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sale spy: mastering the mid-season sales

{Editor’s Note: Every year, mid-October rolls around, the fall sales begin, and I’m in a retail panic. Friends & Family is always first…should I go for it, or wait for the first round of markdowns? Is it too soon to be thinking about holiday buys? But this year, I have a secret weapon: SMC’s own Sale Spy, here to lend her expertise to the best sale season of the year!}

Sale Spy’s picks: Painted Ikat dress, Anthropologie, $80 from $158 / Woven silk pencil skirt, Valentino, $239 from $795 / Sandwashed silk tee, J.Crew, $35 from $110

Roxanna K.K. ~ Friends, it’s my favourite time of year: the mid-season sales! (wait – do I say that every sale season? Well, I heartily mean it every sale season. I am always envisioning the unlimited sale possibilities…)

Anyway, I really do love mid-season sales. Now, for a sale devotee, you’d think I’d go crazy for the hard-core post end-of-season sales in January and February, and while I do love finding some crazy bargains at that time, the October/November sales offer so much more possibility. Here’s why:

The selection. At this point, stores have only gone through 1 or 2 rotations of fall merchandise (they typically change every 6-8 weeks,) so there are still plenty of sizes and colours in stock.

The season. You can actually buy something now and wear it from tomorrow to the end of the season. No hoarding clothes for next year or trying to squeeze in the last few wears before the season ends, as I am wont to do after end-of-season season clearance sales.

The trends. This is most important in my book. At the beginning of fall, there are so many trends to shop but you have no idea which will actually last through the season and beyond. At the mid-season sales, you’ve had a chance to see what sticks, and can now pick it up for a significant discount. For example, it’s worth splurging on silk blouses, leather details and colour with a capital C (especially fall staples like oxblood and mustard). However, neon, crazy prints and peplums, while still around, won’t have the same lifespan.

Some tips on shopping these sales:

+ Hang on to those receipts! Many big name stores will reduce merchandise initially and then have an additional markdown on sale merchandise a few weeks later. I get the merchandise at the first markdown for the best selection, but I will then get a price adjustment or buy it again if it is further reduced, returning the original item. This year alone I have saved hundreds of dollars this way (don’t ask how much I’ve spent!)

+ If you had your heart set on specific mid-priced items that are now on sale, go ahead and buy them instead of waiting for them to be reduced further (a lot of merchandise disappears from now until Christmas.) On the other hand, if there are more expensive pieces you have in mind but haven’t found exactly the right one yet, hold off buying them at these sales. There will still be two more rotations of merchandise and much steeper discounts heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas.

+ Investment items like jewelry, bags and fragrances may go on sale closer to the holiday season because they are good gift-giving items, so hold off on these for now as well.

Good luck, and happy sale-hunting!

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