and secondly, there is nothing more depressing than seeing yourself in the changing room mirror, which is unflattering at the best of times, wearing old, mismatching undies. We've all been there.

- How much are you going to spend? Yes, everything is much cheaper than usual, but it's still easy to get carried away. Set yourself a limit and unless you find something that is literally going to change your life forever, do not go over it.

- Is there something specific you want to buy? If you're looking to buy something in particular, for example a coat or a dress, it's worth looking on the website first, to see what's available, that way, you know exactly what you're looking for when you go in. I bought my current coat in the Oxford Street Topshop in January - the sale was INSANE but because I already knew what I wanted, it was much easier to find. Even if you're just going in for a browse, it can be a good idea to have a think beforehand about what you want/need in your wardrobe, otherwise, when you get there, it can be a bit overwhelming and you end up either buying stuff you've already got or leaving with nothing.

The scary part.

- So you've arrived at the sale. There is a sea of frantic women grabbing at garments while dead-eyed sales assistants rush around attempting to tidy. DON'T PANIC! Yes it's mad, yes it's messy, but there are wonders to be found. Be systematic. If there are lots of rails, start at one end and work your way through. The key to sale shopping is patience. If you look properly, you will find something fab. If you rush in, randomly grab stuff from the rails and get frustrated, you will find nothing. That's just how it works.

- When you do find something you like, DO NOT TRUST THE SIZE ON THE HANGER! Always check the label, because quite often, things are put onto the wrong hangers. There is nothing more irritating than getting into the changing rooms, or even worse, getting home, and finding that the lovely size 12 skinnies you found, are actually a size 6. (This is even worse when you don't realise that they're the wrong size until you've actually tried to put them on - "Oh God, how do they not fit? They're a 12! I can't get them past my thighs! Oh this is terrible, how can I be this fat? No... wait they're a size 6. For f*** sake..." and by that point you're so traumatised, you just want to go home and cry)

- Try stuff on. I know some people prefer to just buy things, try them on at home and then take them back if they don't fit, but that to me is more of a hassle than spending a bit of time in the changing room queue. Plus, it's easy to forget to return something and then you end up with a load of stuff you never wear, which is a waste of money. So try before you buy!

- If the shop sells everything, ie clothes, shoes and jewellery, go through the clothes first, try on what you like, then go back and look at the shoes and jewellery. You're not usually allowed to take accessories into the changing rooms because apparently, if alone in a cubicle with a pair of earrings, we all feel the urge to get a bit stealy. You may as well whittle down which clothes you want to buy from the massive pile you've probably accumulated, free up some arm space, then go and decide on accessories.

- Check the things you're going to buy for rips/stains etc. With so much stuff ending up on the floor during a sale, things can get damaged, so save yourself from the disappointment of getting home and finding that the white blazer you just bought has a footprint on the back. Also, if something does have a bit of damage, but it's not very noticeable or easily fixed, you can always ask if the manager will give you some more money off; I know someone who bought an H&M denim jacket for 50p once because it was covered in biro, she washed it and it was as good as new!

Behavioural check.

- Having worked in the Next sale several times when I was younger, experiencing first-hand the trauma of rabid, bargain-hungry women, I know just how soul-destroying it is to spend ages tidying a rail only to turn around and find someone carelessly dragging all the clothes out of it and chucking them about. Yes the sales are always untidy, but you don't have to contribute to the mess! If you drop something on the floor, pick it up! And if you see a sales assistant tidying a rail, don't stand next to her messing up all her tidying! Obviously you can look through the rails, that's what they're there for, you just don't have to act completely mental while you do so.

- Sale rails are quite narrowly packed together, so it can be easy to bump into people while you're trying to manoeuvre amongst them, but if you do, say sorry! And if someone bumps into you, don't get all irrationally angry, it was probably just an accident. Sales can be stressful, but honey, if you can't handle the heat, get out of Topshop - you're ruining it for the rest of us.

- If someone picks something up that you saw first, no matter how lovely it is, you can't fight with them. You just can't. Have a look around for the same garment and if you can't see it, keep an eye on the person - they may put it down again. Ultimately though, it's just a piece of clothing, don't act as though you're life depended on you owning a sequined playsuit because that's just tragic, isn't it?

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