Top tips for sales shopping

* Do not leave hitting the shops until the last minute. They are quieter in the morning and everything will be nicely arranged.

* Avoid shopping for something you need to wear that night.

* Head to stores which are normally out of your price range. You may be able to treat yourself to something special at a fraction of the usual price.

* Buy basics. Colourful tops to mix and match, jackets, classic trousers, shoes and shirts are good bets.

* Buy the correct size, do not cheat. Who wants to live on lettuce leaves?

* Make sure you like the item before you buy it. If you shop in a hurry you may find yourself stuck with something you do not want and cannot return.

* Shop with an open mind. Try not to limit yourself to one particular item.

* Accessories are good bargain buys. Look out for bags and elegant costume jewellery, for example.

* Aim to buy clothes that will last for a few years.

* Look through fashion magazines before you set out for the shops so you will be au fait with current trends.

* Examine the washing instructions on the garment before buying it. How colourfast is it? Is it pre-shrunk, does it need to be dry-cleaned? Make sure you check before you find out the hard way.

* Mauves, blues and midnight shades never look like last season’s leftovers.

* Ethnic styles and tops work in all seasons. Snap them up.

* If buying shoes, buy them to suit the occasion. Pretty, lightweight shoes are ideal evening choices but are unsuitable for Irish daywear.

* Check the finish of garments, such as seams, buttons and zips. They are a good guide to overall quality.

* Visit several shops and compare prices. You may find a big difference in prices for individual items.

* Try the men’s departments for basics, such as T-shirts and shirts. They are often cheaper and you may find more choice.

* Buy children’s clothes with room to grow or ones that can be let down if required.

* Do not be tempted to buy something just because it is cheap. Avoid fun looks or unusual colour combinations.

* Do not use your credit card. You’ll be less likely to overspend if you buy only what you can pay for now.

* Do not be swayed by fashion trends. If you find a style that suits you, stay true to it.

* Avoid linen unless you intend to spend the rest of your days standing up to ward off creases.

* Do not buy anything without trying it on first. Some clothes have hanger appeal, others do not but look great on. You could be bypassing the bargain of the day if you do not take time to find out how a garment looks first.

* Do not be a slave to particular brands. Broaden your horizons and be open minded.

* Never trust your memory. Be sure to take the outfit you are trying to complete with you. This is especially important if you are trying to find a colour match. Also, be sure to look at the garment in natural light. It may appear a different shade under fluorescent light.

* While it may be your dream outfit, if it is in the wrong colour, style or size then it isn’t a bargain so walk away.

* Never shop after having a few drinks, a massage or anything which makes you feel lightheaded. The emotion will go to your brain and cool reason will go out the window. Shopping when you have just got paid may make you feel extra flush too and break down your resolve to be an effective shopper.

* Do not pick up an item unless you want it. Shopping surveys show that if you pick it up you will buy it - five times out of ten - whether you need it or not.

* Not all special offers are bargains. If it is what you want and the price is right, go for it. But if you do not need it in the first place, it is not a bargain, no matter how special the price is.

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