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Want to ace the Great Singapore Sale? Here are some tips

Six personalities tell Melissa Heng, Alyssa Woo and Sabine Chen what they plan to buy during the Great Singapore Sale and how they stretch their dollar

The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) is back and now is the time for savvy retail therapy that will not take too much of a toll on the wallet.

Besides keeping your eyes peeled for discount signs at the malls, employ a varied arsenal of tips to land the top deals.

Stock up on everyday beauty products, for instance, or shop in advance for Christmas presents during the nation's biggest sale season from now till Aug 13. Or why not go in for the kill and get that designer statement piece that is marked down by 70 per cent?

Six personalities and fashionistas tell The Straits Times about their retail patterns and share shopping advice to ace this year's GSS.

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WHAT DJ SIMONE HENG WANTS

Sports shoes

Class 95FM deejay Simone Heng's childhood is full of fond memories of family trips from Australia to Singapore that sometimes coincided with the Great Singapore Sale (GSS).

"I remember my mum, my sister and me wanting to kill one another when we shopped together. But it was also one of the rare times three of us could spend the entire day together," says the 33-year-old Australian, who is single.


Class 95 DJ Simone Heng. PHOTO: KEITH CLOUSTON

Now a seasoned shopper, the bubbly radio personality, who moved to Singapore in 2015, says shopping is all about the experience. "Go shopping during non-peak periods so that you have time to look through your purchases, which prevents impulse buying."

One of her favourite malls is Great World City as it has the stores she likes - Lush, Zara and Sephora - without being too crowded.

WHAT SHE IS LOOKING FOR

Heng, who is an avid runner, needs new sports shoes. "I might buy running shoes from Asics if there's a big discount. I run three to four times a week or more, and my current pair is falling apart."

She also buys bedlinen from Tangs when she needs a fresh set. "I love my Sheridan bedding from Tangs - it's of really good quality."

TIPS TO ACE THE GSS

1. Buy timeless pieces

Classic items make for smart purchases during the GSS, says Heng, who recommends quality pieces that will stand the test of time.

"I'm a big fan of Ray-Ban sunglasses and I believe they stay in style season after season. I have the Aviators in almost every colour. I even have vintage ones from Japan which are modelled after those Tom Cruise wore in the 1986 movie Top Gun," she says.

"Even fragrances such as Chanel No. 5, which you can give people, are a good idea."

2. Plan, plan, plan

Heng says planning your shopping trip helps you to overcome the urge to impulse-buy. "When you're in that crazy sale environment, you can end up buying things you don't need or want. To prevent this, make lists before shopping and set a budget."


WHAT MAKE-UP STYLIST JOHN LEE WANTS


Singaporean make-up and hair stylist John Lee. PHOTO: JOHN LEE

Bedsheets and basic T-shirts

Singaporean make-up and hair stylist John Lee, 34, looks out for good bargains on bedsheets and basic clothing during the Great Singapore Sale (GSS).

"Recently, I bought bedsheets from Muji that were on sale. I got a 30 per cent discount and paid about $200. I get them only once a year so I wait for the sale rather than pay full price."

The bachelor, who is working on reality show How Do I Look? Asia as host Jeannie Mai's make-up artist, also buys black and white T-shirts and jeans during the sale. "If it is something I wear all the time, I will buy it on sale. Clothes I wear almost daily - such as white T-shirts - wear out quickly. You need to shop smart to save money."

For beauty bargain-hunters, he says the sale season is a good time to buy their favourite skincare and beauty products.

WHAT HE IS LOOKING FOR

The beauty expert, who is also a co-founder of make-up artist cooperative Fac3Inc, usually shops at Ion Orchard and department stores Tangs and Robinsons during the sale. "I head to Ion because it has everything from mass-market labels to high-end boutiques. If I'm looking for bedding or local designers, I go to Tangs and Robinsons."

He likes the two department stores because they have exclusive home-grown and foreign labels. "It is something different from the usual brands at other malls."

TIPS TO ACE THE GSS

1. Stock up on skincare and make-up, but check expiry dates

While the GSS is a good time to stock up on beauty products that are used daily, such as lipsticks and cleansers, Lee cautions against hoarding. Longer-lasting products, such as foundation, for example, usually last six months to a year and your stock could expire before you start using it. "Always check expiry dates before you buy. Don't just stock up for the sake of it because you end up wasting money."

2. Try a new trend

Lee says the GSS is a good time to try trendy cosmetics you are not quite sure about. He says it is better to wait for a sale to buy beauty products and fashion items that are outside your comfort zone. "You want to experiment, but don't want to waste too much money on them in case you end up not liking the look."


