At the moment, I don't have the financial freedom to justify regular shopping trips and even on the basics I try and look for the best deals. I appreciate that everything in this post is going to sound ridiculously stingey but these are just the ways I try and keep my inner shopaholic more grounded! When I stumble across a tempting find I have a checklist I go over to save me from 'full wardrobe, nothing to wear' syndrome and here I'm going to share it with you!
How often will I wear/use this?
This one is the biggie so I think it's worth starting with it. I suppose this question is pretty straightforward but it's one I often end up most in denial about! Party frocks and killer heels are things that I just can't wear on a day to day basis and yet when I'm out shopping they are the first thing I'll coo over. Similarly with jewellery I'm a veritable magpie and yet I know in my heart of hearts I have a jam packed box of sparkly things at home! Basics like jeans, leggings, boots, the right kind of bag and jackets are day to day items that I'd get far more wear out of. Although they may not tempt me the most, they're sensible wardrobe staples to invest in. Here the keywords are practicality and versatility!
Have I been after one of these for ages?
This is a bit more specific. If you - like me and many others - always have those wishlist items that you hold out for, then here is where you can cut yourself some slack. If you are so fortunate as to find that dress, those shoes, that perfume at a serious discount and you've had it on your Christmas list since February - decide if the oppurtunity is worth taking and make an informed decision. This question is difficult because if you really want to you can justify almost any purchase, but try to be honest with yourself and don't strain your spending ability too often! Here the keywords are oppurtunity and honesty!
Is it reduced for a reason?
Here lies one of the real dangers in bargains and sales and it's time to look a gift-horse in the mouth! Sometimes the thrill of a discount can mask the nagging details like a frayed hem, a small hole, missing button or a scuff. If you honestly think that you can/will fix it up, then perhaps the situation would be redeemed. But make sure you don't let a discount get the better of you. Here the keyword is scrutiny!
If it wasn't reduced, would it be half as tempting?
I'll admit right now that I trip over this one a lot more than I'd expect. If I love a piece of clothing or product and it is within my price range, then I will seriously consider buying it. Sometimes however, I just love finding something that has snuck into my price range. It gets tough to consider how it'd suit you or fit in with your wardrobe when you see a mahoosive discount. Here the keyword is temptation!
If it has a label, is it authentic?
If you are a thrifter like me, when I find an amazing label I can often deduce it is too good to be true. However, the other day I had an incident that nearly broke my heart! An Alexander Mcqueen skull scarf in a charity shop with a small damaged area but other than that as covetable as ever. And £15. Before I stumbled across this I had only seen pictures online. So was it real? It looked real! The edges of the fabric were rolled and the stitching looked as though it had been done by hand. And yet, if it was a fake then I'd be down £15 on a damaged scarf! I didn't have anything to compare it to, the shops were shutting soon and my decision was totally gutting but the sheer number of knock-offs I've seen before made me walk away. Here the keywords are quality and expertise!
Will I find one again or is it unique?
Here is another question for the thrifters and anyone that likes vintage shops or boutiques especially. When you come across an item that is presented to you in a specialist store, often the price tag will reflect it. Vintage shops have prices that are 10 times that of charity shops, because people walk in expecting something a little different. If you go to somewhere like Camden for shopping, you'll be presented with a wide array of specialist content but sometimes even then the same stuff crops up over and over. If you're going to be paying the premium in a shop, you're entitled to want something a little special. Just make sure you shop around before you hand over your cash! Here the keywords are individuality and mark-ups.
How long will this last me?
Unfortunately most of the time when you find a cheap product, you get what you pay for. I found a pair of flats in an online sale that I snapped up for just a few pounds to replace an older scuffed pair. However after just a few outings the faux-leather around the heel has torn and the shoes that I threw out were actually in better condition than the ones I'm stuck with now! Also with beauty products, if a little goes a long way then it makes a big difference when you're working out the true value of a product. Nobody can see into the future but look for signs that what you're getting is well-made and you hopefully won't suffer as much! Here the keywords are once again quality and scrutiny.
Have I tried it on or seen swatches?
Now here is a question close to the hearts of most bloggers and anyone that shops online. How do you know when you want to part with your cash if you don't have the product in your hands? Well firstly I'd always say to try things on! If you can get down to the shop, trying on the clothes and finding out they don't fit will still be less disappointing than buying them and finding out when they turn up! If you can't get down to the store, I'd say check out the size guides and customer reviews. With beauty products the blogosphere has regularly been my saviour with brands like ELF as reviews can show me what websites don't. Here the key phrase is trial and error!
Finally, it's ok if you come back empty handed!
I'm ending on this one because as a perpetual window shopper on a budget, more often than not I'll leave a shop without having bought something. Sometimes I'll be disappointed, other times I'll still be pining for something way out of my price range but most of the time if I've checked off all of these questions I'll be ok with it. I've come to the conclusion that there's more satisfaction in buying a few things that deliver than ending up with a heap of impulse buys and disappointments!