As I was standing in line for a recent sample sale, I looked at all the women ahead of me in line. You could pick out some of the sample sale rookies vs. the vets. As I drag more and more of my friends to fight through the crowds with me, I thought it might be fun to share some quick tips on how to survive and thrive in the chaos that is a sample sale.
Do: Do your research!
Payment: Many sales have cash/credit restrictions, so make sure you have the correct form of payment.
Bags: Some sales do not allow large bags or make you check your bag at the door. Other sales ask you to bring your own bags. If this kind of information isn’t available where you found out about the sale, Google past sales or check Instagram to see what the rules have been in the past.
Pricing: Many times, you can also find past prices somewhere online too. There’s nothing worse than driving across the city to find out that everything at the sale is still way out of your price range.
Do: Plan your outfit. Depending on what kind of sale you’re going to, different staple outfits will work. Look up the dressing room situation before you go. Some have private dressing rooms, some have shared rooms divided by gender, some just have a privacy screen, and some have none at all. If you’re in a private or shared dressing room, wear something that’s easy to get in and out of, like a sun dress. Dresses are also great if you’re going to a jean sale. For (non-jean) sales without a dressing room, I wear a yoga sports bra, tank and leggings. Leggings are thin enough that I can put dresses and skirts over them and make sure they fit. I ditch my tank and try on tops over my sports bra. It’s not always perfect, but you get the idea of the fit.
Do: Be patient. There might be a crazy-long line to get into the sample sale, or a crazy-long line to get into the dressing room. Sometimes you can get lucky with quick trips, but generally plan on being there a while. Someone snagged the last pair of pumps in your size? Wait around. People initially scoop up everything in sight and sift through it later. You dream shoes may not make the cut and could end up for grabs again.
Speaking of which:
Do: Grab everything you might be interested in! If you see something you like, grab it. Chances are if you leave it and come back, it will be gone. Nothing will haunt you like that item you passed on. Try to make an entire sweep of the room before you start trying stuff on. Yeah, it sucks lugging a bunch of stuff around, but it’s easier to narrow down when you try on everything together. Also, you can try on out of the way of other people trying to shop. If it’s a new-to-you brand, grab a couple sizes, move off to the side, and determine what sizes to grab from then on.
Do: Grab different sizes! Samples sales are often made up of, well, samples. The sizing may be a little off from stock merchandise, so grab a couple sizes to see what fits. Don’t feel bad if you have to size up from what you normally wear. I’ve ended up with 4 different sizes from the same brand.
Do: Familiarize yourself with the brand pricing. Know how low they discount their merchandise on the website. Sometimes you can find styles at off-price stores like TJ Maxx or Marshalls for similar prices. You can return regrettable purchases to those stores; sample sales – not so much.
Don’t: Wear 5 inch stilettos, unless you plan on clubbing someone with them, which is probably frowned upon. But seriously, wear comfortable shoes. If you’re going to a shoe sale, wear something that’s easy to slip on and off.
Honestly, don’t even wear cute shoes to a shoe sale. I’ve seen a lady take another lady’s shoe, that she wore to the sale, and try to walk away with it looking for its mate. There was nearly a brawl. I always wear worn flip flops that no one is going to mistake as merchandise for sale.
Don’t: Bring your dog. People in LA take their pups EVERYWHERE, but sample sales are often crowded and chaotic, and it’s not fair to risk your puppers getting stepped on. Plus, you lose a hand holding a leash.
Don’t: Go in without a budget. Know how much you want to spend going in because it is super easy to be seduced by deep discounts and end up spending a fortune. Honestly, I blow my budget a lot. However, having a number in mind forces me to mentally keep track of how much I’m going to pay and often results in putting stuff back to cut costs.
So there you have it! Go forth and conquer those crazy, wonderful events. Are you a sample sale savvy shopper? What’s your best tip or favorite find? Leave a comment below!