How to shop the Boxing Day and January Sales sustainably
Hi, friends! I hope you’ve had a good festive season (well, as good as 2020 could allow!) and that you’re finding some joy in these crazy times.
Speaking of crazy times, we’re entering the Boxing Day- January sales period. It’ll definitely hit different this year with no physical shopping happening in the UK anytime soon, but chances are you’ve faced a barrage of sales emails as brands try to entice you online.
The fashion industry goes hard on the ‘new year, new me’ sentiment, pushing new clothes as the solution to all your woes. A few years ago I would have been all over that. I’m ashamed to admit that there’s been times in the past I was perusing clothes websites for the best deals on CHRISTMAS DAY so I could snap up the fast fashion ‘bargains’ ahead of anyone else.
Ultimately, I totally bought into that feeling of ‘lack’ that fast fashion so insidiously instills in us. If I could just buy that new outfit, and purchase as many clothes as possible for my budget, then I’d feel good about myself. There were so many pieces of the years that were ‘too good a deal to let pass me by’ that I can’t even remember, let alone still own.
How many of those ‘bargain’ sales buys of yours over the years have languished in your wardrobe, tags still on? Or maybe, if they’re lucky, are worn once, then swiftly abandoned for something else? If you’re anything like me, that number is higher than we’d like to admit.
And we’re not alone. According to our pals at the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP), UK consumers have around £30 billion worth of clothes which they haven’t worn for a year hanging in their wardrobes, with a third of all of the clothes we buy ending up in landfill.
As a stylist focused on ethical and sustainable fashion, it’s my mission to help everyone escape the trap of buying clothes we don’t actually like or need (despite the fashion industry’s attempts to make us feel otherwise!). I want to show you how buying better and buying less is totally revolutionary for your style.
But let’s face it: we as human beings love saving money. And in fact, buying clothes in the sale is a brilliant strategy for building a conscious and considered wardrobe. So how can you use the Boxing Day and January sales season to your advantage? I’ve learned a thing or two about how to navigate sales like a pro, so not only will you secure the best deals, but you’ll actually end up with clothes you want to wear. Sounds good, no?
How to shop sales sustainably
Audit your wardrobe
How can you know what to buy if you don’t know what you already have? It’s human instinct to be drawn to things we already know we like, but if you find yourself lusting after a red party dress on sale when you already have three similar styles in your wardrobe, it’s unlikely to be a good purchase.
Consider the January sales as an opportunity to save money on the wardrobe essentials you’re missing, rather than a chance to go wild on cheap clothes you may or may not wear. Conducting a wardrobe audit is the best way to figure out what these missing essentials are.
For example, is there a pair of trousers you have that you love but rarely wear because you don’t have the right tops to go with them? Well, now is the time to focus your sales shopping on finding the perfect tops! Not only will you have affordably bought something your wardrobe has been crying out for, but you’ll also have ready-to-go outfits that you’ll actually wear.
Often we struggle to identify ourselves what our wardrobes are missing, which is why working with a stylist is so valuable. If that sounds like you then I’m currently taking bookings for 2021, starting from £60!
Avoid trendy styles
I’m not saying you can’t shop for exciting or stylish pieces – clothes should be fun, after all! But if you find yourself tempted to snap up something that’s very on trend just now, your sale purchase will likely be relegated to the charity shop pile after only a couple of wears.
So how can you tell if something is trend-led? First of all, if a style is available on every clothes website you look on (for example a stripey midi dress) then chances are it’s a trend piece. Equally if this is a style you keep coming across on Instagram.
Stepping off the trends treadmill is hard, and you don’t have to swear off in-fashion clothing come hell or high water. But it is hugely useful to both your bank balance and personal style to become more circumspect with what you’re buying. If there’s a style you genuinely feels suits you and you’ll want to wear for a long time, then you should invest in it, trendy or not. For example, if I find great high-waisted trousers then I’ve got to buy them, and I know I’ll keep wearing them even when this silhouette is less popular. But that one novelty piece everyone has been obsessed with the past six months? Probably best to give it a miss.
Be strict about fit and quality
How many times have you tried something on and felt it wasn’t quite perfect, but you’d keep it anyway because it was cheap? If you don’t love it, don’t keep it – regardless of how much of a ‘bargain’ it was. These ‘not quite right but they’ll do’ pieces are the reason our charity shops are fit to burst with donations, so fighting against sales psychology to buy clothes merely because they are discounted is one of the best things you can do to fight textile waste.
Here’s what you need to consider. Does the garment fit you well? Is it too tight/ doesn’t nip in at the right places/ feel uncomfortable etc? And what’s the quality like? Will this piece bobble in a month’s time? Is the fabric well-made, thick, and flattering? How is the garment made? Will it last more than a season? Once you start asking these questions, you’ll be amazed how quickly the sparkle fades on clothes you thought you were obsessed with.
Unfortunately, several fast fashion brands have been exposed as binning their customer returns as it’s cheaper than re-processing them for resale, so if you’re unsure about whether to purchase something from a super cheap clothes company, often it’s better to avoid altogether.
Shop from ethical brands
If you feel that ethical clothing is too expensive, then sales are the time for you to shop with the brands you’ve been longing to support. Often the sale prices from ethical brands brings them in line with High Street fashion, making them more accessible. Plus, in the name of sustainability these clothes will be designed to transcend seasons, rather than be heavily trend-led.
Some of my favourite ethical brands put on incredible January sales. Some stylish ethical clothing websites I recommend checking out for great discounts include People Tree, Thought, Ninety Percent, Lucy and Yak, and Les Girls Les Boys.
If you want to shop with more ethical fashion brands but you’re not sure where to start, then my online personal shopping service is perfect for you! I do the hard work by checking a brand’s ethics and sustainability credentials, then handpick items best suited to your style, as well as provide a moodboard to inspire future purchases. With so many of these great conscious clothing companies offering discounts right now, there’s never been a better time to meet the ethical brands of your style dreams!
Roll over your budget to the new season
My final tip about sales shopping is… not to shop at all! If you genuinely aren’t in the market for any new clothes, then there’s no real need to shop. Instead, put that money aside for when there is something you’d like to buy.
For example, if you know your wardrobe would benefit most from new summer clothes, then there’s not much point buying autumn/ winter items in the sale. Instead, you can save that money for the new season. So if you’d usually spend around £100 on clothes in the sales, then put that £100 into a savings account. Then when brands start stocking more summery pieces, you already have a £100 budget to put towards it. It’ll feel like you’re saving money, but on clothes you actually need.
Those are my tips for taking a more conscious approach to sales shopping, so you can buy clothes sustainably into the new year.
For more style tips, sustainable fashion advice, and outfit inspiration, be sure to follow me on Instagram – @styledbyalicex