It’s getting to be that time of the year again, when your inbox starts to burst with sample sale invitations to the point that it can be be a little overwhelming. But have no fear, we’ve asked some of the savviest shoppers around (who also happen to be our favorite fashion publicists, stylists, and editors) to give us their expert advice on finding the deals, what to wear, and knowing when to slowly walk away from the temptation.
Fashion Stylist and Editor
THE ADVICE: Only buy items that you really need in your wardrobe. Try not to get tempted by something if you truly do not need it. Trust me, you’ll never wear it.
BEST BUY: The best deal I ever got was a pair of Helmut Lang tuxedo shoes I had for ten years. A tuxedo shoe is something you really need and use all the time and I got it for sample sale price!
THE ADVICE: Know the brand and always arrive early! It will help you focus and strategize in the midst of any overwhelming sample sale. If you know the product, you can determine the season(s) that will likely be at the sale. That way, you can steer clear of other distractions and get in and out quicker.
Fashion News Editor, Luckymag.com
THE ADVICE: If a sale is continuing on for several days and you love the merchandise, make several visits! Prices may be slashed towards the end — plus you might end up spotting pieces that you missed the first time around.
BEST BUY: My favorite sample sale score was a beautiful flared Gryphon trench I “visited” a whopping three times before finally caving. I wound up getting it for almost $100 less than it was originally priced at the sale — and for about $600 less than it retailed! And with the staggering number of times I’ve worn it, that coat’s paid for itself.
Assistant Stylist, Gilt Groupe
THE ADVICE: Wear a neutral tank top and bike shorts or leggings under your clothes so you can try things on in front of people.
BEST BUY: One of the best deals I’ve scored was an Alexander Wang army vest, which I got for $40 at their sample sale about a year ago.
Assistant Fashion Editor, Elle
THE ADVICE: Discuss what your goals are with a sample sale buddy before you go! Always go with a friend. Then, divide and conquer: one person hit RTW and the other accessories. Also, always pull more than you expect to purchase — if you don’t like something, you can always put it back.
Newspaper Editor and Co-Founder, SampleSaleStakeout.com
1. If you can, go during off hours. Try 11am (if the sale started at 9) or 5 (if it closes at 7). You avoid the risk of getting smacked in the face with a sample Botkier bag or fighting for the mirror in your skivvies!
2. Dress appropriately. The idea is to get in, score, and get out. Don’t wear a button down shirt or tights — you’ll be left stuffing buttons in holes while the girl next to you swipes up that last leather DVF mini skirt!
2. Finally, check Sample Sale Stakeout before you go! We hit early to provide shoppers with enough info to help them determine if it’s worth their time. Do you have to check your bag? Can you try on? Cash only? Bigger sizes? Deep enough discounts? Know before you go by checking with us!
BEST BUY: Best deal is a toughie — the majority of my closet is sample sale finds. Off the top of my head, I have to go with a pair of fringe leather Botkier booties that were $40! There was one pair left in my size and the original price was upwards of $400. I wore them to death and get compliments all the time.
THE ADVICE: If you didn’t want it when it was full price, don’t take it home! Sample sales can get stressful, try and edit your buys to things you really love in order to avoid filling your closet with random cheap finds.
Digital Media Manager, Williamson PR
THE ADVICE: My top sample sale shopping tip is to have patience and to be aggressive. The lines for top sample sales are usually long but once you get inside, beeline for what you want. Sample sales offer a limited number of pieces in a few sizes so chances are someone else is eyeing the same pieces you are. If you don’t get to it first, someone else will.
BEST BUY: The best deal I ever scored was back in 2008 at the Marc Jacobs sample sale. I bought this amazing turquoise jewel-toned handbag with chained straps at like 60% off. I still have it in my closet it and wear it when I need to add a pop of color to any outfit.
Public Relations, Chanel
THE ADVICE Always wear leggings. Always wear a white tank top. And always come ready to undress in front of girls you wish you looked like.
Senior Fashion Credits Editor, Lucky
1. Go early if you can. Try to be one of the first few shoppers. This is when you can snag gorgeous one of a kind samples or treasures in the bargain bins.
2. Go the last day if you can. Most designers reduce prices by up to half on the last day. You might not have wanted to spend $100 for that pleated skirt but for $50 that same skirt is coming home with you.
3. After you’ve done your first round through the racks, go through them a second time if you can. You might see something that you’ve missed.
4. Join the Facebook and Twitter pages of the brands that you like. They usually alert their followers of any upcoming sales.
BEST BUY: A few years back, I attended a Hayden Harnett sample sale and was the third person there. They had $1 bargain bins and I headed straight for them. I was able to snag 30 samples (including leather coats) at $1 each. Can you imagine that…30 items for $30!!! Unbelievable!