I’ve been shopping a lot lately. Occupational hazard. Also, I really really like it. Today, while visiting my in-laws in Illinois, I blazed a trail through the entire Cherryvale Mall, husband in tow, on a mission to check a few items off my back to school shopping lists. And, if I happened to stumble upon a summer sale, well, that couldn’t be helped.
Summer sales can be like the season itself, fleeting and crowded and, sadly, a little overrated. The key to mastering the art of the summer sale (or, for that matter, any sale) is to be prepared. As the Bible says, you will be tempted, but not beyond what you can bear. I’m paraphrasing here, but I am pretty sure they were referring to sales. But maybe not a sale on Kate Spade, or Ted Baker, which completely undo any of my attempts at self control. We all have our limits.
Anyway, the point is, you can’t just meander into a sale and hope for the best. You will emerge with a flat wallet and oodles of regrets. One of these regrets will be an impossibly small bathing suit that you would never have thought of buying at full price, but which suddenly looks irresistible, and almost wearable, at 75% off. Not that I am speaking from experience of anything…
Don’t let summer’s carefree mood make its way into your summer sale shopping, lest you hobble home with bags of unwearables that you will stash away until next summer, when the kids are a year older and you will finally lounge, yes lounge, by the pool, fruity drink in hand. That day is not coming, and if it does, you will probably still never wear that bathing suit/coverup/maxi dress.
Summer sales, like most buying opportunities, favor the prepared. Here, how to be that:
1. Now or Later: Ideally, summer sales are ideal for picking up pieces that will carry you through to fall, so avoid super-summery basics like bathing suits and sandals, unless you’ve been eyeing them all season and just know you will adore them next year.
2. Brush Up on Your Basics: Classic, timeless pieces are great items to buy on sale, but they don’t need to be boring. Updated pieces with wardrobe stretching potential include almost anything leather, denim, or cashmere. Beware of the wow factor. If an item has it, you may be tempted to snap it up, and then never wear it. Walk away from a debatable item and revisit it later. If you still love it, then by all means, buy.
3. Does It Play Well With Others: When you take it home, make sure your new purchase works with other items in your closet. You should be able to create at least 2 new outfits with it. If it doesn’t match anything you own, you won’t wear it, no matter how cute it is. And play it safe. Tags stay on until you wear the item, so that you can return it if you change your mind. (Check return policies, particularly on sale items, to make sure you get it back in time). Now that you’re prepared, here are the best sales of the season, and my top picks at each. (For the scoop on summer sales, follow this board.)
Nordstrom Annual Sale
More than a sale. An event, really. It ends August 4, so time is running out.
Buy: Luxurious staples like cashmere sweaters, premium denim, leather, and other high-quality essentials.
Skip: Too-trendy items via the junior’s department, like high-waisted hot pants and crop tops. But I didn’t need to tell you that.
Picks: See graphic, above.
Lovely pieces that transition well from summer to fall.
Buy: Nearly all of their dresses, are perfect for now and later, but don’t miss their cashmere sweaters and cool coats.
Skip: Their one piece bathing suits and tankinis, as well as flowy trousers, which might be done by next summer.
Picks: Velvet ankle skimmer pant, cashmere button back sweater, and the pointed slingback flat
A great place to stock up on essentials that are special, not boring.
Buy: Tees, slim pants, sweaters and gorgeous jewelry
Skip: Track pants, crop tops and other too-trendy items
Picks: Viv patent flat, suede clutch, boyfriend fatigue jacket
More sale picks to come, but for now, don’t forget that all of my favorite sale finds are right here.