Your guide to shopping the Norwich sales

With the winter sales are in full swing Emma Harrowing gives her top tips on how you can shop smart to pick up a real bargain.

Before you get to work on the post-Christmas sales, stop, put down that skirt that you will probably never wear but you are buying it because it is 50pc off, and listen. Do you hear that? It's a little voice inside your head telling you that a bargain is not a bargain unless the item you buy is something that suits you.

This means before you even set foot in the shops you need to be armed and ready. Not just to brace yourself for the crowds but to prepare yourself so that you do not stray from the path when faced with that gawdy pink dress you suddenly feel compelled to buy just because it costs a fiver.

So how do you shop smart in the sales? A tried and trusted way to ensure you only buy the pieces that you will wear is to shop your wardrobe first. Throw out anything that doesn't fit you, make a note of any gaps - do you have more tops than bottoms? Are you lacking dresses? Do you have a classic white shirt? Note down all the items you need to make your existing clothes into outfits. These are the pieces you need to look for in the sales.

Armed with this knowledge you could still be swayed by the romanticism of the sale rail. Stick to your list at all times unless you find a classic item in your size and then you can relax the rules.

Classic items are a great buy in the sales. Having a white shirt, a pair of black trousers, a good coat, a blazer, a jersey dress, a good pair of leather boots and court shoes are key items that will go with anything you have in your wardrobe and will help pull your look together.

Only look for fashion-led items in the sales if they are classic trends such as tweed, plaid, florals, knitwear, monochrome, tribal or nautical. These trends come around every year so you will get wear out of them.

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If you like to feel fashion-forward and you love embracing new trends look for items that will be in fashion come Spring and Summer. Looks from the past two seasons that are in the sales which will be on the fashion radar come Spring include glitter and sparkle, pinks and reds, yellow, peplum tops and dresses and the 90s inspired look.

PS. If you can find a pair of dungarees snap them up as these are tipped to be huge this Summer.

Top tips for sales shopping

1. Only buy something that you really want or need. It's so tempting to get caught up in the whirl of it all and end up with 17 tops which only cost �5 each – but that's still �85, and if you only ever one of them it actually becomes an expensive top rather than a bargain.

2. Before you go shopping take a look through your wardrobe and assess what it is you are looking for in the sales. What item(s) would complete your existing wardrobe?

3. Make sure whatever you buy goes with at least three other things in your wardrobe that way you are getting a really good investment and won't need to go searching for something to wear with the sale item

4. Don't fall into the 'it's only �xx so therefore I'll have it'. The likelihood is you won't wear it so it will be a poor investment.

5. When looking through your wardrobe before you go to the sales, look at the clothes you NEVER wear and ask yourself what it is they have in common. It may be they are all a certain colour, or have a certain neckline. Be aware of what it is and don't buy it again in the sales. Just because you have saved money on it, it won't flatter you, and you won't enjoy wearing it.