Smarter Sales Shopping

June 6, 2012

Smarter Sales Shopping

Everyone loves a good deal, but sometimes I wonder if men might not be better off if they weren’t allowed to shop in sale sections. On the one hand, men who are otherwise very careful with their money can lose all restraint at the sight of a good bargain. On the other hand, a good wardrobe is very expensive, and saving thirty to seventy percent on that expense is nothing to scoff at.

There are better and worse ways to approach sales, however, and the difference between them is a wardrobe that’s strong and versatile and another that’s incoherent and filled with nothing you actually want to wear. To get the first, I’d suggest the following

  • Go through this thought process when considering whether you actually want to make a purchase. Remember to prioritize fit over style, style over construction, and brand names least of all. Doing so will help minimize the chance you’ll wind up with buyer’s regret.
  • Keep an updated “wish list” of the things you want. Consider what’s actually needed and how to maximize versatility. You want to build a wardrobe, not just a collection of clothing. Use this list to direct your shopping and try not to deviate. 
  • Ignore original prices. A dramatic reduction can make you think the sale price, which may still be quite high, is a better deal that it is. Don’t concern yourself with whether the item was originally $1,000; ask yourself whether you want to pay what it costs now.
  • If you’re shopping in a brick and mortar environment, be aware that the sales staff is probably trying to pressure you into making a purchase. There might only be one item of its kind left in the store, but you’re still allowed to think it over. Give it a few days, if you can, or at least step outside for a moment’s thinking. If you’re shopping online, call customer service and ask how many are left in inventory. If there are quite a few, give yourself a day or two. You might be surprised to find that a few days later, you’re much less interested in the item.
  • Try to figure out what you want before the sale. Most sales, such as those at Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren, happen at the same time every year. Drop by their store the week before and figure out what you want. That way you can give yourself some time and not be pressured into an impulsive purchase. Note that many sales associates are often happy to hold things for you until the sale starts (up to a week anyway), so visiting early pays off in other ways as well. 
  • Once bought, never cut the tags off until you’re ready to wear the item out. You may find that two weeks later, when the high of bargain shopping has worn off, the once perfect shirt or sweater has lost its luster, and you want to return the item. Give yourself that option.
  • Finally, remember that you’re shopping for clothes, not bargains. Some things never go on sale, and if you’re considering such an item, and it can be more fruitful to pay full retail for something you truly need than shop in the bargain bins for things that happened to have made it to sale. At the same time, don’t get too caught up on any one particular item. If you’re clothing enthusiast, you’ll be buying clothes for years to come. In that time, you’ll see hundreds of handsome items and an equal number of good deals. Buy the right things at the right prices. If you don’t get something this time, there will be many other deals in the future. 

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