The best things to buy in the Christmas sales

Scoop up the bargains and dodge the mistakes with Frankie Graddon’s shopping guide

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By Frankie Graddon on

The best thing I ever bought in the sales was a Sophie Hulme handbag. I got it for less than half-price with same day delivery and wore it obsessively. To this day it’s one of the best bags I’ve owned. The worst thing I ever bought was a trench coat by Preen. It was £180 down from five times that and completely gorgeous. “A bargain!” I hear you cry. Not when it’s two sizes too big and the sleeves reach your knees. I have had it for over a year and worn it twice – a terrible financial decision whichever way you look at it. Why am I telling you this? Because the Christmas sales are in full swing and while there are fantastic bargains to be found, there are some clangers to dodge along the way. And to make sure you do dodge them, here is my comprehensive shopping guide.

Do buy: your yearly supply of underwear

In the rush for big-ticket items (coats, bags, boots) pants and bras tend not to get a look in, however now is the perfect time to stock up (assuming you haven’t just got a load for Christmas). Discounts on underwear are among the best, and as they don’t follow the same seasonal trends as the rest of your clothes, styles never really go out of date. (Ditto swimwear, but if you can bring yourself to try on a bikini in January you are a braver woman than I.) Plus, there’s nothing lovelier than starting off the new year with some nice new pants (more on that next week). This year Triumph, House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer and Figleaves have great sales on their smalls. I’m heading towards Cosabella via Net-a-porter who have 40 per cent off their pretty soft-cup bras and matching knicks.



Like underwear, jewellery designs are perennial so you’re much less likely to buy something now and go off it in four months. Plus, there’s the added bonus of not having to worry about whether it fits or not. This year the best jewellery sales belong to Monica Vinader (discounts from 30 per cent), Net-a-Porter (up to 50 per cent off – check out this Hillier Bartley earring), Astley Clarke (up to 50 per cent off), Wolf & Badger (up to 50 per cent off ) and Alex Monroe (up to 70 per cent off). I am on the hunt for a pair of gold hoops and these from Dinny Hall fit the bill.



This is one big-ticket item that is definitely worth grabbing in the sales. The aim here is to get a great quality bag that will last you for the rest of the year and beyond. Have a look at Coach, Michael Kors, Mimi Berry and Very Exclusive who all have up to 50 per cent off, meaning you can get a luxury bag at a far more doable price. Also check out my new favourite bag brand, Little Liffner, currently 50 per cent off on Net-a-porter.


Do buy: labels that are usually expensive

When talking to successful sales shoppers, there is one thing they all have in common – they all head straight for the spendy stuff. Rather than saving a fiver on a high street top, one could argue that there is more value to be had in stalking the stuff you can’t usually afford that, thanks to a sizeable discount, suddenly becomes doable. The Pool’s Lynn Enright has this technique down to an art, with past triumphs including “a Kenzo bag, Isabel Marant sandals and YMC jumpers”. She even managed to find her designer wedding dress in the January sales. Her top sale destinations are Matches (up to 50 per cent off with more items being added until the end of Jan) and Farfetch (up to 50 per cent off). The Pool’s ed Sam Baker recommends keeping an eye on Isabel Marant; “outrageously overpriced but worth picking up in the sale”. Last year she scored a pair of leopard print ankle boots, which I continue to be very jealous of. 


Also look out for Whistles (up to 50 percent off), Liberty (up to 60 per cent off) and Studio B who have 30 percent off lables like Rixo and Gestuz


Do buy: the keepers

Staples, classics, capsule items – whatever you want to call them, when it comes to sale shopping, stick to the pieces you are going to get a lot of wear from. This might be a leather jacket or it might be a marabou boob-tube – it really depends on your style. World famous sales shopper Stacey Duguid (not really, but she is very good) calls these the “eggs, flour and water of a woman’s wardrobe”, and for her includes denim shirts, ankle boots and jumpers. “Look for keepers – stuff you’ll be able to wear into spring and save for next autumn”, she advises. Check out Chinti & Parker’s Breton tops which have 50 per cent off, Boden's coats have up to 50 per cent off and Whistles has up to 50 per cent off cashmere sweaters. Hush has 20 per cent off everything until January 2 (full blown sale launches on January 4), Finery has up to 50 per cent off (check out the day dresses), Kitri has up to 50 per cent off, and Jigsaw has up to 50 per cent off hats, gloves and boots. 


If you fancy being really sensible grab one of the zillions of discounted party dresses for any upcoming posh-frock emergencies. Warehouse has up to 30 per cent off dresses and Karen Millen has 50 per cent off eveningwear (including my favourite jumpsuit).


Do buy: last chance saloon purchases

I like to call these the sales dregs – the last pieces in the shop waiting to be snapped up. Don’t be fooled into thinking these are the undesirables; if you can stick it out until the last moment, you will benefit from the biggest discounts. Add the item of choice to your basket then check in regularly to see if the discount has increased. As soon as it drops to 70 per cent off – BAM! One click and it’s all yours. If you are venturing into the sale IRL (seriously though, why?) leaving it to the last minute also has its benefits; the stuff left on the rails is the stuff that’s been overlooked so you’re less likely to bump into someone else wearing it.


Don’t buy: when drunk

I know – how boring. If I had it my way almost everything would be done with a wine in hand but alas, responsibility calls. Due to heightened emotions and transacting money, sales shopping is probably best done sober. As Stacey explains; “wine is the sole reason for thinking you’ll get loads of wear out of a handbag that looks like a muppet.” Secure your sales buy then hit the vino. How lovely. Merry Twixmas!


Click here for the best things to buy in the Christmas sales


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