Anatomy of a Sample Sale

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The time when the crisp weather designer clothing, freshly pressed and ready-to-wear are displayed with huge discounts at sample sales around New York City. There’s nothing like the holiday sample sale season in the city (say that three times fast). This is a big week for the fashionistas of New York! Rebecca Minkoff, Tibi, Helmut Lang, Thakoon, Steven Alan, Noir and Manolo Blahnik (though that last one is invite only) are all taking place this week. Because of my work/school/writing/gym/blogging schedule (and also lack of money!) I had to prioritize which ones I wanted to check out. I also had to give myself a budget…which I didn’t really stick to, but I’m sure you could’ve guessed that.

On Monday I hit up the Rebecca Minkoff sale with my friend Christina. We were the second people in line and got an additional 20% off of everything we purchased because Christina is on the “friends and family list” (snazzy).Β  I would advise you to show up early, and be on the brand’s e-mail or newsletter list so you can be aware of any special discounts or events ahead of time. Usually you can sign up for this stuff at the sale, or on the brand’s website. Minkoff was in a huge showroom and had tables 50ft long lined with purses galore. Originally $300-$900, most bags could be bought for $100-$200! Wallets, clutches and canvas satchels for even less!

They also had a ton of awesome boots and heels but they were only marked down to $150-$200, which was a little out of my price range. My favorite part of the sale was the clothes! Stunning maxi skirts (one thing that I unfortunately had to leave behind), neoprene and leather sweatshirts (as seen in my Gossip Girl post), blazers, silk dresses, trendy tops and vests were all marked down 50-75%!

When you go into a sample sale, you have to shop with intent. If you have a browsing attitude about it, things are going to get scooped up before you have a chance to grab them! They make you check your coat and bag, which is sort of helpful. With both hands free, I recommend grabbing anything you can carry that looks remotely interesting to you. Rebecca Minkoff did not have a fitting room, but I was fortunate to have worn tights and a sweater dress, so I easily slipped things around what I was wearing:

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I took this embarrassing selfie just to show you guys how I tried on the clothes while I was there. This is the maxi skirt I am still dreaming about by the way. But it was another $100 I didn’t want to spend.

I ended up leaving the Minkoff sale with three items, even though I had initially only wanted to buy one. But I felt really good about my purchases! I got the neoprene sweatshirt, the gorgeous clutch in my Gossip Girl post (for $60!) and a cool mini skirt with leather detailing. I loved the sale’s design aesthetic; it was the perfect mix of feminine and trendy.

Because I went so overboard at Rebecca Minkoff, I tried to be more conservative at Tibi. This sale had a lot of funky printed basics, chunky sweaters, fun pants with leather detailing, and a few mini skirts that I wish I could’ve bought. I went to the Tibi sale specifically hoping to purchase one of their signature giant midi skirts, but there was not a single one at the sale! I truly limited myself to one item this time, and got some really fun purple and black pants with a leather waistband. I’ll be sure to do a post with them soon!

Top 10 Tips for Surviving a Sample Sale

1. Shop with a purpose! Be aggressive! Don’t be rude, but you do have to grab what you can when you see it. It may be the last one in your size!

2. Show up early, and try to get on a list if you can. This will lead to more stock, fewer crowds and sometimes discounts!

3. Set a budget. It is easy to go overboard. Even if you break the bank a bit, having a number in your head will at least make you feel bad the more you go over it.

4. Don’t buy something just because it is a good deal! I know, you found a fabulous dress; its designer; its so well made; you need it. But if it doesn’t fit you properly, you aren’t going to wear it. The stuff still isn’t that cheap. Don’t buy it if it doesn’t make you look as fabulous as you are.

5. Wear leggings and a tank top. That way, in case there isn’t a fitting room you can still try stuff on with out bearing it all.

6. If you have to pick between two items, pick the one you have fewer of in your wardrobe or the item that you can wear with more stuff. At the Minkoff sale I was torn between the miniskirt and the maxi skirt, but I knew I could only pick one. They both would go with a lot in my closet. I sort of liked the maxi skirt print better. Christina was really my life-saver here, because she showed me how the miniskirt was a bit more versatile. It can be dressed up or down. Also, I have a lot of maxis but nothing quite like this mini in my closet.

7. Going with a friend if you can it really helpful! As seen in my last tip, Christina really helped me weigh the pros and cons of what to buy and what to leave!

8. Experiment. Grab anything that looks interesting in your size. These clothes are some of the nicest you can get at this price. I would try on anything that fits. You may surprise yourself and fall in love with a piece you would’ve never thought you would like. And since you should just grab as you go anyways, grab now and figure it out when you are trying on later.

9. Check the signs for prices. One sign said sweaters were $100, one said they were $150. I pointed that out to the cashier when she tried to charge me $150 for the neoprene sweater (in which case I would not have bought it). She knocked the price down!

10. Have fun! If you are fortunate enough to live in a city that has sample sales, take full advantage of them. You can get some of your best statement pieces this way.

The sales all end this Friday or Saturday guys! For addresses and times click here. Happy shopping!

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