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Brand and shopping advice

The no-regret guide to sale shopping

The no-regret guide to sale shopping

In his 2004 book, The Paradox of ChoiceWhy More Is Less, the American psychologist Barry Schwartz argued that an abundance of choice led to anxiety in consumers. It’s the cereal aisle scenario; when we’re faced with an overwhelming number of options, making a decision can feel impossible.

Now apply that to sales. Not only do you have to contend with choice, but you’ve got the pressure of scarcity too. It’s enough to make anyone bow out of shopping altogether. “I recommend making a list of things that you actually need, and referring to that throughout,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald.

Luke also warns of novelty items or showpieces that were put into collections by designers. These tend to be heavily marked down, so they’re tempting, but they won’t end up being very practical in your everyday life. His advice? Focus on a few key categories. “This is a really good time to stock up on a better quality of basics. Think grey or navy jumpers, accessories like belts, shoes, and wallets. And look for classic styles that won’t go out of fashion.”

The only caveat is that it’s probably not worth buying items that are cheap anyway, like jersey. Instead, go for elevated basics such as a superior quality of cotton t-shirt or a wool jumper. On that note, most heritage brands are known for a specific product that is their staple, and sales are a perfect time to shop them. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a Burberry trench, how about a Sunspel tee or a Barbour jacket?

Another handy tip is to think of what you would normally spend on a certain item, and then still spend the same sum but on a reduced product. So for instance, using your £200 shoe budget on a pair of half price £400 shoes will get you far more bang for your buck.

Speaking of discounts, use them to guide your judgement. If you’re on the fence about an item and it’s only 10 or 20 per cent off, it’s probably not worth the punt. If it's half price, the risk's less risky. In a similar vein, if something isn’t the right size — no matter the discount — it’s not worth it. This applies across the board, but especially so with footwear (your feet aren’t going to shrink and wearing insoles isn’t ideal). The only exceptions are clothes that can be easily altered, but even then you need to factor in the cost and effort of alterations with the perceived benefit of the discount.

Finally, Luke’s parting shot is: be prepared. Do you remember spotting anything you liked while you were out Christmas shopping, but couldn’t afford? Look for those pieces. Chances are, if you liked it full price, you’ll like it even better reduced.

Shop your Thread sale

Words: Theresa Harold
Illustration: Elliot Kruszynski