I spent the day in London with my mom (which is rare as she never takes time off work for anything frivolous, real or imagined). The plan was to attend the Bella Freud sample sale (seriously, it was good as I scored 75% off a cashmere sweater), then check out the Christmas offerings at Fortnum & Mason, St. James Square and that general area.
A word about sample sales if you’ve never been to one (most of this is commons sense, but always helpful to get some suggestions, right?):
- Get there first thing. If they announce 10am, be there at 945am!
- Wear layers (like a thin t-shirt or tank/vest top for shirts, or tights if you may purchase sweats/trousers, etc.). Depending on the designer, it makes it easier to try things on if you aren’t familiar with that designer’s particular sizing, or if you want to be 100% sure of a purchase, as all sales are final.
- Leave your kids at home. Unless it’s an event for children’s clothing, trust me, don’t bring them. Politely (or not) wrangling for something amongst 50+ other women doesn’t make it kid friendly.
- Set a budget. I’ve never been invited to a Gucci sale (I think you’d have to spend WAYYYYYYYY more than I do there to get that invite!), but you should have a reasonable idea of what the designer’s clothes normally cost. That being said, sample sale prices should be 60% off or more – giving you reasonable “spend” expectations.
- Know the style of what you may/not be looking for. Easy, right? But just remember, we all get sucked into the huge savings dilemma. If you know the designer does “fun” clothes and colours, no matter how good a deal it may be, do you really need the lime green and orange dot shirt for £20 that’s regularly £300 if you’ll never wear it when you really wanted a plain white shirt?
For me personally, I got there about 10min later than I hoped due to some tube/train delays. Not a big deal, but there were easily already 50 women in the small conference room literally grabbing ARMLOADS of knits! And in that 10min, I missed out on the candle sets that would’ve made the best Christmas gifts for friends. Boo. I picked up a fun sweatshirt for the price of one at NEXT and a cashmere sweater that I should get lots of use out of!
Plans, of course, went awry, when we had to go to the Apple Store to see about fixing a problem with her phone. Unable to get a set Genius Bar appointment, we (surprisingly) were able to get a “walk-in” appointment within about 3 hours (trust me this is a miracle in itself), but it also meant we couldn’t stray too far from the store as they could text at any time saying the appointment was imminent! So, pounding up and down Regent Street it was! And of course, the minute we finally decided to get lunch, they texted to say it was appointment time – resulting in a sprint back up Regent as it now or never, as there were no more appointments that day! Ugh. Kudos to Apple though as they fixed the problem!
We also escaped London by the skin of our teeth, as we grabbed the tube and train from Kings Cross before the massive tube and train shutdown that plagued the rest of the city about an hour later on Wednesday evening!