Ready. Set. Shop.
As we all already know, I live and die by sample sales. When you have an unlimited addiction to feed on limited funds, these events are like golden tickets. But you can't just walk into a sample sale willy nilly like some casual shopper - or you might get run down by, say, me. And you won't really benefit from it. There is a code for sample sales. And you must live by the code. This is the only way you will walk out with a feeling better than that of when your true love proposes, or you get the promotion you've been working for for five years. People keep telling me that only I put sample sale victories over these milestones, but I think those people are style-less nitwits who just don't get it.
1. Plan. I already read Racked and The Cut daily, but one of the reasons for this is their amazing coverage of sample sales. You should have two calendars. One for sample sales and one for everything else. First fill your calendar with the upcoming sales you want to go to. Now compare to your regular life calendar. Cross out any prior commitments and write the sample sales over that. I cannot think of one thing more important that you would have to do.
2. Research. I cannot stress this enough. If you walk into a sale blindly, it will end in tears. Don't say I didn't warn you. I study more for sales than I did for my SATs. And you know what? I did just fine on my SATs, thank you very much, because they are easier to wing than a sample sale. Look at everything from that designer for the past few seasons, or narrow it down if you know what will be there. Make a wish list ordered by your priorities. Failure to do this will result in you suffocating under a pile of clothes you have senselessly pulled from the racks that you don't even want and end up falling under in a fit of anxiety. If you go in prepared, you will move through the racks like a well-trained ninja, grabbing everything you see that you actually want and being able to form a well thought out group of things to choose from in the end.
3. Punctuality. I am not early for anything ever in my entire life except for sample sales. This may require missing work, but every boss should understand this is a legitimate excuse for absence and if they don't, lie.
4. Preparation. Does the sale only take cash? Well, does it?! If you don't know, you FAIL. You need to walk in there with the exact type of payment you need.
5. Dress right. The fitting rooms at sample sales are either nightmarish or non-existent. And if you're modest, well, good luck to you. You need to wear something that requires no changing. Something that you can slip things over wherever you're standing, but still be able to see how it will fit in real life. I recommend a unitard. Something like this:
(Image from katyc1990.wordpress.com)
If you're too modest even for that, go for a well-fitted black tank dress or a tank and leggings - make sure the tank is long, though, because even in such special circumstances it is still NEVER okay to wear leggings as pants. But you know that, or you wouldn't be doing fashion-focused things like going to sample sales. Also, remember that every sale will make you check your bag and coat, so avoid these. Even in winter, that's what friends and boyfriends are for. Make them stand outside with your coat. And invest in one of those wearable passport cases that senior citizens wear when they go to Spain, so you can strap your cash and credit card to yourself. Waiting in that line will just slow you down.
6. Put your game face on. Get tough. The people in there are not your friends. Even if you came with your friends. All bets are off. I want your shoulders squared and your elbows up ready to take a person out. If you grab something at the same time as someone else, point behind her and yell "Oh my god, it's Man Repeller!" Once she's distracted, grab your spoils and run. If someone tries to talk to you, ignore them. Let them know you mean business. This is not social time.
7. The final decision. When you have a pile, you might want to narrow it down. This is when your best thinking-on-your-feet skills come in. You need to act fast and wisely. Look at each item for 30 seconds and really think of whether you'll wear it or not. If the answer is no after that 30 seconds, toss it.