WHAT FASHION STYLIST JEROME AWASTHI WANTS


Jerome Awasthi. ST PHOTO: DAVE LIM

Sneakers and high heels

Jerome Awasthi, fashion stylist and fashion show producer, remembers his first buys during the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) - a pair of jeans and a white polo T-shirt from Italian fashion label Valentino.

"I was 15 or 16 when I bought them from Isetan," recalls the 36-year-old. "The jeans were straight-cut, very Ah Beng-looking. I paid about $150 - they were originally $250.

"The polo T-shirt was originally $170, but I paid $80 if I remember correctly. Wearing them made me feel confident and stylish."

The bachelor was motivated to shop stylishly by a critical classmate. "I bought them because I was insulted by a classmate. Back then, we would decorate our school folders by pasting runway or fashion campaign images on the cover. Mine was covered with pictures from Giordano."

He adds with a guffaw: "My classmate said I had no taste."

WHAT HE IS LOOKING FOR

For this GSS, he has bought a military-inspired shirt from Pull&Bear for $55.90, which was originally $79.90; and a pair of joggers and a pair of khaki pants from Dsquared2 for about $900 after a 50 per cent discount from the Club 21 preview sale.

He adds: "I'm planning to buy sneakers for work as I stand a lot or run around for shoots, as well as basic white shirts and T-shirts. The best time to wear whites is the first time. After that, they will just not look as fresh."

He is also looking to buy high heels in sizes nine and 10 for models or celebrities to wear during shoots and will be checking out shops such as Steve Madden, Aldo, Nine West and Charles & Keith.

TIPS TO ACE THE GSS

1. Buy for future events

Look at the social events on your calendar for the next six months and buy clothes, accessories or what you need in advance, in case you have a wedding or big party to attend or an overseas trip to go on.

Awasthi adds: "You can also shop for Christmas presents during this time rather than wait for the Christmas sale as you might run the risk of buying the same thing as others."

2. Invest in statement pieces to complete an outfit

He says it is a good time to invest in that statement piece that will complete your look, whether they are shoes, a bag or an accessory. "It is also the time to get the brands you like - I'm looking at shoes from Valentino, Balenciaga and Givenchy." 3. Invest in good underwear "There is nothing more gross than nude underwear that is torn," he says. "You can lose your fashion sense, but not your dignity. Life is too short to wear ugly underwear."


WHAT FASHION DESIGNER DANELLE WOO WANTS


Danelle Woo, designer and founder of home-grown womenswear label Aijek. PHOTO: DANELLE WOO

Crop tops and mini dresses

Danelle Woo, 38, designer and founder of home-grown womenswear label Aijek, does not remember her first buy during the Great Singapore Sale (GSS), but fondly recalls the Jean Paul Gaultier leather corset she bought last year from Tyan boutique at Ion Orchard.

The mother of one says: "I wear a lot of T-shirts and skinny jeans so the corset dresses up the look. I can wear it over a white T-shirt and I'm ready for a night out. There was another woman who was waiting for me to let it go, but I decided to buy it."

She paid $200 for the corset after an 80 per cent discount.

WHAT SHE IS LOOKING FOR

"I picked up an MSGM bustier dress at the Pois pop-up at Isetan Scotts a few weeks ago. The cut and fabric are amazing, but the size was too big for me, so I made the skirt smaller. It was originally at $900, but I got it at 70 per cent off.

"During the GSS, you want to do the big savings - you're looking at the big kill and not just saving 10 or 20 per cent at high-street labels."

She plans to get crop tops and mini dresses in every print during the sale. "It's the season to live young again. So perhaps a bi- or tri-coloured lace dress or structured dresses in textured jacquard fabric."

For pretty dresses or tops, she goes to French brands Maje or Sandro. She also shops at Tangs for womenswear and active wear; and at Robinsons for brands such as shoe label Schutz.

TIPS TO ACE THE GSS

1. Wear make-up to suit the clothes you are shopping for

Woo says: "I will do proper make-up when I shop during the GSS. If I'm hoping to find a statement piece, I might wear a fire-red lipstick.

"When I'm shopping for basics or everyday work clothes, then I wear my everyday make-up so that it would match what I buy. My everyday look is thick eyebrows, eyeliner, highlighter and a nude lipstick. I skip the blush.

"If I wear red lipstick, it is the same except that I put on a bit of blush and skip the eyeliner. The red lipstick goes with all kinds of denim and it makes basic clothing pop."

