Tis the season. apparently, well for sample sales at the very least. A few have been and gone but there are plenty more about which to get excited. I wish I could find a slightly less cliched picture. (Oh to have Isla Fishers hair – not in box – on my head – for real). Yet I fear the cliche does still hold true. Sample sales are not usually for the faint of heart.
Indeed whilst sample sales used to be the preserve of those in the know, I promise you they are not that scary anymore (admittedly I’m a little too normal to be invited to Chanel’s but you can’t have everything!).
Whilst I didn’t buy my dress from a sample sale, I’ve been to a few and Bean bought many wedding pretties at the manly ones. They can be real scrums or rather dignified affairs. They do tend to be at the scrum end of the sample sale continuum but fear not. If you are the right size and shape for a standard gown you may find the dress. I would say that if you are not of the general sample size I would not bother going. It’s disheartening to find no dresses in appropriate sizes and buying the wrong size is a dangerous game. (I learnt early on that I would not find my “dream” dress for I am not of ”sample size but always enjoy a good gander and get the giggles watching the crazy ladies).
Here are our top tips!
1. Get there early. Although on flash sale days sometimes the best deals can be found right before the end. The proverb about worms usually rings true. You are going to find the best items on display early on in the sale.
2. Take a trusted friend or go it alone. You really don’t need to be confused. If said friend offers sane and honest advice bring him or her along. Otherwise ditch them. This is not the time to be dithering. You need to make fast, clever decisions.
3. Dress for battle. Most bridal sales will not be like the crazy designer sales but I would suggest that you dress either in good underwear or lycra. If it’s the crazy sample sale type, you will want to get the dress on and off quickly. If you have time to look in a mirror, you will want proper underwear to see whether the dress is actually going to look good on you. Do not trick yourself into thinking that with better underwear it will look better. Make sure you know.
4. Sample sizes are not fixed. Most shops will only hold sizes 10-12 or 12-14. Know that sadly these are usually not street sizes. As I said above, if you aren’t going to fit into the dresses do not go. Dresses are made for each size. Overworking a dress to get it from a size 12 to a size 6 and vice versa will just ruin the dress.
5. Read the small print. The dresses should have all their faults listed but make sure you look at the dress thoroughly before you buy. You don’t want any nasty surprises. Some things can be changed, zips can be fixed but make-up stains are hard to remove and if you are after a white, white tulle gown, no amount of dry cleaning can turn a grey dress back into white.
6. Factor in alterations. You may be a little short and need to take the hem up. Wedding dresses tend not to be made in materials easy to worth with and those alterations still cost money. A good seamstress could cost you another £300.
7. Go in with a plan and prepare to be swayed but don’t buy something just because it’s cheap. If it’s true love, buy it and don’t look back. Remember sales will usually be final and you won’t be able to get a refund. So think before you spend. It could be a very shrewd investment. Good Luck!
To finish here is a round up of the latest sales to sink your teeth into. Don’t have too much fun without me!
Bruce Oldfield - 26 June – 31 July
Classic and elegant.
34 Beauchamp Place Knightsbridge London SW3 1JU. 0207 584 1363. www.bruceoldfield.com
David Fielden – Started on 30th June
Hello beautiful and exciting neckline with yards and yards of tulle.
241 Fulham Road, London SW3 6HY. 0207 351 0002. www.davidfielden.co.uk
Browns Bride – 15th July
Dress from Vera Wang, Monique L’Huillier, Elizabeth Fillmore, Delphine Manivet and more.
12 Hinde St, London. W1U 3BE. 0207 514 0056 www.brownsfashion.com
Blackburn Bridal Couture - 1st – 8th August
Dresses from Claire Pettibone, Jenny Packham, Cymbeline,Watters and JLM.
56 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath, London, SE3 0BD. 020 8297 1188. www.blackburnbridal.co.uk
Stewart Parvin - 4th and 5th August
I absolutely adore this dress. It screams decadence to me! It’s so much more beautiful in the flesh.
17 Beauchamp Place, London SW3 1NQ. 0207 589 5529. www.stewartparvin.com
I have also been reliably informed by the ever wonderful Miss Bush Bridal (a seriously great boutique – such great service) that Swoon Wedding Gowns in West Byfleet, Surrey is another great place to find your dress. They have an amazing selection of designer samples. If you know the dress you want. You would be crazy not to have a peek on their website!
Have fun ladies. Do tell me about your triumphs.