Many of the Christmas Sales have begun in earnest – long gone are the days of them starting on Boxing Day. For many, shopping the sales are the thing nightmares are made of, but it doesn’t need to be if you follow my simple guide:

• Set a budget and stick to it

• Survey your wardrobe before you leave so you know what gaps there are. You need to know your current wardrobe inside out and create a list of what you wear often, what you don’t have but would like, and the items you really don’t need another version of.

• Do you really love/want/need it even if it’s reduced? Think… if it’s the same black top you already have three of, then even if it’s reduced it’s not a good buy

• If you wouldn’t pay full price for it, do not buy it just because it’s been reduced. So many women tell me “I bought it because it was reduced, but I don’t really like it.”

• Go for quality over quantity. Concentrate on staples that need replacing as well as classic pieces that won’t date and quality fabrics that will stand the test of time

• Make a list of everything you want to buy and stick to it as rigorously as possible. Never buy on a whim or impulse – those items tend to sit in your wardrobe unworn.

• Always wear good, supportive underwear

• Don’t be a slave to fashion – if it’s on-trend now the chances are it won’t be in a few months and you won’t wear it

• Use this opportunity to stock up on classics – cashmere, a fabulous coat or a great pair of boots are all valuable investment pieces to have in your wardrobe and will be worn season after season, year after year

• Always venture into the fitting room and try on. Many stores have a limited returns policy on sale items and you do not want to be left with an item that doesn’t fit or doesn’t suit you. The five minutes it takes is worth it financially

• If it doesn’t fit then don’t buy it – no matter how much you love it you won’t slim into it. However, If an item is a little big or ill-fitting don’t dismiss it. A skilled seamstress can make all the difference

• If the shoes don’t fit or are uncomfortable then walk away *excuse the pun

• The more impulsively you spend the more likely you are to buy something you don’t need. Try to think rationally when shopping, otherwise you’ll end up seriously overspending.

• Dress appropriately – layer up as it’s cold outside but warm indoors. Wear comfortable shoes (but never sacrifice comfort for style) and a cross-body bag is always a good idea

•Head to the changing rooms for the best pieces. Others will have tried them on and may have left them behind, and busy shop assistants won’t have had time to put them back

• Take a small bottle of water and a snack with you, if the stores are busy then the cafés will be too

• Think about what you can wear it with – always picture the item working with other things you already own. If it’s going to be lonesome in your wardrobe, walk away

• Don’t wait around for prices to drop as things will sell out. If you can definitely get a refund if you change your mind about something, buy now and think later

• If you wait to check your favourite online stores and see the sale has started, you could have already missed out on the best bits. Sign up to mailing lists so that you’re notified instantly – some brands even offer sale previews to those who have signed up so you get first dibs

• Shop the Sales Previews – if like me you hate rummaging as it makes it feel like you’re shopping a jumble sale, then register your email with your favourite online stores or befriend the sales assistant. That way you get the pick of the sale bargains weeks before anyone else! I’ve managed to snag some fave pieces in both Selfridges and Jimmy Choo doing this and am always able to tip my clients off to when the Sales Previews go live

• If you are shopping the sales online then get your wish list in order. The genius online invention of “wish listing” is a particular favourite of mine. Saving an item to your wish list, rather than adding it to the basket, means you’ll be notified when it goes on sale and in some cases, like with, they will tell you if said product is low in stock

• If you have opted to click and collect your sales buy, open your parcel and try the clothes on then and there in the fitting room to save time coming back to the store if they don’t fit

• Leave the fella and kids at home as there’s nothing worse than whinging when you’re hustling a bargain in Zara. Either that or park him in the nearest pub with a glass of bubbles waiting for when you’ve finished 😉