This is how you handle a fashion sale... Or not.

It’s not every weekday you find yourself in a room full of crazed, semi-naked women. Silvio Berlusconi notwithstanding. There I was this week at the Sass & Bide warehouse sale surrounded by half-naked women of all ages, sizes and nationalities frantically trying on clothes. It was a bit like a Dove ad on acid.

Dramatically increasing the level of difficulty was my three year old son who I’d brought along for reasons I can no longer remember. Unlike everyone else, my son was not naked and not happy, something he insisted on stating loudly every 11 seconds no matter how patiently I reminded him that we were spending quality time together. And could he please stop spilling juice on the large pile of clothes Mummy hasn’t tried on yet. Yes I know the clothes are on the floor but they’re not for sitting on. Now where are my pants?

I stopped going to warehouse sales more than five years ago when I left magazines and my relationship with fashion cooled. Earlier this year however, I spent some social time with Sarah-Jane Clarke (Sass) and Heidi Middleton (and Bide) at the Melbourne launch of the new Range Rover Evoque (we’re all ambassadors). There, I fell in love with their aesthetic all over again and quickly developed a crippling Sass & Bide addiction.  So when I received the sale email, I jumped, right after roping in Paula who, as a fashion journalist and one of the most stylish women I know, would be able to guide me through the chaos.

Let me set the scene for you. It was pouring with rain as we stood outside the warehouse waiting for the doors to open. I was carrying an umbrella and a three year old while desperately trying to sell in this exciting adventure in retail.  “Mummy is going to try on some lovely clothes and it’s going to be great!” I enthused. Good luck with that.


When the doors opened, we burst into a cavernous space filled with dozens of racks of clothes. As a wave of women charged forward with blinkered purpose, I was held back by my recalcitrant (yet adorable) handicap, who took a slow look around and announced “Mummy, I do not like this park.”

Houston, we had a problem. As my muscle memory reminded me, the key to maximum sale effectiveness is speed, focus and agility. Clearly, I was stuffed. Realising this, I cut loose my umbrella and handbag, optimistically hiding them under a table of shoes. This freed me to hoist my little guy onto one hip and make my way towards Paula who was already darting from rack to rack, foraging for gold. I style stalked her for a while, using my one working arm to grab duplicates of whatever she chose until she disappeared from view. In minutes, my arms were full and I could barely see my son over the mound of clothes I’d draped between us.  A new strategy was urgently required. I located the most central point in the room and sat him on the floor next to a small full-length mirror. Thrusting my phone at him I cursed the fact that it was new and I hadn’t yet loaded it with kiddie apps and episodes of Fireman Sam.  How tough is the life of the modern toddler?

Still, I knew it would take him a few minutes to discover this so I dropped the clothes next to him and stripped down where I stood to start trying them on. Fortunately, Designer Sale Rules say this will go unnoticed; when Sass & Bide is 70% off, nobody looks up.

Still, with a few embarrassed looking security blokes wandering around, I hauled child and booty to the communal change-rooms which is a fancy was of saying ‘giant enclosed space with a few mirrors dotted around the perimeter.’


Here’s how it works. You stagger in with armloads of clothes, dump them on a spare patch of floor and strip off without ceremony, trying to stuff your own clothes into your handbag so a naked stranger doesn’t try them on and attempt to purchase them.

Awkward yet not uncommon.

You then make your way to the nearest mirror to catch a brief glimpse of yourself among a crowd of women vying unsuccessfully to do the same thing. Next, you look at the tag and exclaim loudly: “This jacket used to cost $270 and now it’s only $50 so if I buy it I will have made a $220 profit! That means I have another $220 to spend! And think of how much I’ll save THEN!” Yes I know. I never said brain cells were involved.

Two hours later, I was grateful for two things: that Paula stopped me from making some appalling decisions and that we were there long enough to get past the head-spinning, logic-sapping adrenaline that comes with discounted designer gear. The first time you try on snakeskin print hotpants reduced by 60%, they’re genius. The third time, you remember you’re not Kylie or in fact 22.

As I burst back into daylight balancing a shopping bag and a completely-over-it child, I congratulated myself on a job well done. Until I got home and discovered I’d bought the same t-shirt in two different sizes.

Oh well, that’s twice as much money saved.

How do you handle sales?

And how’s this for sale madness? Yesterday in the US was Black Friday – where retailers open their doors for the biggest shopping day of the year. The sales are huge. And a woman was so desperate for a half-price XBox 360 she did this…..