138 How To Tackle Flea Markets, Warehouse Sales, and Bargains of Any Kind

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Photo credit: Pinterest
I haven't had the best history with sales.

When it comes to warehouse sales, my first experience was Love, Bonito's last year. It was something that I really wanted to go to but hadn't made up my mind on, especially since it was on a school night, but when my shopping buddy turned out to be free that evening, we embarked on a madcap journey, which consisted us taking a bus to my house after school, me lending her a dress to wear since she hadn't come prepared, and us taking a cab all the way to the business district where the sale was being held. We arrived about half an hour (or less) before they were due to close on the last day, and consequently shopped around like a pair of hassled chickens till they told the shoppers to wrap up. 

I bought a lavender dress that day that I still haven't worn till this day. It fits alright, but I should've known I wouldn't be too comfortable with anything with spaghetti straps. I distinctly remember my mindset being, "I don't care if I don't particularly like it-- I've come this far-- I can't leave empty-handed!" It's an easy mindset to slip into, given the frazzled nature of the experience, the time limit, and the very enticing 'sales' signs everywhere. (That, and seeing LB's owners like celebrities at the entrance. Consider me starstruck.)

Today I went for my second: Her Velvet Vase's. I was tempted by the tastefully done adverts (which, by the way, promised a "spring garden sale"), the posh venue (Marriott Hotel! in Orchard Road!), and the fact that though I had mysteriously never purchased from them before, I did have my eye on a few items online that I hoped would be at the sale. 

I went with my mum, and as we neared the entrance (and passed by more and more girls with happy faces and full fabric bags with the brand logo printed on the front), I became more and more excited. It's like Confessions of a Shopaholic says: shopping is like visiting a volcano. You'll get more and more signs as you reach the core.

However, the sale turned out to be rather disappointing. I suppose being a few hours late cost us the best designs, and so we left without buying anything, sadly enough. We then went on to Far East Plaza (where four dresses in different shops tempted me profusely, but ended up being tossed into the "nice, but not wow" category), Topshop Knightsbridge (also with tempting "50% SALES" signs, only with the small caveat discovered later, "for members"), and 313 Somerset. My Christmas ang bao money ended up being spent in my last stop: Forever 21, where I hadn't expected to find anything other than pretty-from-far clothes made of crepe chiffon. 

a navy button-up of sturdy cotton, and burnished gold dress shorts in what feels like Thai silk- for $15 apiece!
Which brings me to the subject of my post: how to tackle flea markets, warehouse sales, and bargains of any kind! I decided after my last How To post that all this time spent perusing racks and magazines alike must be put to good use, so here are my best tips:
  1. What you wear to the sales is as important as what you'll be leaving it with. If you're going to a get-down-and-dirty sale like HVV's (or like any warehouse sale, for that matter), do as the Romans and wear as body-hugging and unobtrusive clothes as you can without being skanky. I noticed several girls wearing tank tops and denim shorts (with, perhaps, a layer over that could be peeled off easily, like a flannel shirt) to the warehouse sale, then shimmying gowns over it. This's a useful plan of attack for places with no fitting rooms.
    For places that do have fitting rooms, however, consider things with: no layers, no belts, no buttons, and basically something that can be zipped on and off, like a dress. (Dresses, however, are tricky if you're shopping with someone else and want to come out of the fitting room to show them a top you have on, because then half your dress will be hanging around your hips and that is hardly flattering for anyone. Bring a full set to try on, even if you don't want to buy half of it, if so.)
    And, most importantly, be comfortable. Nothing zaps a shopping trip faster than you clumping along in heels you should've broken in or left in the house in the first place, or you slouching because your clothes don't sit well. 
  2. Consider each piece as if it wasn't on sale. Now, what I normally read is "ask yourself if you'd buy it at the original price", but we all know the sales price plays a huge part of the decision, particularly if the original price is way out of your range. My edited tip: "ask yourself if you'd buy it at the sales price, but without knowing it was on sale". For example, a dress may seem like a huge bargain if the price tag reads it was $50 slashed to $15, but consider that the material is cheap and will likely snag soon and it isn't even worth paying the fifteen dollars.
    Pay attention to cut, material, design, and whether it fits your style and your existing wardrobe, whether or not the item is discounted.
  3. Discard anything that does not 'wow' you immediately. For places with no fitting rooms, this is particularly true unless you are looking for basics. If you hang on to things with only a 'meh' impression on you, chances are you're under the "BUT IT'S A SALE" mentality. If you are shopping for basics, again, take note of cut, material, design, and fit. For places with fitting rooms, this allows you a bit more time to model in front of the mirror and think about it, but be warned: the more you stare, the more you may be inclined to just go "ahh, let's just pay already". Take note of your gut instinct, things that say, "but I don't quite like this neckline", or "this colour looks a little dull on my skin tone". It's like a relationship: it may look good on paper, but if it doesn't fit in real life, discard it. Trust the photos, not the paper!
  4. That being said, take time to walk around. This is to (a) find the best deals, particularly if an item looks like it may be sold elsewhere (very common with blogshop items); (b) think about items you love, but are costly (like this $56 cheongsam I tried on today-- lovely, but way out of the budget!); and (c) consider what you really need in your closet anyway. Shops leverage on the time of the year very heavily during festive periods. You need to really consider if the item you're buying will last beyond whatever period you're buying it in/from. (Partly why I didn't buy the cheongsam- when else am I going to wear it?!)
  5. Don't be afraid to walk away empty-handed. If it wasn't meant to be, it wasn't meant to be. Que sera sera!
Hope this helps. If anyone has any more tips, please let me know! :)

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