2. Alteration does wonders

She says one should not give up on a sale item even if the fit is a little off. You can add a bust seam so that the dress fits or change the lining if it is too sheer.

If you have a regular seamstress, take a picture of the item and ask his or her opinion on the alteration. Altering linings and zippers is more costly, but could be worth it.

3. Wear nude underwear

Woo wears seamless nude underwear when she is shopping. She says: "When you try on a pair of white pants, you don't know if they will be too sheer. If your underwear shows through, then the pants are too sheer and you have to give them up."


WHAT ACTRESS MASTURA AHMAD WANTS


Mastura Ahmad. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

Footwear

Singaporean actress Mastura Ahmad is an impulse shopper who rarely plans her shopping trips.

"When I've time between appointments with friends, something in a store might catch my eye and I'll end up spending money," says the 50-year-old, who usually shops every two months.

But when the Great Singapore Sale (GSS) rolls around, shoe shopping becomes a family affair for the mother of four. "My children love sports shoes and the mid-year period is usually when they need new shoes anyway."

She gets her children - aged 16 to 22 - to buy footwear at discounted prices. They also do research on the available styles and figure out which stores have the best discounts.

WHAT SHE IS LOOKING FOR

The actress, known for her roles in local television series Tanglin and Singapore film Apprentice (2016), admits that she rarely shops for herself during the GSS.

Instead, her husband, an assistant manager at Nanyang Technological University, is more of a GSS shopper. He loves taking photos so he often buys camera equipment. "He is the one who always reminds me that the GSS is coming soon and tells me to wait for the sale to buy my clothes."

For her children, the family will visit stores such as Royal Sporting House and Takashimaya, and malls such as Ion Orchard and IMM, to hunt for the best footwear deals.

TIPS TO ACE THE GSS

1. Get running shoes

Sports shoes can be expensive so Mastura says the GSS is a good time to get a new pair. "My sons like Nike and adidas while my daughter prefers Vans. We can usually find shoes at up to 70 per cent off."

2. Shop patiently

She says the family usually visits at least three department stores or malls to search for the best discounts. "Sometimes you go to one store and it doesn't have the size we need. But the right size is available at another location, then we will make our way there, even if it's on the other side of Singapore."

She says the journey is worth it. "My kids usually get two pairs each, so getting a discount on each pair means we save more."

3. Plan for vacations

Mastura notes that winter wear is usually cheaper during off-season. "If you've already bought tickets or plan to travel to some place cold, why not buy your holiday clothing while there is a sale?"


WHAT ACTOR ANDIE CHEN WANTS


Mediacorp artist Andie Chen. PHOTO: THE CELEBRITY AGENCY

Anything that catches his fancy

Mediacorp artist Andie Chen, 32, professes to be a spontaneous shopper who favours clothing of good quality. "I don't go looking for the cheapest or best items out there - I prefer to look for something with a good fit, something that I fall in love with on the spot."

He says malls such as Ion Orchard, Wisma Atria and Cathay Cineleisure Orchard are prime shopping spots for their mix of local brands and luxury labels.

The Great Singapore Sale (GSS) has special nostalgia for the father of two, who remembers shopping during the sale period when he was a budding actor. "When I'd just started in show business and didn't have much money but needed to dress well, the GSS was a good way to get clothes without breaking the bank.

"I also remember buying surfer wallets during secondary school - this was when they were all the rage - from brands such as Rip Curl."

WHAT HE IS LOOKING FOR

Being a sporadic shopper, he does not plan his shopping trips in advance. Rather, he prefers buying things that catch his fancy when he has the chance to walk around malls.

TIPS TO ACE THE GSS

1. Stock up on statement pieces

Go for luxury items in quirky designs or funky colours, says Chen, as they make for interesting statement pieces. "The GSS is a great time to look for wild statement pieces. These usually have amazing discounts. I remember buying some crazy neon pieces which you can see in my older photographs," he says.

2. Buy basics from designer stores

For good quality basics, look at luxury labels such as Armani, says Chen. "It's always a good idea to stock up on basics such as jeans or T-shirts in black and white, especially if you wear them often," he says. "You can get basics from anywhere, from shops such as H&M and Zara to luxury brands such as Armani, where items will be of better quality."

3. Keep it comfy and skip the queues

Wear comfortable clothes for hassle-free layering and changing. He says: "When I shop, I'm in jeans, a T-shirt and a plain pair of shoes that are easy to take off. I can layer outerwear easily - this saves me from joining queues at changing rooms."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'Ace the sale'. Print Edition | Subscribe