How to shop sales (Black Friday or otherwise) consciously

Black body suit, high waisted shorts, black friday sales, shopping sales mindful, conscious fashion, mindful style
Black body suit, high waisted shorts, black friday sales, shopping sales mindful, conscious fashion, mindful style
Black body suit, high waisted shorts, black friday sales, shopping sales mindful, conscious fashion, mindful style
Black body suit, high waisted shorts, black friday sales, shopping sales mindful, conscious fashion, mindful style
Black body suit, high waisted shorts, black friday sales, shopping sales mindful, conscious fashion, mindful style

I’ll be honest – I love a good sale as much as the next person. My wardrobe is filled with items I’ve bought on sale and despite being genuinely confused when the terms “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” flooded my inbox with twenty per cent discounts a few years ago, I wasn’t about to “look a gift horse in the mouth” as the saying goes. However, I think there is an art to navigating sales mindfully so that you purchase items you genuinely love and wear long term.

The Black Friday sales can be controversial because offering significant reductions for a limited time can encourage people to make purchases based on the perceived value that they save as opposed to whether the they actually need something, out of “panic” based on whether said deal/reduction/item will be available again, and sometimes even purchases make “just because” they are on sale (I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen into these traps before). Such items may have been made in a way which had a detrimental impact on people and the environment and such practices can contribute to more clothes ending up in landfill if the industry sells, and people buy, items that are cheap, won’t last or that they don’t really need. 

That said, I feel that perhaps it’s not the Black Friday sale per se that is the issue, rather this sale (and sales more generally) represents deeper, underlying issues about the fashion industry and our shopping practices such as the pursuit of “newness”, the push for stores to clear stock quickly to make way for the next micro-season and how we prioritise short term trends over longevity, disposable fashion over quality garments and profits over people and the environment. Perhaps we need to recalibrate our mindset to invest in fewer quality pieces (often with higher price tags, because that’s the cost involved in producing clothes ethically) that we love and will last.

I think sales can be a great way to help us invest in quality purchases which might otherwise be above our budgets, but I feel that we should do so in a mindful way to ensure that what we buy adds maximum wear and value to our wardrobes. With the impending Black Friday sales, and the Christmas and Boxing Day sales just around the corner, I thought I’d share my approach to shopping sales more intentionally. 

Create a list

I make two lists – a wish list and a practical list. The first has pieces that I have been looking at for a long time but which are bit above my budget while the second list is basics that need updating or replacing in my wardrobe. Sometimes items will be specific (such as a particular garment I’ve tried on or have been looking at online) others might be more general (for example, a pair of black ballet flats). I don’t always write them down (I have a great memory) however, I do think that writing things down helps keep you on track. When sales arise, I try to stick closely to these lists when deciding whether or not to buy items. (op shopping is the exception to the rule because sometimes you just have to take the great finds as they come – even if it means buy a sweater in the middle of Summer or a beautiful navy but somewhat impractical, Camilla and Marc dress) If possible I also like to check out sustainable brands to see if I can purchase any of these items from them. 

Don't fall for pressure or lack mentality

I know there can be a lot of hype around sales – particularly big, annual sales. However, the reality is that sales come and go, as do clothes. I get it, I’ve felt the pressure of knowing there is only “one left” in your size or knowing that you only have a short period of time to make a decision. But the reality is that if you don’t get that dress, there will be another one that comes along. You might even be able to find the style second hand which has happened to me a few times. Stick to your list as closely as possible as this will help you avoid straying into the sale wilderness.

Ask yourself these questions before buying something

Do I really love it? (Cliche as it is, “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no”) Would I wear it more than 30 times (bonus points for more than 100 times)? Is it practical for everyday life – can I actually see myself wearing this somewhere on a regular basis? Can I make at least three outfits out of it, or can I see it matching with at least three other pieces in my wardrobe?

If possible, try items on before buying them or if ordering on line check the return and exchange fine print

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve loved an outfit on the rack or on someone I’ve seen wearing it, but when I try the garments on they do nothing for me. Conversely, sometimes I’ll be happily surprised by a dress I’m not 100 per cent sure will suit me (like this one).  For this reason, I have a rule of thumb that unless I’ve tried a garment on, I don’t buy an item on final sale which I can’t return or exchange because I don’t want to be stuck with something that doesn’t fit or will just take up space in my wardrobe.

I know I've said it before but...quality over quantity

Try to invest in quality items that will withstand trends and the test of time. As mentioned above, I love how sales give me the opportunity to invest in a few higher quality pieces I might not otherwise be able to afford but which I know will be in my wardrobe for years. As much as I love dupes, sometimes it’s worth saving up and buying the real thing that you know you’ll love (even if it’s not on sale) as opposed to settling for something that looks similar which you might be on the fence about. Although it might take a bit more time and money, I usually find the cost per wear tends to make it more affordable (for your wallet and the environment) long term.

I’d love to know your thought’s on Black Friday? Do you love it? Hate it? What’s your approach to shopping sales?

Wearing: Miss shop body suit (old, but similar here), Sheike shorts (old, but similar here), Country Road shoes (no longer available, but similar here).

Photos by Adie.


  1. Reply

    Sarah Deno

    November 24, 2020

    These are great tips! Having a plan is key.

    • Reply


      November 25, 2020

      Thank you so much Sarah! I’m glad you found these tips helpful. I agree, having a plan really helps me make more mindful choices about items I’m purchasing whether they are on sale or not.

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