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How to Beat the Sale Rail

Amy Wells gives her tips on how to face the dreaded sale rails

Hate the sale rail? You’re not the only one. With it sometimes resembling a jumble sale of sizes that don’t fit you and colours you’d never wear, it’s easy to understand why people don’t feel they’ll have any success with it. But I’m here to tell you you don’t have to spend hours sorting through it, and share some tips for finding some bargain buys of your own.


First, you don’t have to pick up and dissect every item in what’s often a crammed rail of clothes. Get both hands stuck in there, and just swipe those hangers across like there’s no tomorrow, only stopping for something that really catches your eye. Whether it has a bit of sparkle, a pop of colour, or a detail you love, take a closer look. The key here is not to get caught up looking at everything, because not only is it overwhelming, you’ll end up seeing a top that’s £3, and buy the top just because it’s £3, not because you love it. So don’t look at the price on something until you’ve decided you like it, and then decide if it’s worth that. This bodysuit made me look again because of the colour, I’m not one to go to uni in something monotone, and when I picked it up, not only was it my size but since it was the last one it was reduced from £15.99 to £1!


So, let’s assume it’s not a £1 item, how do you avoid buying something overpriced? Go shopping. A lot. You don’t have to buy loads of clothes (although it’s tempting), but think of it as market research. On the high street, clothes across different brands are often pretty similar to each other, and if you can get it for cheaper without sacrificing the quality, why wouldn’t you? But the only way to know if you’re getting something at a good price is if you know what other prices are like. Before you know it you’ll start looking price tags knowing you can get something for better value somewhere else, or when it inevitably goes on sale, which makes it easy to walk away, no matter how much you like something. I’ve wanted a big fluffy winter coat for a long time, but since I just bought a coat at the start of the season, I couldn’t justify it, especially for £30-£40. But the January sales came to save me, and since it’s still so cold out, I still had plenty of time to wear it, and for £10, I’ve already got my money’s worth.


Charity shops are your friend. If you’re still imagining them as dirty secondhand places full of old lady clothes, it’s time to rethink (but isn’t vintage in style anyway?). The skirt pictured here cost me £4 from the British Heart Foundation, originally from River Island. It’s a perfectly balanced item that can be dressed up to look professional- I wore this outfit to a job interview that day- but it can also be paired more casually for a day at uni.


Make sure to ask if they do student discount! Some places don’t have it obviously advertised, but there’s no harm in asking, chances are you’ll be more successful than you expect. And sign up to rewards programmes, at least in the places you shop the most. H&M club gives you exclusive offers and free delivery, so you can take advantage of every sale without having to fork out that extra £4.


So get out there, and get those bargains! It’ll give you the boost you need to get through these chilly York days


Photography: Emily Palframan 




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